Submissions for this year’s Young Filmmakers Contest (YFC) jumped more than 500 percent from 2017. Students from grade school through colleges turned in 115 videos by the Jan. 14 deadline.
Leading up to the deadline, visits to One Earth’s website spiked, with 7,300 hits on its Contest Details page alone over 30 days, indicating a much increased interest this year.
“This just shows that there are lots of talented students out there,” said Sue Crothers, who conceived of the contest as part of the annual environmental film festival. “We are thrilled that the contest continues to see increased entries and to be able to provide a platform for creative young people.”
To help promote this year’s contest, the YFC team invited former winner Léa Kichler to produce a short animated film with music composed by Abby Lyons. This was the first time the contest created a promotional video. “Climate change is so big, and we’re so small, so what can we do to make a difference?” asks the narrator of the film, before explaining contest rules.
Additionally, One Earth held live action and animation workshops for students in the fall in Oak Park, River Forest and Chicago, supported with partial funding from the Manaaki Foundation.
Contest backers also increased the cash prize for high school seniors and college students to $1,000, and promoted it to national scholarship websites. Most of the growth in submissions came in that age category, with 75, but high school and younger submissions also more than doubled from last year, said Lisa Files, contest co-leader.
A group of 20 judges is now busy evaluating the entries. The top films will be screened during a reception and awards program at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Columbia College Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
In addition to the cash prize, winners are awarded an equivalent matching grant that will be donated to a non-profit organization or community sustainability project that the winner chooses, subject to sponsor’s approval.
The YFC has been a part of the One Earth Film Festival since 2013. Its purpose is to engage youth in the national conversation about climate change and consider actions to reverse the trend. Students are asked to research one of six sustainability topics: energy, food, transportation, waste, water or open space/ecosystems and then create a 3 to 8 minute film (45 seconds for animation). Cash prizes (or a scholarship) are awarded at the elementary school, middle school, high school (grades 9-11) and senior year to college levels.