Youth Film Contest Prize UPDATE!

In case you missed our last newsletters, we’ve launched the 2017
Learn more at:


Contest Deadline: March 26, 2017!

CONTACT US to schedule a Filmmaking Workshop @ your School & for Mentoring Help with your Movie!

New Prizes! New Sponsors!

We’d like to thank:

We also want to thank Matt Bucy & Liora Alschuler for sponsoring other awards! Finally, we’d like to express our deep appreciation to our New Contest Sponsors!

Remember to Apply for the
$3500 VT Work-In-Progress Filmmaking Award!
Deadline: February 15, 2017.

Contest Updates!

So you want to make a movie?







We are delighted to announce that Gary Miller, a writer, filmmaker and educational consultant has written a great introductory guide to Filmmaking, which we have uploaded to the Freedom & Unity website @

Our Filmmaking 101 guide include tips for choosing ideas, planning your film, writing a script and storyboard, shooting, editing and exporting. It also has links to where you can find free and inexpensive production and editing equipment as well as other suggestions of many kinds! We hope you find it helpful.

Keep in mind that our CONTEST SUBMISSION DEADLINE is March 26, 2017!


The Freedom and Unity TV Youth Film Contest has funding to provide one-on-one mentorship to students working on film submissions as well as to send filmmakers to classrooms across the state to get kids excited about film. Please contact us to set this up at your school!

NEW $3500 VT

Vermont filmmakers working on a film (in any genre or length) that was shot in Vermont, and/or includes a Vermont theme, who are NOT currently enrolled in an educational institution, are eligible to apply. The application deadline is February 15, 2017.
To learn more, please visit:

Prizes for the contest!

What are the Prizes? 


Not this Statuette That’s to get your attention But we do offer many cash awards

Professional filmmakers judge the competition and if they select your film, you’ll win not only bragging rights but one of the prizes listed below!
We offer CASH AWARDS to 3 different age groups:
  • Middle School
  • High School
  • College and Adult

In every age group, we offer prizes for 3 different categories:

  • Arts and Culture
  • Vermont History & Contemporary Issues
  • Personal Stories

In each category, we offer a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize. The amounts are listed below:

High School, College and Young Adult Prize Amounts:

  • 1st Prize: $500
  • 2nd Prize: $250
  • 3rd Prize: $100

Middle School Prize Amounts:

  • 1st Prize: $250
  • 2nd Prize: $100
  • 3rd Prize: $500

We also give special prizes, like the Jamie Kanzler Experimental Film Award and the Vermont Folklife Center Ethnography Award.

In total, we offer over 30 prizes and give away more than $5000!

In addition to cash prizes, we also love showing your movies. The Premiere Screening of all award winning films will be on MAY 6 and 7, 2017 at the BRIGG’S OPERA HOUSE in WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, VERMONT.

Award winning films also screen at film festivals across the state, on public access stations and on Vermont Public Television!

But the best prize of all may be just finishing your movieIt’s an amazing feeling to tell a story on film!

WATCH last year’s WINNING FILMS @ Winners!

Filmmaking Workshops

At the Premiere Screening, we’re excited to offer Workshops! We’ve listed ideas below but
Story Creation: Writer/filmmaker Gary Lee Miller uses examples from successful films to show how to keep viewers interested with rock solid story structure, sizzling dialogue and dramatic tension.

Decoding Film Language: Director Signe Taylor shows how filmmakers use “Film Language” to create stories. Learn how dolly shots, close-ups, POVs, sound effects, background music and more are part of the secret code of telling effective stories on film.

Ethnography: Vermont Folklife Center instructors will teach participants about this research methodology, which aims to understand experience from the perspective of the person to whom that experience belongs, and will show how to use ethnography as an ethical and effective tool for documentary media making.

Interviewing: Led by a Vermont Folklife Center teacher, participants will explore basic ethnographic interviewing concepts in a conversational setting, and observe and learn from a demonstration interview.

Camera Techniques: DP/Filmmaker Nora Jacobson offers this practical workshop to help you shoot video in a way that excites and entices the viewer. She’ll cover handheld camera work, tripod use, practical lighting tips, how to get good sound. Bring your camera or phone!

Documentary Video Production: An overview of four basic phases of producing a documentary — focusing less on technical training and instead looking at the process as a whole.

Minimal Resource Filmmaking: Learn how to tell compelling stories with materials and tools at your fingertips. Get familiar with how to make a movie using your phone, tablets, iPods and free audio and video editing software.

Working on a Vermont movie?
Apply for the VT Work-In-Progress Filmmaking Award!

Vermont filmmakers working on a film that was shot in VT, and/or includes a VT theme, who are NOT enrolled in an educational institution,
are eligible to apply for this $3500 award.
The deadline is February 15, 2017.
To learn more, please visit: The Vermont Movie

Briggs Opera House!

