THEY may not be up their with the Oscars, but filmmakers are just as likely to swell with pride when they are awarded their "Nessies" this weekend.
For the first time since the Loch Ness Film Festival began in 2010 as a showcase for short films, it is offering awards for the finest short movies screened — free — over the weekend.
The bad news for aspiring award winners is that this year there has been more competition than ever just to get a place on the programme.
Changes in how films are submitted saw more than 130 entries heading for festival co-founder Andrew Doig’s consideration over a couple of months or so, which meant he had to find time to watch them around the work and family commitments of normal life.
"I was watching films before going into work," Doig admitted.
"We still get a lot of rubbish sent in and a lot of art house stuff we wouldn’t really be interested in screening, but there’s also been a lot of comedy this year, which is good."
Which is why Comedy is one of the categories for the first Loch Ness Film Festival Awards, which will be decided over the weekend.
"People have been asking for years if we’d thought of doing awards," Doig said.
"We wanted them to be a bit different, so we’ve made a large badge the winners can either wear or put on their mantelpiece,
"There was always going to be a Best Film, but the other categories depend on what genres are in that year. More than half the films this year are comedies, so we decided to go with a Best Comedy Award. We were also getting a lot of films of three minutes and under, so we’ve decided to have a category for Micro Shorts."
The shortlisted films have been selected by Scottish movie news and review site MovieScramble, and include entries from the USA and France as well as Scotland.
As usual, many of the Scottish and British filmmakers are expected to come to Loch Ness to see their films being screened
They include Inverness writer and director Allan Crook, who will be joined by some of the cast and crew from his independence referendum inspired film Hell in The Highlands, while visiting from Edinburgh will be Paul Bruce for a screening of horror comedy Godhammer.
"I don’t know how he did it, but he’s filmed all down Prince’s Street with people dressed as zombies," Doig laughed.
There could be a guest from further afield in the form of US filmmaker Derek Frey, whose nine minute short Motel Providence is nominated in both the Best Film and Best Comedy categories.
Pennsylvania-born Frey already has some very impressive film credentials and is credited as associate producer on several of director Tim Burton’s films including Alice In Wonderland, Sweeney Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, all starring Johnny Depp.
"I thought: there’s no way he’s going to come, but he’s working in London this month and he’s up for coming to Loch Ness," Doig said.
• All Loch Ness Film Festival screenings and events are free entry.
They begin on Friday 24th July at the Loch Ness Backpackers Lodge.
Films to be screened:
8pm to 9pm — Fixed; Good Hands; Sacred Birth; Summer Nights; Traitor; Blink; Jab, Cross, Hook; Corto; Best Before End.
9.30pm to 10.30pm — Us Alone,; The Writer; Last Exit to Ricklesburgh; Motel Providence; Put Down; The Last Post.
Saturday’s screenings take place at the Craigmonie Theatre, Drumnadrochi
7pm to 9.10pm — When the Tide Comes In; White Cobra; Coming to the Tune; Dillstone Remix; Breathe, Just Say Hi; Mr Snuggles; Niro the Dog; Hell in the Highlands; Last Rites; Casting Session; Godhammer; We Sit, We Drink, No Guns; Tableau.
The festival concludes on Sunday at Abriachan Hall, beginning with a guerrilla filmmaking afternoon aimed at children from 1pm, followed by a barbecue and a screening of short films from last year’s guerrilla filmmaking day and Eden Court and Findhorn Foundation filmmaking classes at 3.30pm.
For more information about the films screened at this year's festival, go to: