Young filmmakers Contest
Details 2020

Watch our one and a half minute video above, giving a quick overview of the Young Filmmakers Contest. Former winner Léa Kichler animated the film, and Abby Lyons composed and performed the music.

Young Filmmakers Contest submissions, from students ages 8 to 25, are due by midnight, January 5, 2020. All winning films will premiere at the One Earth Film Festival in March 2020. Questions? Please contact Lisa Files at

And be sure to mark your calendars to attend the One Earth Film Festival from March 6 to 15, 2020.

1. Eligibility

One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest (hereafter referred to as the “Contest”) is open to students from grade 3 through college and above (ages 8 through 25), as per the appropriate entrant category. We accept USA submissions only.

No purchase is necessary to enter the contest, but entrants are liable for any taxes or costs incurred for entering.

Employees and family members of Green Community Connections (the Non-Profit hereafter referred to as “Sponsor” or “GCC”) are not eligible.

All entrants must complete the Entrant Oath and Permission Form on Film Freeway. The form must be signed online by a parent or legal guardian for an entrant under the age of 18 where the legal guardian accepts responsibility and has read these official rules on behalf of the entrant.

2. Sponsor

The Contest is hosted by Green Community Connections, located at 166 N Humphrey Ave., Unit 1N, Oak Park, Illinois 60302.

3. Agreement to Official Rules

Participation in the Contest constitutes entrants’ full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of the Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding. Winning a prize shall be contingent upon complying with the Rules and fulfilling Contest requirements of film submission. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any entrant who fails to comply with all official rules.

Two young people with cameras and a kid with a clapboard, ready to enter the contest.

3a. Eligible Grade Level Categories

To enter the contest, entrants must be in one of the following grade level categories at the time of submission. There will be one winner in each of the following five (5) grade level categories, except for Senior Year + College, which will have two prizes, one for live action and another for animation.

– Elementary (grades 3, 4, 5)
– Middle School (grades 6, 7, 8)
– High School (grades 9, 10, 11)
– Senior Year + College (grade 12 or active, enrolled college students through age 25)
– Post-Graduate (recent college graduate through age 25)

Note: students who have completed grade 11 and submit an entry during the summer before grade 12 will be considered entrants for grade 12.

Contest officials reserve the right to not name a winner in any given category, pending the volume and quality of entries.

Contest entries may be submitted by an individual, or by a group of any size (ex: a group of friends, an after-school program, or an entire class). In the case of group submission, one prize will be awarded to the entire group as a whole.

Cute dog wearing a beret and holding a clapboard.

3b. Topic Categories

Topics differ based on age. Students in grade 11 and younger should choose one or several of the following topics on which to focus the theme of the film.

– Water
– Waste
– Food
– Transportation
– Energy
– Open Space and Ecosystems

Entrants will then be judged on their ability to address the topic(s) of choice by being engaging, informative, inspiring, and creative through their film. All submissions must show a strong (research-supported) understanding of the topics and related issues. Submissions must share and highlight solutions to the issues discussed in the chosen sustainability topic(s). The film entry’s theme must be solution-based. The film should talk about an environmental/sustainability problem and then discuss what could be a potential solution to this problem. For example, consider a film that discusses over-logging and deforestation and then elaborates on how paper-based product industries can change their methods to harvest sustainably. We look forward to viewing your entries that talk about a current problem and how you propose we solve this problem as a community with the goal of sustainability.

Students in grade 12 and above have more freedom with content/topics. Their submissions should be environmental films that motivate viewers towards behavior change or activism.

3c. Film Length

Entrants may submit a film of no shorter than 3 minutes and no longer than 8 minutes.

Sponsor will accept and consider short animated films. The minimum length for animated submissions is 45 seconds. Animations can present a solution or motivate viewers towards awareness or behavior change for one of the six topics.

3d. Prizes

We have added 3 more top $1,000 prizes this year (a separate animation and a post-grad category), more than doubling the total amount granted to young, talented filmmakers. Winners in each category will receive the following prizes:

1. Screening of their film at the One Earth Film Festival and at other related and subsequent educational and non-profit events hosted by Sponsor.