Please make and submit a movie because we need to fill these seats at the Briggs Opera House!













We’re excited to share that we’ll announce and screen our WINNING FILMS and offer PROFESSIONAL FILMMAKING WORKSHOPS on MAY 6 and 7, 2017 at the BRIGG’S OPERA HOUSE in WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, VERMONT!

We’re thrilled about this location because White River Junction has a special place in Vermont film history. It’s where DW Griffith and Lillian Gish lived while filming the famous silent film Way Down East. White River Junction is also one of Vermont’s art capitals and was described as “quirky and avant garde” by the Washington Post and named one of ten “coolest” towns in the United States by Budget Travel. So please save the date and join us!


Vermont filmmakers working on a film (in any genre or length) that was shot in Vermont, and/or includes a Vermont theme, who are NOT currently enrolled in an educational institution, are eligible to apply. The application deadline is February 15, 2017. To learn more, please visit: The Vermont Movie.





Freedom & Unity Youth Film Contest is BACK!


Announcing the 2017 Freedom & Unity Youth Film Contest and Media Maker Conference

  • Middle school students now welcome!
  • More than $5000 in cash and prizes
  • Two-day Youth Film Festival and Media Maker Conference May 6-7, 2017
  • Student film screening at other festivals, on Vermont PBS, and Vermont Access Network.
  • Teacher Resources: Sample PLP and tips on creating student portfolio pieces using film

Calling all filmmakers ages 10-30 who live or go to school in Vermont! The Freedom & Unity Vermont Youth Film Contest is back, offering more than $5000 in cash and prizes. You’ll also have the chance to share your work on Vermont PBS, Vermont Community Access Network and at film festivals all over the Green Mountain State, including the Vermont International Film Festival, the White River Indie Festival and Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.

The Deadline: March 26, 2017
Don’t miss out! The deadline for the third annual contest, which accepts short films with a Vermont focus, is March 26, 2017. To get rules, enter the contest, and watch last year’s winning films, visit winners.

A Two-Day Festival and Media Maker Conference
This year’s contest will step things up in a big way. We’re expanding to include middle school students. And we’re holding a two-day Youth Film Festival and Media Maker conference on May 6-7, 2017You can view the best of this year’s contest, participate in workshops taught by professional filmmakers, and more.

“We’re thrilled to expand our focus,” says outreach coordinator Signe Taylor.  “With the addition of middle school students, we’re looking forward to seeing even more wonderful films. And the filmmaking workshops at this year’s festival and conference will give students an opportunity to learn more about the process of making good films.”

Teacher Resources
Our contest provides students with an opportunity to create PLP portfolio pieces showing evidence of achievement in Visual & Performing Arts, Global Citizenship, English Language Arts & Literacy, and Transferable Skills. Our Education Coordinator Gary Miller will be producing a sample PLP and tips sheet as well as other materials to support teachers as they work to implement the new guidelines around Personalized Learning Plans and proficiency-based graduation requirements.

Contest Background
The film contest is an outgrowth of Freedom & Unity: The Vermont Movie, a 6-part film series on Vermont history and culture created by 30 seasoned Vermont filmmakers. Nora Jacobson, the Vermont Movie’s executive producer and contest co-founder says, “We wanted to hear what young Vermonters have to say about their home state: What do you they think about, what are their concerns, passions and hopes for the future?” 

The Freedom and Unity Youth Film Contest and Media Makers Conference is supported by the Bay & Paul Foundations, the Vermont Community Foundation, and private donors across Vermont.

If you’re a teacher or a parent of a young filmmaker, send them our way! If you’re a young Vermont filmmaker with something to say, get out your video gear! And be sure to enter your film! 

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival: Freedom & Unity Collection


A selection of the 2016 Freedom & Unity films will be shown at the Middlebury New Filmmaker Festival, Freedom & Unity Collection.

Date: Sunday, August 28, 2016
Time: 10:00am
Location: Marquis Screening Room
Middlebury, Vermont
The Complete Festival Schedule


*A selection of films will also be shown at the Vermont International Film Festival! Check back later for date, time and list of films!

Freedom & Unity Winners Featured on Vermont PBS!

Freedom & Unity winners of 2016’s Youth Film Contest will be featured on Vermont PBS!

