Get a Summer Elective Credit in Filmmaking

filmmakingCalling All Amateur Filmmakers! Looking for something to do this summer? How about working on a video project!

Gain first-hand experience in the concepts of video production and post-production including script writing and storyboarding, prop and character design, scene development, lighting, audio recording, editing, titling, adding special effects, choosing music, sound effects, etc. to produce either a live action or animated video. If you take it seriously as an actual elective course (and why not?), you can even call it “The Art and Craft of Video Production.”

Start with How to Make a Movie in 10 Easy Lessons. You might also want to get Filmmaking for Dummies. Luke Holzmann (son of the creators of Sonlight curriculum) has a free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind, called Filmmaking 101. Another resource is 4H’s Filmmaking Studio and Workshop, where you can watch 11 video workshop modules outlining the basics of filmmaking.

In general, electives tend to be more entertaining and allow for more freedom than other courses. Elective courses enable students to learn something that they find interesting, run with it in any direction they want to go, and expand their world while doing so. Thus, a filmmaking course would be an ideal summer elective, especially if you need to catch up on credits to add to your transcript.

A basic rule of thumb is that a half credit (typical for electives) is earned by 75 hours of study. This translates to 25 hours a month for three months. Simply log the time you spend studying filmmaking, watching films to observe techniques, and producing a short film. [Download a film grading rubric.] This elective will look great on your high school transcript – and not only that, it will be fun!

Here are three video contests to shoot for! Make a short film and win cash prizes! Students can work on a film and submit it over the summer!


2017 South Carolina Student Short Film Competition

Now in its third year, this film contest has separate divisions for middle school, high school, and college students. Submissions accepted through September 22, 2017.

3 Divisions:

  • Middle School
  • High School
  • College

4 Awards:

  • $250 Winner Each Division
  • $500 Winner Best of Show


  • Create a film using the theme “Tikkun Olam”, a concept defined by acts of kindness performed to perfect or repair the world.
  • Your film must be at least 3 minutes long, but no longer than 6 minutes.
  • Your film must abide by PG-13 guidelines.
  • Upload your film to either YouTube or Vimeo by September 22, 2017.
  • Click here to complete a Google form.
  • You must be a South Carolina resident.
  • You can enter only one film.
  • Winning filmmakers will be notified by October 6, 2017.
  • Presentations of awards and screening of the winning films will be held at The Nickelodeon on Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 3:00 pm.
  • Email if you have any questions.


  • Creativity
  • Use of theme
  • Overall quality and production value

Competition Sponsors:

  • The Nickelodeon
  • The Braddock Group
  • Columbia Jewish Film Festival
  • Interfaith Partners of SC
  • University of South Carolina Jewish Studies Program


The Young Filmmakers Project

Designed to foster media arts skills and bring attention to the next generation of South Carolina filmmakers, the Young Filmmakers Project is an annual statewide high school filmmaking competition hosted by Trident Technical College and the South Carolina Film Commission. All high school students in grades 9-12 who are residents of South Carolina are eligible to enter the short film competition, including public, private and homeschool students.

The 2017 Young Filmmakers project is now open! To participate, high school students must create a short film (two minutes max) telling a cinematic story in any genre, following the creative challenge and all rules below.

Entries will be scored by a panel of independent judges on the criteria described below.  Top Ten scorers will screen at a special screening program in Fall 2017. Winners will be announced at the screening. First Prize receives $500, Second Prize $300, and Third Prize $200.

Use your imagination! Be clever and creative! Most importantly, tell a story.  You could win cash, prizes, and a spot on the red carpet.

Deadline for entries is midnight on October 9, 2017.  

To enter, follow these instructions…


Each short film entry must somehow include this specific prop – a padlock and key. Any lock and key will work. A brand new one, old fashioned with skeleton key, an animated version, etc. Use creativity to fit it into your story, and pick one that works with your film’s design and tone.


  1.  Each entrant must be a high school student (grades 9-12) currently living in South Carolina during the 2017-2018 school year.  Students graduating from high school in 2017 may enter, as long as their entry is uploaded and registration form submitted by their graduation date.
  2.  Each entrant may only enter once.
  3.  Films must be at least 30-seconds long and no longer than two minutes.
  4.  All entries must follow the Creative Challenge above, and have at least one 3-second shot of the assigned prop (padlock and key).


  1.  Make an awesome short film, following the contest guidelines and shooting requirements.
  2.  Upload your film to either YouTube or Vimeo by midnight on October 9, 2017.
  3.  Tag your video with “SC YOUNG FILMMAKERS” once you’ve uploaded it.
  4.  Complete and submit the official entry form here.


Films will be judged by a panel of independent judges on the following:

  • Script and Story, including approach to the creative challenge (use of padlock and key)
  • Production Value
  • Design, including graphics, special effects, production design, sets, costumes, etc.
  • Overall Impact

Find out more at


International Ocean Student Film Competition

The film competition sponsored by Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is open to middle school and high school students around the world. The criteria for being accepted to the competition requires that the films be five minutes or less in duration, and touch upon some subject matter regarding the ocean. The Call for Entry for the 2018 Film Festival will open on August 1, 2017. If you have any questions, please email


Films must be ocean-related and touch upon any of these categories:

  • Ocean environments
  • Ocean wildlife
  • Ocean science
  • Ocean cultures
  • National Marine Sanctuaries
  • Ocean sports
  • Ocean industries
  • Ocean history
  • Ocean conservation issues, i.e. climate change, pollution, overfishing, marine debris.

Winning films will be chosen on the basis of creativity and the ability to tell a story that leaves the audience better informed about or moved by the ocean. The first place winner for 2017 was a homeschooler!

Sea of Stories | Azure Allen | 10th grade, Homeschooled, Conway, SC


All submissions will be judged by an elite jury of professional filmmakers and ocean conservationists. The three top winners in each category—middle school and high school—will be eligible to win cash prizes up to $500. Learn more at

And finally, whether or not you enter the International Ocean Film Festival, their scoring rubric is an excellent guide to follow when assessing student films, and thereby makes grading an elective film course a lot easier.

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