2. Posting of their film at the One Earth Film Festival website. (Note: Entrants grant Sponsor the exclusive rights to the film and release ownership to Sponsor. Sponsor reserves the right to utilize submitted films for any promotional materials and online media, at its sole discretion.)

3. Cash prize or scholarship: Each winner will receive a cash prize pertaining to the grade level category:

– Elementary (grades 3, 4, 5) live action or animation: $100 cash prize + $100 matching grant
– Middle School (grades 6, 7, 8) live action or animation: $200 cash prize + $200 matching grant
– High School (grades 9, 10, 11) live action or animation: $350 cash prize + $350 matching grant
– Senior Year + College (grade 12 or enrolled college students through age 25) live action:
$1,000 college scholarship + $1,000 matching grant
– Senior Year + College (grade 12 or enrolled college students through age 25) animation:
$1,000 college scholarship + $1,000 matching grant
– Senior Year + College + Post-Grad (grade 12 or enrolled college students or beyond through age 25) live action or animation, Planet Warrior Prize for Creativity, in honor of Sally Stovall, co-founder of Green Community Connections: $1,000 college scholarship or cash prize + $1,000 matching grant to support projects in Sally's high-passion topic areas: youth, climate change, waste, and pollinators/natives/monarchs.
– Post-Graduate (recent college graduate through age 25) live action or animation:
$1,000 college cash prize + $1,000 matching grant

Note: students who have completed grade 11 and submit an entry during the summer before grade 12 will be considered entrants for grade 12.

4. Matching Grant: In addition to the cash prize or scholarship, each winner will receive a matching grant. The grant will be donated to a non-profit organization or community sustainability project that the winner chooses, subject to Sponsor’s approval. Upon being notified of winning, the winner or winning group will submit a short proposal (up to one page long) explaining the organization they are choosing for the grant. The selected organization will have proven its ability to raise sustainability awareness, and will have demonstrated a commitment to creating solutions in the subject matter area of the winning film. It is the sole discretion of Sponsor to accept or reject the winner’s organization of choice.

As a reminder, while a group of people (ex: a class or a group of friends) may submit an entry together, only one prize will be awarded to the group as a whole.

3e. Judging Criteria

Judges will check to adherence to these submission rules, including compliance with all terms (legality, conduct, etc.), film length, format, etc. Films will be judged by GCC volunteers based upon quality and content of the film and its ability to educate, inspire, and raise awareness of the film’s chosen topic.

We also stress that films from students in grade 11 and under will be judged on their ability to address a problem and propose a solution to that problem. Films should state a current environmental/sustainability problem regarding one or more of the topics listed in Section 3b and propose a solution that can help solve/lessen that problem.

Films from students in grade 12 and above will be judged on their ability to educate, inspire, and raise awareness of the film’s chosen topic.

Entrants who do not conform to policies and rules may be disqualified at the discretion of Sponsor. Any disqualifications are the decision of GCC and are final.

4. Contest Submission Period

The Contest Submission Period is on a rolling basis. All submissions for the 2019 film festival must be submitted and received by January 5, 2020. Entries submitted after this time will be considered for the following OEFF contest submission period.

5. How to Enter – Submission Rules/Guidelines

There is a limit of one (1) entry per person or per group, regardless of method of entry. Any additional entries will be void. All film submissions must be made electronically. If you have a special circumstance and need to submit a hard copy DVD, contact Lisa Files at

All entries become the property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned and entrants agree that winning entries can be used for future events held by Sponsor and hosted on Sponsor’s website.

5a. Steps to submit an electronic file:

  1. Enter your film on Film Freeway. Simply click the button above, upload your film and fill out the online form.

  2. Be sure to complete the customized oath and permission form within Film Freeway.

  3. For group entries, send an email to explaining that you are submitting as a group. She will send an electronic oath and permission form which each additional entrant must complete.

5b. Intellectual Property

By entering this contest, all entrants agree that their submission is their own original work, does not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of others, and is in compliance with all copyright laws.

When using sources and works that are not your own, entrants agree that those works are part of the public domain, that they have obtained permission to use the work, or that the use of the work does not constitute a substantial portion of the film so as to comply with fair use laws of USC Title 17 Section 107 found at Where an entrant has obtained permission to use a substantial portion of another’s intellectual property, entrant agrees to submit proof of permission with the film entry. We urge entrants in their creativity to use their own artistic works or those in the public domain. As to research, please give credit to the owners and authors of scientific, academic, political, etc. works, such as through the credits of the film or when the source is used in the film.