There will be interviews with some of the filmmakers, those will air as part of the programs as well! Below are the program details:


HIGH SCHOOL: 10/4/2016, 7:00 PM

First Place – Personal Films, Winner – Jamie Kanzler Experimental Film

Peace or Prozac | Leah Kaliski, Thetford Academy

First Place – Contemporary Issues

Young & Queer Vermont | Alex Escaja, South Burlington High School

First Place – Vermont History

St. Albans Raid | Laurent Gagne, Bellows Free Academy

Second Place – Personal Films

God Left Me with a Voice | Abi Murphy, Northwest Technical Center

First Place – Art & Culture

Vermont Fairy Tale | Cady Ray & Eva Nichols, Poultry High School

Second Place – Art & Culture

Backwoods | Ben Shumlin, Putney School

Judges pick – Vermont PBS

What Vermont Stands For | David McHugh, Central VT Career Center

YOUNG ADULT: 10/11/2016, 7:00 PM

First Place – Contemporary Issues

The Richer, Whiter State | Laurel & Alyssa Chen, Burlington

Second Place – Personal Films

Champlain College Ice Climbing | Nathan Gobes, Champlain College

First Place – Personal Films

Stolen | Rhea Hayes & Alex Schlater, Champlain College

First Place – Art & Culture

Hunting & Fishing in Vermont | Martha Howe, Green Mountain College

Both of these will premiere on these days/times on the Vermont PBS Main Channel and the Plus Channel. PBS will be rebroadcasting these following those premieres, and they will also be available streaming 24 hours after they premiere. (Once PBS has a web page up for a program it will have re-broadcast dates as well as the streaming content when its available.)




Freedom & Unity Youth Film Contest!

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 1.29.57 PM

A selection of films for White River Indie Film Festival!

Sunday, May 15th 2pm-3pm

Barette Center for the Arts

76 Gates Street, White River Junction, Vermont

The Three Year Summer, Noah Detzer, 3:31 min

A letter I’ll never send to the father who should have been there

Emily Williams, 10:14 min.

History of Maple Syrup, Trevor Riff, 2 min

The Ghastliness, Chico Eastridge, 15 min

Lost Then Found: The Lost Boys of Sudan Encounter a Whole New World

Jayme Billings, 9:59

Hunting and Fishing in Vermont, by Martha Howe, 4:58 min

Peace or Prozac , Leah Kaliski, 2.5min

Q&A with filmmakers after the program!

Winners of 2016 Youth Film Competition!


(And a Big Thanks for Your Support!)

We’re pleased to announce that the 2016 Freedom & Unity Youth Film Contest was a great success! Young people from around Vermont submitted nearly 100 films, and we found something to enjoy in every entry. At our 2nd Youth Film Festival, at Vermont College of Fine Arts on May 7, we gave out cash awards totaling $7050 and screened 37 winners and honorable mention films. An audience of more than 100 joined us to watch the films and participate in Q&A sessions with our filmmakers.

Links to all of our submissions and winning films will be posted on the Freedom & Unity website by Thursday, May 19.

Whether you are a filmmaker, a contest sponsor or donor, or just a film lover, we’d like to thank you for your support of our competition. We especially want to thank all of the teachers who encouraged their students to submit films and mentored them in the process!

We want to let you know that winning films from our 2016 contest will be featured in other festivals and venues. It’s all part of our effort to give more visibility to young filmmakers in Vermont, and we hope you will support those efforts by watching the films and visiting the festivals. Watching films made by others is a great way to build your filmmaking skills. And going to festivals is a great way to make connections with other filmmakers and film fans.

This year, a selection of festival winners will be shown at the White River Indie Film Festival, Vermont International Film Festival, Brattleboro Film Festival, and Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.

In fact, one of these festivals is happening next SundayWhite River Indie Film Festival (WRIF) in White River Junction. They have asked us to present an hour-long selection of Freedom & Unity winners. See the blurb

And please keep in touch by liking our Facebook page.

And The Winners Are…

Folklife Center Ethnographic Film Award

Breaking Binary, by Eva Rocheleau, Becca Cottrell, and Fiona Nelson

Champlain Valley Union H.S. and home school

Jamie Kanzler Experimental Film Award

Peace or Prozac by Leah Kaliski, Thetford Academy


Contemporary Issues – High School

 1st Place

Young and Queer Vermont  by Alex Escaja

South Burlington High School

2nd Place

Lost Then Found: The Lost Boys of Sudan Encounter a Whole New World

by Jayme Billings, Browns River Middle School

3rd Place

Distributing Days for Girls Feminine Hygiene kits in Rwanda, Africa

by Aenea Mead, Harwood Union High School

Honorable Mention

Vermont Population Decline by Ezra Marks & Justin Holmes

Middlebury Union High School

Not The New Thing: The Future of Education in Vermont by Jacob Parker,

Ella Nagy-Benson, Alexa Widschwenter, Middlebury Union High School

Heritage or Hate: The Confederate Flag by Annina Hare

Middlebury Union High School

Lake Champlain: The Untold Story by Mason Mashtare

Northwest Technical Center

What Vermont Stands for by David McHugh

Central Vermont Career Center


Contemporary Issues – Young Adults

1st Place

The Richer Whiter State: Seeing Race in Vermont Schools 
Laurel & Alyssa Chen

2nd  Place

Shame On Me by Andrew Woodman, Green Mountain College

3rd Place  
Kelly Burke by Sophie Bodnar, CATV8


Vermont History – High School

1st Place
The Saint Albans Raid by Laurent Gagne, Bellows Free Academy

2nd Place (two winners)

Vermont Skiing HistoryTurning Points  by Sam Strohbehn, Hanover High School

Exploring the History of the Underhill Schoolhouse by Faryal Afsar,  Mount Mansfield  H.S.

