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 Wednesday, May 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, 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 –
• Troubleshooting Upload 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.