For help finding images that are in the public domain and do not constitute any type of infringement, try starting at the Library of Congress: For free or royalty-free sound recordings and music, an artist typically places their work into the public domain. Try doing a search for royalty-free music, and you can find many songs available for a free and legal download to accompany your video. While GCC does not endorse or promote any specific website, you may find some of these free resources helpful in your film creation:

Entrants agree to not hold Green Community Connections or One Earth Film Festival liable for any intellectual property disputes and to comply with these rules and all copyright laws.

6. Winner Selection/Notification

During the week of February 10th, 2019, the Sponsor will announce the potential winners after judgment of all eligible entries.

After winners are chosen, Sponsor will attempt to notify the winners via telephone or e-mail during the week of February 10th, 2020. If the winner cannot be contacted within five (5) days after the date of the first attempt to contact, the Sponsor may choose to award the next runner-up in place of the originally selected winner.

Potential winners will be notified by phone and followed up by e-mail. If the potential winner cannot be contacted or if the prize is undeliverable, potential winner forfeits the prize.

It is the duty of the winners to supply a mailing address to Sponsor to which the prize can be delivered at the time of entry. If this address should change it is the duty of the entrant to inform Sponsor of the updated address. For winning entrants who are minors, Sponsor reserves the right to award the prize in the name of the parent/legal guardian. Potential winners must continue to comply with all terms and conditions of the Rules, and winning is contingent upon fulfilling all of the requirements. If a potential winner is disqualified for any reason, Sponsor may award the applicable prize to the next runner-up in the category.

7. General Conditions

In the event that the operation or administration of the Contest is impaired for any reason such as, but not limited to, fraud, legality, technicality, or in the event that the Contest is unable to run as planned for any reason, Sponsor may suspend the Contest temporarily or indefinitely. Sponsor may address the issue and resume the Contest or terminate the Contest. Suspension or termination of the Contest is under the sole discretion of Sponsor, and entrants agree not to hold Sponsor liable in these circumstances.

Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any entrant that it finds to not be in compliance or in violation with the Contest Rules or any entrant who acts in an unprofessional or disruptive manner. Contest entries reflect upon Sponsor, and all entrants have freely and voluntarily entered Contest, so it is the sole discretion of Sponsor to disqualify any entrants who do not comply or act accordingly.

In submitting a film and signing the application form within Film Freeway, all entrants agree to these terms and conditions of the contest and that Sponsor is not liable for any unauthorized or inappropriate sharing of films. Note that violence, profanity, or direct attacks on individuals or organizations will not be accepted. All films must adhere to copyright laws. Any film utilizing copyrighted material that is not the creation or property of the entrant will not be considered unless clear evidence of the legal right to use that copyrighted material is provided with the submission by the applicable deadline (ex: permission by the owner of the intellectual property).

8. Release and Limitations of Liability

By voluntarily participating in the Contest, entrants agree to release and hold harmless the Sponsor from and against any claim or cause of action arising out of the entrant’s participation in the Contest including but not limited to intellectual property disputes (where entrant agrees that their submission is their own intellectual property, is of fair use, from the public domain, or that entrant has obtained permission for use from the owner of the intellectual property), cancellation of the Contest, or injury, death, or losses of any kind from entrant freely participating in Contest. Entrant waives any right to claim any damages whatsoever, including but not limited to consequential, punitive, direct, or indirect damages.

9. Disputes

Except when prohibited by law, entrants agree that any and all disputes will be handled individually. In the case of any dispute, entrants agree to attempt resolution with Sponsor. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation, and enforceability of the Rules, entrants’ rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of the Sponsor in connection to the Contest, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Illinois, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules, which would cause the laws of any jurisdiction other than Illinois. Any legal fees incurred by Sponsor in the event of a dispute from an entrant is the responsibility of the entrant.

Sponsor reserves the right to update these rules.
Last updated: 9/19/2019


The One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest is partially funded by a grant from the Manaaki Foundation.