Pens to Lens Student Filmmaking Competition
About the Competition
When the Champaign Urbana Film Society (CUFS) first started the Pens To Lens K-12 Screenwriting Competition in 2013, it was with the goal of bringing a part of the filmmaking process to students to learn analytical thinking and an appreciation for the arts. Now the CUFS is bringing the entire filmmaking process to the students of East Central Illinois. Students will have new opportunities to work with technology, collaborate with peers and mentors, and show off their resourcefulness in this 3rd Annual Pens To Lens Student Filmmaking Competition.
- For K-8 students, adult assistance is permitted for submissions as long as the story and creative decisions are all student-made. Adults are encouraged to help students improve their production quality by helping them with photography, sound recording, and editing technology.
- High School student submissions must be written, directed, and crewed by current or just-graduated 9-12th grade students or equivalent grade homeschool students.
- Student films must be produced in East Central Illinois.
- Student films must have a run-time of less than ten minutes.
- Student films must be produced after February 1, 2016.
- Credits should be no longer than 20 seconds in length.
You can enter your film by submitting the form linked below. Before you fill out the form, you must upload your film to YouTube or Vimeo as an unlisted or password protected link. You will then include the link in the designated field in the form.
The submission deadline is June 30th, 2017. Students whose films are selected for screening during the Pens To Lens Gala will be contacted in July.
Each student film is judged against other films within its age group. The age groups are: K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Winning films will be determined based following judging criteria:
- Artistic coherence: films are expected to adhere to classical narrative structure (beginning, middle, and end), or have a unifying concept or idea that sustains its coherence.
- Production value: the film shows good composition, framing, intentional lighting, and sound quality.
Winners are determined by a popular vote by the Pens To Lens Committee.
The winning teams will be awarded a cash prize, given to the film’s director. Winning films may also be selected to be featured during the Pens To Lens 2017 Awards and Screening Gala. All films are eligible for feedback from the judging panel upon request.
Resources for Student Filmmakers
If you’ve already made a film that conforms to the submission guidelines listed above, great! Send it our way.
If you don’t have a film yet, let us know! We can help connect you with equipment, online resources, and mentors. You can email us with questions about equipment or mentorship at Students@penstolens.com.
Here are some initial Q&As to consider as you set out to make your own film:
Q: What is your film going to be about?
A: It is always best to play to your interests.
Q: Do you like making special effects?
A: Make your film story revolve around some effects you know how to do.
Q: Do you like costumes or make up?
A: Set your story somewhere exotic, and decorate your actors accordingly.
Q: Do you prefer a good script and dramatic acting?
A: Keep it simple and focus your energy on finding a serious team and spend time on the edit.
The Pens To Lens Board can provide mentors and group workshops based on interest. While board members cannot participate in making the student film, they can teach student filmmakers how to use hardware like cameras, microphones, and lights, and software for special effects, editing, and exporting. Mentors may not be available in late May or June as they will be finishing their own films for the Pens To Lens Gala, so be sure to express your interest as soon as possible at students@PensToLens.com.
- Student films may not use copyrighted material without express written permission, to be submitted with the film. This includes music, scripts, photographs, and other intellectual property.
- Student films may not feature excessive foul language or drug use. Nudity is forbidden.
- Student filmmakers must not violate any laws when making their film.
- The CUFS and the Pens To Lens Board are not liable for any legal or medical issues that may arise from the production of the film.
- Rules subject to adjustment at the discretion of the Pens to Lens Board.