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10 Film Production Competitions for High Schoolers

What’s Covered:

 

Are you an aspiring filmmaker with a unique perspective of the world? Does the idea of sharing that viewpoint excite you? If so, you might be able to improve your college admissions prospects—and maybe even earn some extra tuition money—while doing something you love. 

 

Why Should You Enter a Film Production Competition?

 

Film competitions are a demonstrable way to share your passion and skills. It’s one thing to say that you love film and are in a film club, but another to create an actual project that shows your perspective and talents. Athletes and musicians have an easier time quantifying their ability; they can list that they were a varsity athlete, or that they made state orchestra. It’s a little trickier for filmmakers, as there aren’t clearly-denoted levels. It could be especially difficult for you to demonstrate your film interests if you live in a more remote area, where there aren’t many clubs. 

 

A film competition is one way to show how your skills stack up against other students. It’s true that these competitions can be extremely selective. But even if you don’t win, you may still have produced something of quality, which could still serve you well on college applications—perhaps in an arts supplement. If you’re considering submitting an arts supplement, be sure to get the feedback of an honest professional or film mentor. Arts supplements will only help your application if they are exceptional, and will hurt you if they’re only so-so.

 

If you’re ready to gear up for a film production competition, here are 6 you might consider:

 

10 Film Production Competitions for High Schoolers

 

1. American Sleep Medicine Foundation High School Video Contest

 

Each year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine holds a contest where students are invited to submit videos about the importance of sleep. The winner of the “Sleep Works For You” Video Contest receives $1000 to be split evenly between the student and the school. The second place winner earns $500, and the People’s Choice submission receives $250.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

 

Competition Type: National

 

 2. Brain Awareness Video Contest

 

Are you adept at distilling complex scientific subjects into bite-sized pieces of information that anyone can understand? If so, consider entering the Brain Awareness Video Contest, in which students are tasked with explaining a neuroscience concept in layman’s terms. Working with someone from the prestigious Society for Neuroscience, each contestant will create an educational video regarding a topic of their choice.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

 

Competition Type: National

 

3. C-SPAN’s StudentCam

 

Politically active middle or high school students might want to consider entering the C-SPAN StudentCam competition. A video documentary contest, this competition invites students to create videos about local and national news topics. Submissions should be 5-6 minutes in length and address the theme “How does the federal government impact your life?” Prizes total $100,000.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

 

Competition Type: National

 

4. Meridian Stories

 

This company hosts 20 digital storytelling contests each year, with subjects ranging from language arts to history to math. Teams work to complete their challenge over a 3-4 week period, and compete against other schools in the Meridian network. Talk to your guidance counselor to find out if your school is a Meridian program subscriber.

 

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

 

Competition Type: Local, National

 

5. Speak Truth to Power Video Contest

 

If you admire the work of acclaimed politician Robert F. Kennedy, you might be interested in this video contest, which encourages students to celebrate other human rights defenders. Each participant will create a video between 3-5 minutes in length that connects RFK to another human rights advocate. The grand-prize winner will have the honor of seeing their video played at the Tribeca Film Festival.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

 

Competition Type: Local, National

 

6. World of 7 Billion Student Video Contest

 

To compete in the World of 7 Billion Student Video Contest, participants must discuss global challenges and present possible solutions. Topics include agriculture & food, ocean health, and  urbanization. Each video must be one minute or less in length, and monetary prizes are awarded to the first, second, and third place winners. 

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

 

Competition Type: National

 

7. The All-American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) 

 

This festival is a top international film festival for high school students, the largest in the world of its kind. This New-York-based opportunity allows students to connect with professionals, technology, universities, and scholarship opportunities. AAHSFF is linked to several other internal film competitions, like the AAHSFF Experience Contest, the AAHSFF Film Invitational, and more!

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

 

Competition Type: National

 

8. The Elevator Pitch Contest

 

A collaboration between Microsoft Flip and AAHSFF calls students to use free film software Microsoft Flip to create an “elevator pitch” for the entrant’s film production idea. Each participant will submit a video of 30 seconds to 3 minutes for a chance to win a price package, $1,500 to aid in executing the concept, and selection for the annual AAHSFF. 

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and students who graduated in 2022 and younger 

 

Competition Type: National

 

9. ConnectHer Film Festival

If you are a young feminist with a penchant for filmmaking, you might be interested in the ConnectHer Film festival, which invites applicants to submit a film addressing one of several suggested women’s issues of 3 to 6 minutes in length. Applicants have the opportunity to potentially receive thousands of dollars worth of scholarship money and to attend the ConnectHER Red Carpet Awards Event.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, as well as any applicant between the ages of 13 and 25. 

 

Competition Type: International

 

10. Indy Shorts High School Film Competition

 

The Indy Shorts International Film Festival presented by Heartland Film and housed in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the largest Midwestern shorts festival. A subsection of this festival that may interest you is the Indy Shorts High School Film competition. Its applicants vie for the Best Student Film Awards under the Narrative, Documentary, Animated, and Indiana Spotlight categories, each with a $500 cash prize. The winners of these categories are then considered for the $2,000 Summer White Lynch Memorial Award, which is awarded to pieces that push the creativity of filmmaking to the “next level.”

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

 

Competition Type: International

 

How Do Film Production Competitions Affect My Admissions Chances?

 

Most of the competitions listed above are national, which makes them harder to win than a local one. In general, extracurricular activities like competitions can be separated into 4 tiers, with 1 representing the highest and 4 the lowest level of impact and prestige. 

 

Tier 1 activities are particularly rare and typically showcase high achievement on at least a national level. Tier 2 activities are similarly impressive, just a bit more common, like being a major club’s president or placing in a state competition. Tier 3 activities are typically lower-level leadership positions or regional recognition. Finally, Tier 4 activities are typically unselective opportunities, like general club membership or volunteering. 

 

Depending on the prestige of the film competition, regional ones would likely fall in tiers 3-4 and national ones would likely fall in tiers 1-2. If you’d like some clarity surrounding how your competition, work, volunteer, and club experience (in film or otherwise) affect your chances of getting into your dream school, check out our Chancing Engine for free! 

Michelle Foley
Essay Breakdown Writer

Short Bio
Michelle Foley is currently taking a gap year before starting at Yale College in Fall '21, where she is considering majoring in Art, English, or Cognitive Studies while earning her Spanish certificate. In her free time, she likes to paint, run, and read!