1. Where can I turn for help if I am in a crisis or concerned about a friend?

If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, are thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Immediately: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free 24-hour hotline. You can also visit their website at http://suicidepreventionlifeline.com

2. Is my school or organization eligible?

Any high or organization located in the U.S. is eligible, including but not limited to: public, private, charter, alternative, and home schools, community-based organization (e.g. a local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness), or other agency or program. You don’t need to have a prior relationship with this organization and please feel free to contact us for assistance with helping you find one to partner with.

3. How many entries may a participant submit?

There is no limit on participation, and they are encouraged to participate with as many teams as they would like. The same film can only be entered into the contest once.

4. How many entries may a school or organization submit?

There is no limit on school or community-based organization submissions to the contest.

5. My school or organization doesn’t even have a film or media class. Can I still enter?

Yes. Many students have embraced filmmaking even when their school or organization does not offer a formal program. The only requirement for a student to enter is that the film must be submitted under a school or community-based organization’s authority. Each participant must find an adult advisor (such as but not limited to: the principal, a teacher or a counselor) to review the entry and deem it appropriate.

6. What happens if my entry is longer than the specified time limit?

If a film is submitted and exceeds the 60 second time limit (for Suicide Prevention category) only the first 60 seconds of the film will be judged. Although the film won’t lose points, any films which run longer than 60 seconds will not be judged upon their full content and will be at a disadvantage.  (Note: The title slide required at the beginning of each film does not count toward the 60-second limit).

For Animated Short films, these must be 30 seconds in length. The end slate is included in the 30 second limit but the title slide is not. Although the film won’t lose points, any films in these categories which run longer than 30 seconds will not be judged upon their full content and will be at a disadvantage.

7. How many participants can work on a film?

Successful films usually include a large number of dedicated, talented people to produce a video. Up to 10 students may be listed on the entry form, however there is no limit on the number of students who can be on a film team. There is no limit on the number of submissions one person can be part of and no limitation on the number of submissions from a single school or organization.

8. How do I enter the contest?

To enter, you must be a High School Student and be associated with a high school or organization located in the U.S. and be in grades 9-12. Any high school or organization in the U.S. is eligible, including but not limited to: public, private, charter, alternative, and home schools, community-based organization (e.g. a local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness), or other agency or program. By entering the contest, you will compete against other film teams throughout the U.S.

Next, you will submit the Intent to Direct form.

The last step is to submit your Entry Form by the deadline — midnight PST Monday, April 20, 2020–An entry form for every film submission must be received by the deadline.  You will be asked to upload your film as part of the entry form. Vimeo is our video services partner and all technical specifications need to be in line with their requirements.  The entry can be saved for up to 30 days at a time.

Check out the “Get Started” Prezi  for a step by step overview of the contest and resources for creating your film.

9. What if I didn’t submit the Intent to Direct form?

No problem. Submitting the Intent to Direct Form does not obligate you or disqualify you from submitting an entry. It just helps us with our planning process. You may still submit a film and Entry Form without submitting an Intent to Direct Form.

10. What is the role of the adult advisor?

We are asking that all participants are associated with a high school, organization, program, club or other entity and select an adult advisor for their team. The adult advisor is someone who is not on the film submission team. We are doing this so we can connect your school or organization with free prevention programs and resources.

The adult advisor does not need to have knowledge of or expertise in filmmaking or the subject matter (suicide prevention).

11. Do I really need to get all these forms signed?

Yes. Filmmaking requires discipline and dedication to the craft. Participants are honor-bound to acquire all necessary permissions and signatures and accept the liabilities for copyright violations. Get the forms signed now and give them to your adult advisor to keep them on file so that you don’t have to worry about them later on when the AAS Directing Change team requests them from you if your film is chosen as a winner.

12. As a participant, how much help can I get from parents, teachers, and other adults?

Teachers, parents, and support people are encouraged to be resources and may participate as actors, but the project must be youth or young adult’s work, this includes scripts, camera work, and pre- and post-production. Outside help must be limited to showing participants how to do a task while never actually performing the task for them and offering suggestions while allowing the participants to make the final decision.

13. When and how do I know if I win?

We will contact the adult advisor listed on the entry form. We anticipate announcing winners at the beginning of May 2020 and will also post winning films on our website.

14. What are the prizes for each category?

Suicide Prevention –

  • 1st place: $1,000
  • 2nd place: $750
  • 3rd place: $500
  • 4th place: $250
  • 5th place: $150

Winning films will be featured on the Directing Change website.

Animated Short –

  • 1st place: $1,000
  • 2nd place: $750
  • 3rd place: $500
  • 4th place: $250
  • 5th place: $150

Winning films will be featured on the Directing Change website.

