Contest Rules & Guidelines

How do you know what kind of film to submit and how to make sure it makes it into those which will be judged? You come to this page, that’s how!

Please read all rules and guidelines carefully before submitting your entry.

When you are ready to submit your film, the submission link is at the bottom of this page.

Festival Theme

Films must respond to the theme of the festival: “Activating Change.” Students are invited to interpret this theme as they see fit, so long as audience members can clearly understand how the theme is utilized in the film. We encourage you to be creative with this theme. Try to think beyond your first impressions and see if you can create a focus for a truly original film. Feel free to experiment with different approaches such as animation, puppetry, silent films, stop motion, etc!

In working to create something original, you might consider last year’s theme (“In Another’s Shoes”). The winning videos were ones that showed clever stories from interesting angles, and we encourage you to view those which were judged as the best and given special recognition at this page on, a partner in the Global Student Voice Film Festival. Note that the rule for length of films was different in last year’s festival.


The Global Student Voice Film Festival has rules designed to help all submissions be treated fairly. We hope you will carefully read the rules below and discuss them with your teachers and peers as you give shape to your film!

  1. Please review all of the rules carefully and comply with each. If any of the rules have not been followed, in fairness to others, that film will not be judged as part of the film festival. (Almost half of all submissions last year were rejected for having ignored one or more rules.)
  2. Films should be uploaded to any YouTube account with the “Public” privacy option, and the title should include the tag #GSVFF.
  3. The film should address the theme “Activating Change.”
  4. The film must be original work of the student(s) submitting the video. (See below for the use of media content taken from online.)
  5. The portion of the film addressing the theme must be no longer than 60 seconds, but you may use up to another 30 seconds for credits. The credits section cannot have any film content extending the story; anything after the one-minute mark should focus solely on giving credit to media citations and those involved in making the video.
  6. One goal of the festival is to help students better understand digital citizenship issues related to intellectual property. Therefore, anyone entering will need to follow the very specific rules related to sources and citations (see below). Any image or audio used in the film must be “copyright friendly.” For festival purposes, this means all images and audio used must be made by the student(s), or Creative Commons-licensed content taken from specified websites (see the list of approved sites below). All video footage must be recorded by the student.
  7. All media used must be properly cited in credits at the end, and we have provided models for you. See below for more specific instructions for each type of media and a model format for citations.
  8. Because these films will be freely available online, you will need release forms for anyone identifiable appearing in the video. Release forms are not to be sent to the GSVFF unless requested; students should give these to the teacher, who will confirm in the online entry form that he or she has signed release forms for anyone identifiable appearing in the video. The committee will ask for scanned versions of all release forms for videos that make the finalist round. You may use release forms Next Vista for Learning makes available if your school does not already have something similar that parents approve related to content posted online.
    – Release Form for a Minor (requires signature of parent/guardian)
    – Release Form for an Adult (age 18 or older)
  9. Films must have been created on or after August 20, 2018.
  10. Films must be appropriate for viewing by the general public, including elementary students (as with a movie rating of “G”).
  11. One may enter as many films as one wishes, but each one will require a separate entry form. We encourage the student(s) and teacher/adult sponsor to sit down together and carefully complete the entry form.
  12. Films eligible for the finalist round will be scored using the scoring guidelines below.
  13. Films must be in English, or include English subtitles.

Entry Forms

Each submission will need to have the following form completed:

We strongly encourage the student(s) and teacher/adult sponsor to sit down together and carefully complete the entry form. This is an excellent opportunity to catch things before submitting that may make the video ineligible for judging in the festival.


All students around the world in elementary or secondary school, ages 5-18, are eligible to enter the festival. The entry form requires identifying the name and email address of an adult sponsor, who is normally a teacher, but can be a parent or guardian. The submission form will need to be submitted properly for an entry to be judged.


The final submission deadline is 11:59 p.m. (US Pacific time), on Monday, Feb. 18th.

Optional: All entries received by 11:59 p.m. (US Pacific time) on Monday, Dec. 17th, will receive feedback regarding having met the rules, and may receive feedback on possibilities for improvement, depending on volume of submissions received. Once feedback is given, students can re-submit by the final deadline of Monday, April 9th.


Entries from Early Ages: 5-9 years old, Middle Ages: 10-14 years old, and Upper Ages: 15-18 years old will be judged separately. When submitting your film, please select the category that the oldest of your filmmakers fall into.

Sources and Citations

Your credits should be a list of all the sources of your images and audio. Remember that for the Global Student Voice Film Festival (GSVFF), all film footage must be recorded by the student(s) submitting the film. For this contest, your material must be your own work or copyright-friendly content (media other than footage) taken from one of the following websites:

Music:, ccMixter, Incompetech, or the YouTube Audio Library. You may also use the music offered in your editing software, as long as there are no restrictions running counter to the rules of the GSVFF. If using music from a video editor, include that in your credits as in the model below.

Sound Effects:

Images: Wikimedia Commons, Pixabay, Unsplash, Openclipart, or Flickr (note that images MUST be Creative Commons licensed – for Flickr, we link to and you can choose the tab for Flickr, as this simplifies getting Creative Commons-licensed search results).

Remember that any footage (film recordings) you use must have been recorded by you. Footage taken from an online source will disqualify the entry.

Citation Models

Your closing credits should be a list of all the sources of your images and audio. These sample citations should help you decide how to plan your credits, an essential part of any successful film.

Music: List the name of the piece, the artist, and the site from which it was downloaded. If the piece is one you created or recorded yourself, you must also provide a citation listing the software you used to create it. Follow these examples:

  • Corporation Motivation by Jason Shaw from
  • My Angst by Your Name created in GarageBand
  • Happy Jingle from the WeVideo music library

Sound Effects: List the name of the effect, artist, and site from which it was downloaded. If the effect is one you created or recorded yourself, you must also provide a citation listing the software you used to create it. Follow these examples for citing what you use:

  • Crowd laugh.wav by Adam_N from
  • Students Laughing by Your Name created using Soundtrap

Images: List the name of the image, the name of the person who uploaded it, and the site. Note that the reason for going through the Creative Commons page is to insure that what you use will be copyright-friendly. If the image is one you took or created yourself, you must also provide a citation listing the date you created it. Follow these examples:

  • Lamanai, Belize by joiseyshowaa from
  • fantasy-landscape-elephant-man-sun-2995326 by kellepics from
  • My Baby Brother Throwing a Tantrum by Your Name taken September 2018

This playlist of short videos can help you better understand Creative Commons as it relates to this festival.


Power of the Story (15 pts – 75%)

Does the film convey a story that is compelling and addresses the theme? This represents 75% of your score, and you are encouraged to spend plenty of time crafting your script and getting feedback from others.

Technical Aspects (3 pts – 15%)

The focus here is on meeting basic concerns (appropriate lighting, spoken audio that can be easily understood, balanced volume, etc.). While exceptionally well-produced films do have a small advantage, the key issues are the clarity, creativity, and compelling nature of your story.

Titles and Citations (2 pts – 10%)

Does the film include the use of titles and citations and make it clear for the viewer who is responsible for what is used? Note that if it is unclear that something has been cited (music that isn’t explained in the credits, for example), the film will not be judged.