Rules and FAQ

Contest Rules

To enter the contest you must agree to these official rules. Submission of an entry constitutes an agreement to these rules. And don’t forget to read the FAQ and Entry Process sections.


Eligibility – This is a student film contest; only student and youth and young adult produced films are eligible. To participate, you must be a high school student (grades 9-12) or between the ages of 14 and 25 and be associated with an organization located in the U.S. 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.

Films must be reviewed and approved by an adult advisor at the participant’s school/organization for content that is suitable for schools and a general public viewing audience. Students can, but do not have to, produce the movie as part of a school or after school activity. Students can submit as a team from different schools, but since the school is eligible to qualify for a cash prize and to receive prevention programs, the team needs to identify one adult advisor from the lead school. This is the school that will go on record and receive prizes and recognitions should the film win.

Up to 10 students may be listed on the entry form, however there is no limit on the number of people 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.

A film can only be entered into one category. A film can only be submitted to the contest once; once a film has been submitted in a given year, it cannot be submitted in its same form in subsequent years or it will be disqualified.

Special Note: Films submitted to the AAS Directing Change contest can also be submitted to the California Directing Change contest. If you are a student living in California and would like more information about how to submit a film to the California Directing Change Contest please visit the website here.

Notice of Intent to DirectSubmit the Intent to Direct Form to let us know that you are planning to submit a film and in which category. Submitting the form does not obligate you to submit a film entry, just as not submitting the form does not disqualify entries, but it helps us with the planning process. In the form we will ask you to include:

  • Name of lead participant
  • Name of adult advisor
  • Name of school/organization
  • Name of city and state in which your school is located

Only one Intent to Direct Form per team please!

Submission Categories – There are two submission categories.
Suicide Prevention (60-second PSA): This category asks for a 60-second film that educates young people about the warning signs for suicide and how to offer support to a friend.
Animated Short (30-second PSA): This category asks for a 30-second animated film about suicide prevention.


Submission 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.
Troubleshooting tips:
• Try a different browser (e.g. if you are using Google Chrome, try Internet Explorer)
• Try uploading the film from a different computer (e.g. instead of your school’s computer, try your home computer).
• Try uploading the film using a different internet source: we receive many phone calls from students and teachers trying to upload the films while at school, but if your school’s internet blocks Vimeo.com, you will not be able to upload. Either try uploading the film at home/the library/another location, or use a personal hotspot or mobile Wi-Fi to upload.
Contact us– we have never disqualified a film as a result of technical problems!


Music and Copyrights – Entries must meet all copyright standards by obtaining releases for all copyrighted music and materials prior to submission. Entries that include copyrighted materials (such as images, supers or audiovisual materials) or music (such as music purchased from iTunes, on CD or other downloadable services) without the proper permission and signed release forms will be disqualified. Please review the forms and copyrights page for more information and to download the appropriate forms. It is best to use original music! (When obtaining permission, you are not just seeking to use permission for submission into the contest, but for all mediums that the film will be used in including online and broadcast).

Please try to avoid the use of brands when creating your film. This can include: logos on shirts, brands on the backs of laptops, store signs in the background of outdoor shots, etc. 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 tim

Release Forms – Every person involved in the creation of the film (this includes all cast and crew) must agree to the terms and conditions listed in the entry form and must sign a release form. Anyone under the age of 18 also needs to have the form signed by their parent or a legal guardian.

The release form is one page, and includes the release of intellectual rights, and image and voice rights. Please review the forms and copyrights page for more information and other requirements.

Important note: All applicable release forms need to be kept on file by the adult advisor. The AAS Directing Change team will request release forms from the winning film teams and any other films that we anticipate may be used to support local awareness efforts, therefore it is important to keep all forms on file. Filmmaking requires discipline and dedication to the craft. Student filmmakers and participants are honor-bound to acquire all necessary permissions and signatures, including parent/guardian signatures if they are under the age of 18, and accept the liabilities for copyright violations. If AAS Directing Change staff ask for release forms and they cannot be provided, the film may be disqualified.