15. I don’t know that much about suicide prevention.  Where can I learn more?

Here are a few resources to help you get familiar with suicide prevention:

For more resources and assistance, visit the “For Youth” page.

16. What if I don’t have access to filmmaking equipment?

As a first step, we encourage you to explore resources that might be available through your school or local library. Quality films can be developed utilizing basic digital cameras and video editing software available on most computers. However, if you are not able to access the technology you need, please contact us.

17. I don’t know anything about filmmaking, can I still enter?

Yes! This contest is about developing a film related to suicide prevention and reducing stigma about mental illness and we feel that everyone with a good dose of enthusiasm and creativity can come up with something amazing. Review these tips to get started.

18. How much violence can my film have? Can I use profanity?

This question addresses the topic of “appropriate content”. This is a school-related contest and, as such, content, violence, profanity, sex and drug activity must be appropriate for school use and adhere to your school’s policies, rules, and guidelines.

A few tips: Do not glorify illegal, dangerous, or potentially harmful behavior. Instead, make your video about the decisions made, the relationships gained or lost, the life opportunities won or lost. In short … make the video about the people not about the act. The formula for most movies focuses on why the characters are going to do what they do, the internal struggle of the decision and a resolution. Focusing on the causes and effects allows you to work with serious topics in a realistic, mature way while adhering to school standards.

In particular, the suicide prevention category has special content that must be included and specific content that must be avoided. Check out the submission category page for more information.

19. Can I use popular music in my video?

Original music or music that is in the public domain (royalty-free) may be used in your film if the source is cited in the credits. You will need written permission from the copyright holder to use all copyrighted materials such as popular songs, so you will not be able to just download or purchase your favorite song on iTunes and include it in your video. For more information visit the Forms and Copyright page and for a list of websites that offer “free” music or tips to create your own visit the For Youth page.

20. I have limited internet access. Is there another way to download release forms and submit my entry?

Yes, we can mail you copies of all release forms and you can sign, scan and email to us or mail us a hard copy of your entry postmarked by the submission deadline. You can download and print the release form here. Questions? Please contact us.

21. Will my film be shown on TV?

The winning films will be featured on the AAS Directing Change website. In addition, the winning films may be integrated into nationwide suicide prevention campaigns. In addition, the films will be available for use by organizations throughout the U.S. and may end up being shown on TV or played before movies at your local movie theatre- you never know!

22. Who do I contact if I am interested in becoming a contest judge?

To learn more about becoming a judge, visit the Judge page for more information.

23. Is it possible to make a submission made by students from multiple schools?

Students can submit as a team from different schools, but since the school is eligible to win a cash prize and a suicide prevention program, the team needs to identify one adult advisor from one of the schools. That is the school that will go on record and receive the prize should the entry win. The team could always submit in both of the categories and submit one through one school and the other through another another school.

24. Who is the AAS Directing Change Program and Contest funded by?

The contest is funded by The American Association of Suicidology and the Kevin and Margaret Hines Foundation in partnership with the Directing Change Program and Film Contest Inc.

Learn more about our sponsors and supporters here.

25. What if my school or organization does not allow access to Vimeo?

As a first step, upload your film outside of your school. If you need to upload at school, we also suggest using either a mobile hotspot or an alternate Wi-Fi network (if available). If these are not an option, please contact us to discuss alternative submission options.

26. There are required logos and resources – where do I find these?

Required logos, resources, and other tips for creating and submitting your film can be found in the Submission Toolbox for each category.

27. What constitutes as “animation” for the Animated Short category?

The Oxford English definition of animation is: “The technique of photographing successive drawings or positions of puppets or models to create an illusion of movement when the film is shown as a sequence.” Animated shorts for the AAS Directing Change contest need to create this “illusion of movement”. For example, stop-motion films would count as an animated piece because of the use of many pictures taken then pieced together to create this illusion of movement. Drawing on a whiteboard, in contrast, would be an example of live-action, not animation. This is because it is not about the sequential depiction of movement, only illustration; in other words, filming something as it is created is recording the actual movement, not the illusion of it moving on its own.

28. Can I show brands or logos in my film?

Technically yes, but we do not recommend it. While it may not be possible to keep all brands out of view, there are easy ways to avoid them from being a focal point in your film. For example, dress your actors in clothing without recognizable brands, cover up laptop brands with a sticker or sticky note, or frame your shots so that recognizable stores are not highlighted. While using a brand will not disqualify your film, it may limit the use of your film in television or movie theaters, due to brand copyright laws. We recommend avoiding the hassle and making smart, brand-free choices during the creation of your film so it will not affect its accessibility at a later time!

29. What if I have other questions not in this FAQ list?

Contact us via email or phone.  We promise to get back to you promptly