Bridging Divides, Healing Communities
Youth Film Challenge

Deadline extended

Submissions due before midnight, Sunday, November 14, 2021

Read all about the Youth Film Challenge in The Berkshire Edge and Compass

Watch Diane Pearlman on Mass Appeal and Connecting Point.

Have you been thinking about how to address global problems or resolve inequities in your country, your state, your town, your community, your school, or even your family? Do you see a way forward? If you’re between the ages of 14 and 24 and you live or attend school in our region, we’re inviting you to make a 6-minute (or less) film that focuses on a specific challenge that divides us and shows how you would tackle it.

We’ve partnered with Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Civic Life Project to present the Bridging Divides, Healing Communities Youth Film Challenge. It’s easy to apply, it’s free to enter, and you won’t be on your own. You can learn skills from professional filmmakers in free workshops and Q&A days, and we’ll be here to offer advice along the way. Don’t worry about equipment; you can shoot it on your smartphone! We’ll even give you $50 toward your production if you’re among the first 50 to submit your film. We might be able to help out if you don’t have a camera.

Your entry will be judged by a panel of film industry professionals, and you’ll have the chance to win up to $2000 and have your film screened at 3 local theaters. You have until November 14 to submit your film.

Get the details below, start putting together ideas for your film, fill out the application, learn any skills you need to know in our workshops/videos (below), shoot and edit your film, and submit it before midnight, November 14.

Important Details

  • 1

    The submission period ends on November 14, 2021.

    We know it’s tough to make a film during a pandemic, so we have extended the deadline by two weeks. You may enter as an individual or a group; just be sure to enter before midnight 11/14!

  • 2

    Films should be no longer than 6 minutes.

    You may submit a film that’s already been completed or create something new!

  • 3

    You must be between the ages of 14 and 24.

  • 4

    To participate you must be a resident of or attend school in the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation region, which includes Berkshire County, Massachusetts; Columbia County, New York; parts of Dutchess County, New York; and parts of Litchfield County, Connecticut.

    Check this map to see if you qualify.

  • 5

    Fill out the application form.

    (Don’t worry, it’s very short!)
    This lets us know who you are, what topic you plan to address with your film, whether you’re eligible to participate, and if you need help with a camera. It also lets us know that you have read and agree to the rules and terms of the Bridging Divides, Healing Communities Youth Film Challenge.
    You’ll receive an email confirming your application when you’ve completed the form.

    Apply now
  • 6

    Submit your film!

    (Again, it’s a very easy submission process.)

    You’ll receive a confirmation email once we’ve received your submission. Not only is it free to submit your film, but the first 50 people to enter will receive $50 toward their production costs. By submitting your film, you agree to the rules and terms of the Bridging Divides, Healing Communities Youth Film Challenge.


Helpful Guidelines

  • How to Pick a Topic

    Share your views on what’s creating divisions and inequities in society, and show how you’re tackling challenges in your families, schools, and communities. Your film can explore topics such as climate change; the state of our democracy; exclusion based on identity, age, religion or social or immigration status; or any local, national or global issue of your choosing for which there are opposing views yet possibilities for reconciliation and healing.
    Here are a few more ideas (pdf).

    BE CREATIVE! Make a music video, spoken word/poetry session, write a play, do a short documentary, make a commercial or short narrative. The possibilities are limitless!

  • A Few Things To Think About

    What’s the purpose of your video? What’s the message you’re trying to convey? What’s the tone of the video (serious, funny)? How do you want people to feel when they watch it?

  • Title

    Make sure you have an opening title and that you credit the people who starred in and worked on your film.

  • Music

    You can find free music on the internet. Otherwise, you must pay for the right to use music or songs (which can be expensive). You could also create original music.

  • Get a Release

    If you’re filming people, you must get a release giving their permission to participate in the video. It’s a good idea to make several copies of the release form and take them with you on a clipboard (along with pens) whenever you film. Click here for the RELEASE (pdf).

  • Location

    If you’re filming at a location other than your own home or on the property of someone you know, you must get a location release giving you permission to use someone else’s premises. It’s a good idea to make several copies of this form and take them with you on a clipboard (along with pens) wherever you film. Click here for the LOCATION RELEASE (pdf).

  • Submit Your Film

    To submit your film please fill out this short application.

Free online workshops

Saturday, October 23, 5pm eastern time

Directing Your First Documentary

Instructor: Filmmaker iin Purwanti, activist and documentarian

Sunday, October 24, 5pm eastern time

The Sound of Film: Foundational Principles

Instructor: Filmmaker Dien Vo, Professor of Film and Media, Bard College at Simon’s Rock


 Videos of online workshops led by local professional filmmakers to support Youth Film Challenge participants. Watch the videos to learn skills that will help you make your film.

  • Tips on Filming with Your Phone, presented by Ben Willis

    If you own a smartphone, you’ve got a sophisticated, easy-to-use video camera right in the palm of your hand, but you’ve likely only scratched the surface of what you can do with this powerful pocket-size tool. Award-winning documentary filmmaker and educator Ben Willis explains how to get the most out of your smartphone as a video camera, including best practices to capture high-quality footage

    Watch the Video
  • How to Film an Interview, presented by Ben Willis

    Conducting a good interview and capturing it on film or video requires preparation and know-how. Learn the fundamentals of filming an interview, Including how to prepare, testing your equipment in advance, best ways to set up in the physical space, and techniques for putting your interview subjects at ease.

    Watch the video
  • How to Create Great Content/What Is B-roll?, presented by Ben Willis

    Learn multiple techniques for production when it comes to filming b-roll on location, such as utilizing different frame speeds, reliable approaches to camera stabilization, and other tips to make you a better camera operator. You’ll also gain an understanding of post-production techniques, how to use your b-roll effectively, and a few editing tips and tricks to improve the look of your final film.

    watch the video
  • Simple Editing Tools, presented by Joe Aidonidis

    Knowing how to edit—including what tools are available to you—is critical to producing a polished, powerful film. Learn the basics of video editing from award-winning documentary filmmaker Joe Aidonidis. You’ll learn about file storage and basic editing techniques, and you’ll get a general overview of editing tools. These principles will be useful to anyone using any kind of editing software.

    Watch the video
  • Storytelling for Short Films, Presented by Dominique Lasseaur

    The human brain is hardwired for narrative; we think in stories, remember in stories, and turn just about everything we experience into a story. Film and television producer Dominique Lasseur, cofounder of the Civic Life Project, explains how to create a short film with big impact by starting with a broad issue—such as climate change—and telling a story that will resonate with your audience.

  • Preparing to Finish: The Essentials of a Complete Film, Presented by Dien Vo

    Finishing a film can be the most difficult part of the filmmaking process. In this workshop, filmmaker and educator Dien Vo explains how to ensure you have enough material to complete a compelling film. You’ll learn how to plan ahead to make sure you’ve got all the elements you need, so you don’t find yourself missing something important as you finish your film in post-production.

    watch the video

We’ll be scheduling additional online workshops in the fall.
We’ll also set up online Filmmaker Q&A sessions so you can get answers to any filmmaking questions you may have.
Check back for details and schedules.

Other Resources


    For general filmmaking fundamentals, watch this video

  • Official Rules

    Here are the RULES (pdf) for participation. You will need to agree to them when you submit your application.

  • Need a Camera?

    If you don’t have a phone with a camera, we might be able to help. Simply write to us:

Have questions?

Email Us


brought to you by

Saturday, October 23, 5pm eastern time

Directing Your First Documentary

Instructor: Filmmaker iin Purwanti, activist and documentarian