Submission Format – Entries must be either 30-seconds or 60-seconds in length, depending on the submission category. Vimeo is our video services partner and all technical specifications need to be in line with their requirements. You will be asked to upload your film as part of the entry form. By uploading your film to Vimeo you will automatically agree to their terms and conditions. Vimeo recommends that when preparing your video for upload, it’s best to maintain the video’s native frame rate when compressing your video. If your footage exceeds 60 FPS, they will automatically reduce the frame rate. Vimeo recommends a constant frame rate throughout your entire video. Always choose “constant” frame rate instead of “variable” frame rate. A codec is the format in which your video is encoded. Vimeo accept most major codecs, but for best results they recommend H.264 or Apple ProRes 422.
• For more information on exporting your video to meet upload requirements, please view a tutorial on your particular editing software – http://vimeo.com/help/compression
• Troubleshooting Upload Problems: https://help.vimeo.com/hc/en-us/articles/224818007-Troubleshoot-uploading-problems
• If you are on a school’s Wi-Fi and are having trouble accessing Vimeo, it is likely that your school has blocked access to the site. Please use another source of internet (mobile hotspot, internet from the library or home) to try to upload the films.

Submission Language – Films in languages other than English are welcome and will be accepted as long as they include English captioning. They can be submitted in either the Suicide Prevention or Animated Short category.

Judging Process & Prizes – All films will be pre-screened by the AAS Directing Change Team. A team of judges will select the 1st to 5th place winners in each category (suicide prevention and animated short).

Prizes in 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.

Submission Requirements – All films need to meet certain submission requirements. These vary by category. Please review the requirements for each category. Requirements include, but are not limited to:
• Required logos and resources (available to download on our website as one end slate that can be added at the end of the film)
• Every film has to begin with a beginning title slide (not counted in the 60-second or 30-second limit) that needs to include: The Film Title, Filmmakers Name(s), School Name, City and State in which School/Organization is located, Adult Advisor Name, Submission Category. A title slide template is available for download but youth are welcome to create their own.

Safety – Student producers: please avoid potentially dangerous production situations that could put crew, actors or the public at risk. Safety during the project is of highest priority. Directing Change staff and sponsors take no responsibility and assume no liability for any acts or damages that may result from preparing the materials to submit to this contest. Further, all of the submission categories are sensitive subjects that need to be addressed with respect and understanding of how they might impact those involved in the project. If at any time, you or someone working on the project experiences an emotional crisis let an adult know immediately or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline : 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free 24-hour hotline.

Elimination – Providing false information, not meeting the submission deadline, not obtaining the proper release forms and copyright permissions or any other violation of the contest rules can lead to the elimination of an entry. The AAS Directing Change Team reserves the right to disqualify any entry that they believe at their sole discretion to violate safe messaging, to violate the rights of any third party or that violates U.S. or applicable state or local law. Further, the advisor can refuse to submit an entry that is not suitable for schools and a general public viewing audience. All categories have special content that must be included and specific content that must be avoided and can lead to disqualification. Entries should not be uploaded to Vimeo, YouTube or any other video service sites accessible to the public (other than the official contest website as part of the entry form) until after winners have been announced on the website. See “Submission to Other Film Festivals” below as an exception. AAS The Directing Change Team reserves the right to suggest entries be revised if they contain disqualifying content or other content not consistent with the official contest judging form or if the entry promotes incorrect data and statistics. If the revised entry is not submitted by the deadline or deadline identified by the AAS Directing Change Team, and the original entry contains disqualifying content, the film will be disqualified.


Submission to Other Film Festivals – Entries submitted must be original work created by the individuals listed on the entry form. Entries can be submitted to other film festivals after the submission deadline. For a list of film festivals, visit the For Youth page. Entries submitted to this contest are welcome to also be submitted to the California Directing Change contest as long as participants and films meet the contest requirements (e.g., participants must be residents of California, films must be submitted by the deadline of March 1, 2020, etc.). If you are a student living in California and are submitting to the AAS Directing Change contest, the same film can also be submitted to the California Directing Change Contest. And vice versa – if you submitted a film to the California Directing Change Contest, you can submit the same film to the AAS Directing Change Contest in the Suicide Prevention and Animated Short categories.

