Student Filmmaking Information
The Forest City Youth Film Festival is here to help high school students from across all of Southwestern Ontario find their voice through film.Submit Now
Much of the time, movies are simple escapism, a way for us to escape our daily lives. But movies are powerful influencers that can also help us decide who we are and how we live our lives.
Today, movies have replaced other storytelling techniques such as cave paintings, orating, and mythology as a guiding influence for most peoples around the world. By watching a movie, we can observe, learn about, comment on and even debate every aspect of our world – and our place in it.
Some movies are watched and re-watched over and over because they universally speak to us as a culture – just like tales of legend and mythology used to for earlier cultures. Many of these universally appealing movies have important things to say.
Making a film will give you the opportunity to say something about YOUR life and the world YOU live in. It will give you a chance to be heard and to share YOUR specific feelings with the world.
Not everyone gets a chance to be heard, and young people in particular often complain about not having a say in conversations driven and controlled by the adults of the world. Now is your chance to say something and to have an impact.
It does not matter that you’re not a film expert or that you’ve never made a film before. You still have a voice that should be heard. Do not be concerned with your technical expertise because even a very simple, technically crude movie with something powerful to say can be effective.
Filmmaking is also an incredible opportunity to learn new skills and to collaborate with others. When you experience the process of making a movie, you create a strong foundation for a wide range of careers, even those that have nothing to do with the business of filmmaking.
Consider how important not just some, but ALL of the GLOBAL COMPETENCIES are to filmmaking:
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship
- Learning to Learn
- Global Citizenship
The fact is, that if you are involved in creating a movie of any substance you will have no choice but to develop ALL of the Global Competencies skills.
Filmmaking will change you. It will stimulate personal growth and allow you – through hard work and collaborative efforts – to earn the satisfaction of sharing your art (your movie) with an audience and to witness first-hand how your art affects them. Your audience may laugh, cry, scream, or grip their seats. They may be curious and learn more about your subject. They may even learn more about our world and their place in it.
Making a film is an experience you will remember for the rest of your life!
Question: Isn’t making a movie really hard?
Yes. But … so what? It’s true that making a movie is challenging, but it is currently easier than ever before. In fact, the technology might literally be in the palm of your hands.
Keep in mind, the equipment is not important. Your technical skills are not important. How much and what kind of resources you have available is not important. With a little help and determination, you can overcome all of that. Do not let yourself be intimidated by the equipment, the technical skills required or your lack of any of it.
The STORY is what’s important. Your IDEA, and the STATEMENT you make about your subject matters most. If you have that, you can succeed even with very little else.
This used to be a massive problem as cameras, for the longest time, were very expensive and difficult to get. With the advancement of smartphones, you have a capable camera right in the palm of your hand.
Many Film Festivals are taking place all over the world that only accept movies shot on a smartphone (Western University has one – https://www.facebook.com/wsffcanada/). These festivals are celebrating how accessible filmmaking has become and hope to encourage more people to start making movies who may otherwise not think it’s possible.
Use what you have access to. Use flashlights, shop lights from a parent’s garage, or simply shoot where you have the amount and quality of light you need to create the look you want. Get creative at using whatever lighting you have available.
CAUTION – Avoid backlighting – especially if you are using a smartphone. Backlighting is a situation where the light source is BEHIND your subject and the camera is in front. This creates a bright “halo” around the subject, but leaves their face dark. A sophisticated film camera can compensate for that, but a smartphone cannot, so make certain we can see your subjects faces by having them face the lighting you have available.
SOUND quality can actually create a bigger obstacle than even picture quality. In this day and age, we’ve all become used to grainy, shaky videos on YouTube and other amateur video platforms, but what people can’t forgive is bad sound quality.
If you do not have access to proper equipment such as a BOOM MIC, a LAV MIC, or a secondary device such as a ZOOM RECORDER, then do all you can to shoot in quiet, controlled areas, with your camera close enough to your subjects to record their dialogue effectively.
Experiment first and do all you can to ensure the audience can hear everything as clearly as possible.
If sound remains a major obstacle for you, consider creating a ‘silent” film. Shoot everything without the use of sound effects or dialogue and then lay music over top to complete the effect. Watch the films of Charlie Chaplain and Buster Keaton for inspiration.
DO NOT use popular music from famous artists that you can hear on the radio/online. That music is called “licensed” music and you need to PAY for the right to use it. The Forest City Youth Film Festival will not accept any movies with popular music without proof of a license agreement with the licence holder. And that is most often very expensive, so …
Use music that you or your team create yourselves, or use ROYALTY FREE music from online libraries such as EPIDEMICSOUND.COM, PREMIUMBEAT.COM, SHUTTERSTOCK.COM, BENSOUND.COM, or AUDIOJUNGLE.NET. There are plenty of other options as well. Be aware that most will require you to credit their website in the film’s credits and in the description of whatever platform that you use to share your movie (such as Youtube or Vimeo). If you do not, your film may be taken down.
You can do that – but only with some conditions.
DO NOT simply recreate something that already exists. DO NOT try to recreate a scene or part of a film or TV series that already exists.
You can, however use a movie, or TV show, or book, or comic or even the lyrics of a song to create something NEW AND UNIQUE.
Consider that the popular young adult Netflix drama “RIVERDALE” is actually a re-invention of the classic, cartoony “ARCHIE” comic books. It is not completely original, but it is significantly different in tone and look than the original source material.
DO NOT disrupt people’s lives to make your movie. Be respectful of your neighbours, people on the street, and everyone who is near you when you are making your movie.
DO NOT shoot on private property without proof of permission.
DO NOT use any DANGEROUS MATERIALS or EQUIPMENT.
DO NOT put yourself or anyone else in dangerous situations.
DO NOT use published music without permission.
You can enter more than once!
You can enter more than one film.
You can enter more than one category.
You can enter as an individual in one category and as part of a team in another.
You are not limited in any way!
This is YOUR vehicle to communicate YOUR ideas! Be original!
Show us who you are – as an individual or as a team!
Stay safe, have fun, and do your best to make your audience FEEL something! You have only one job: TO ELICIT AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE FROM YOUR AUDIENCE.
ANYONE can create a movie. Every life experience, every background, every detail of your, unique life can help create an original and interesting film. Don’t try to blend in. Do your best to STAND OUT!