3rd Place

Ticonderoga by Ethan Bray, Northwestern Technical Center

Honorable Mentions

Maple Syrup History by Trevor Riff, Oxbow High School/Wilder School

Red Roots by Zane Swift, South Burlington High School

History – Young Adults

1st Place

The Ghastliness by Chico Eastridge

2nd Place

Vermont 1918 by Shaynelle Francis


Personal Films – High School

 1st Place

Peace or Prozac  by Leah Kaliski, Thetford Academy

2nd Place

God Left Me With A Voice  by Abi Murphy, Northwest Technical Center

3rd  Place (2 winners)

European Skull Mounts by Sam Scott, Middlebury Union High School/D.O.

A Letter I’ll Never Send to the Father Who Should Have Been There by Emily Williams, Hartford Area Career and Technology Center

Honorable Mention

Poem for a Friend or Stranger by Charlotte Keathley

Middlebury Union High School

A Day in the Life  by Josh LaFlower,  Spaulding High School

Project Independence by Stacy Sheilds,  Middlebury Union H.S. /D.O.

Spartan Rugby by Mike Odell, Middlebury Union H.S. /D.O.


Special Merit Award in Filmmaking

Vermont The Land We Live by Albert Baird and Ian Biasini

Green Mountain Technology and Career Center


Personal Films – Young Adults

 1st Place 

Stolen by Rhea Hayes & Alex Schlater, Champlain College

2nd Place 

Champlain College Climbs Smuggler’s Notch  

Nathan Gobes, Champlain College

3rd Place  

Sincerely, Vermont by James Abrams,

Rochester Institute of Technology

Honorable Mentions
The Three Year Summer by Noah Detzer

Humans of Burlington by Danielle Hazelton,  Champlain College


Art and Culture  High School

1st  Place

A Vermont Fairytale  by Cady Ray & Eva Nichols,  Poultney High School

2nd Place (2 winners)

Backwoods: A Visual Poem by Ben Shumlin, The Putney School

Vermont is Adventure by Jayvian Poitras, Central Vermont Career Center

3rd Place 

Getting Down To Business  by Cameron Fehnel & Nick Velau

Central Vermont Career Center

Honorable Mention

Maple Sugaring by Cody Lamonda,  Lamoille Union High School


Art and Culture – Young Adult

 1st  Place

Hunting & Fishing in Vermont by Martha Howe, Green Mountain College

2nd Place

Baseball in Vermont by Paul Snyder, Northwest Access TV

3rd Place

Good Sports with Jasper Goodman 

Featuring Norwich University Men’s Ice Hockey Program

by Jay Austin, WDEV Radio Vermont

Honorable Mention

Why Ski?  by India Harvey, St. Lawrence University

Extreme  Walking by Reilly Dillon, Saint Michael’s College

Judge’s Picks

Sobo Slackers  by C. Andrew Camoscio, Champlain College

Things You Wouldn’t Hear Vermonter’s Say by Grace Willean, Lamoille Union High School

What Vermont Stands for by David McHugh, Central Vermont Career Center

Lost Then Found: The Lost Boys of Sudan Encounter a Whole New World

by Jayme Billings, Browns River Middle School

Young and Queer Vermont by Alex Escaja

Kelly Burke by Sophie Bodnar, CATV8

Sugaring by Abigail Judkins, Lamoille Union High School
Poem for a Friend or Stranger by Charlotte Keathley, Middlebury Union High School

Spartan Rugby by Mike Odell, Middlebury Union H.S. /D.O.

European Skull Mounts by Sam Scott Middlebury Union H.S. /D.O.

Peace or Prozac by Leah Kaliski, Thetford Academy

Sincerely, Vermont   by James Abrams, Rochester Institute of Technology

Stolen by Rhea Hayes & Alex Schlater,  Champlain College

Backwoods: A Visual Poem by Ben Shumlin, The Putney School

Thanks to our sponsors and partners!

Vermont Community Foundation, Bay and Paul Foundation,

National Life of Vermont Charitable Foundation
Vermont Folklife Center, Vermont Access Network, 
World Story Exchange, Vermont PBS, Vermont Agency of Education