If you are a student living in California and would like more information about how to submit a film to the California Directing Change Contest please visit the website here.


Entry Process

Entry Process

The following provides a step by step overview of the entry process.  Adult advisors, we recommend that you download the Getting Started Guide with useful tips to help your participants submit winning entries!  Student participants, check out our AAS Directing Change Prezi– it provides an overview of the rules and tips to succeed!


1. Read the contest rules and FAQ!


2. Identify an adult advisor at your school or organization. All participants that are associated with a high school, community-based organization, program, club or other entity must select an adult advisor for their team. The adult advisor is someone who is not on the film submission team. This is required so we can connect your school or organization with free prevention programs and resources and they also qualify for cash prizes. The adult advisor does not need to have knowledge of or expertise in film making or the subject matter (suicide prevention and mental health).


3. Select a submission category and review the content guidelines carefully.  There are two submission categories.

  • Suicide Prevention (60-second PSA):  This category asks for a 60-second film that educates young people about the warning signs for suicide and how to offer support to a friend.
  • Animated Short (30-second PSA):  This category asks for a 30-second, animated film about suicide prevention.


4. Submit an Intent to Direct Form to let us know that you are planning to submit a film and in which category. Submitting the form does not obligate you to submit an entry, just as not submitting the form does not disqualify entries, but it helps us with the planning process. Only one per film team, please!


5. Review educational resources. We have developed several resources to assist with content such as educational films, fact sheets, and a Prezi presentation. Visit the “For Youth” page or “For Schools” page for assistance. Here are a few resources:


Also, be sure to check out the Submission Toolbox for each category which includes tools (such as the logo end slate and the title slide template) that are required with your film submission, and resources to help you with the content of your film.


6. Sign Release Forms and give them to your adult advisor.  Student filmmakers and participants are honor-bound to acquire all necessary permissions and signatures, including parent/guardian signatures if they are under the age of 18, and accept the liabilities for copyright violations. Please review the forms and copyrights page for more information and to download the appropriate forms.  It is best to provide original music, art and images!  (When obtaining permission, you are not just seeking to use permission for submission into the contest, but for all mediums that the film will be used in including online and broadcast).


Important note: All applicable release forms need to be kept on file by the adult advisor. The AAS Directing Change team will request release forms from the winning film teams and any other films that we anticipate may be used to support local awareness efforts, therefore it is important to keep all forms on file. If AAS Directing Change staff ask for release forms and they cannot be provided, the film may be disqualified.


7. Upload your Entry Form and Film. This entry form is due by midnight on Monday, April 20, 2020. You can begin and save this form for up to 30 days.  At the bottom of the form you can click Save and Continue Later.  Once you click this you will be presented with a link that you need to bookmark and with an option to enter your email to receive the link via email.  We strongly recommend doing both, as there is no way for the AAS Directing Change Team to provide you with your link. You will also need the Vimeo URL to submit your film.  Every person that worked on the film (crew) or acted in the film (cast) or whose voice can be heard in the film (cast) needs to provide contact information, their T-shirt size and accept the AAS Directing Change Terms and Conditions.


As part of the entry form, you will be asked to upload your film to the AAS Directing Change Vimeo Channel. Please select your film file and include your film title and a description of the film. When you submit your entry form, the film will be uploaded to the AAS Directing Change Vimeo Channel, where it will be unlisted and only viewable by the AAS Directing Change team.


Troubleshooting tips:

  • Try a different browser (e.g., if you are using Google Chrome, try Internet Explorer).
  • Try uploading the film from a different computer (e.g., instead of your school’s computer, try your home computer).
  • Try uploading the film using a different internet source: we receive many phone calls from students and teachers trying to upload the films while at school, but if your school’s internet blocks Vimeo.com, you will not be able to upload. Either try uploading the film at home/the library/another location, or use a personal hotspot or mobile Wi-Fi to upload.
  • Contact us – we have never disqualified a film as a result of technical problems!


If technical problems persist, please contact us and include your internet browser and a description of the problem you are experiencing. Please be assured that we will not disqualify any entries that did make the deadline as a result of a technical problem with uploading the film.


8. Sit back, relax and think about what an amazing film you just created!


FAQ

FAQ


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