Film Festival Overview

Membership + Director #

Schools must be members of our Association to participate in the Film Festival. All schools must designate an employee or vetted (background-checked) volunteer to advise/supervise students. The advisor is the administrative contact for registering, making arrangements for the squad to participate (such as traveling to screenings, once those are held in person), and supervises students at contests. They also may teach facets of filmmaking.

Eligibility #

Please see Eligibility Rules for detailed student requirements.

Categories #

CategoryMax. TimeDescription
Animation2-8 min.A film that creates continuous motion by means of rapid display of a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other. Animations may be Digital, Hand-Drawn, or Stop-Motion.
Broadcast News3-8 min.A newscast with focus on the visual medium, suited for television or Internet.
Commercial/PSA30-60 sec.(PSA = Public Service Announcement). Announcements intended for television or the Internet that aim to persuade or sell a product or influence the public toward a cause or action.
Demonstration5-8 min.Non-fictional film to specifically instruct how to do something, following a specific process.
Documentary5-8 min.Non-fictional film intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instructing, informing or maintaining a historical record.
Experimental3-8 min.An artistic filmmaking practice that focuses on sensory aesthetics and is often characterized by the use of various abstract techniques (out-of-focus, rapid cuts, etc.), the absence of linear narrative, and often has the goal of placing a viewer in a thoughtful space.
Music Video2-5 min.A multimedia expression centered around a piece of music.
Narrative5-8 min.A film that depicts a fictional or fictionalized story or event, framed within humorous, serious, or science fiction/fantasy genre.

Content Restrictions #

Script Source #

Students must generate original ideas for telling stories; existing scripts or adapting literary sources is a violation of copyright law, unless express permission is attained from the copyright holder/licensing agency.

Music #

Music may be incorporated only if permission and royalties have been paid to the copyright holder/licensing agency. BMI and other licensing agencies may provide a school license, often obtained through music educators and/or activity/athletic directors through a special agreement with NFHS. Learn more here >>

Participation Timeline #

Schools must submit their film entries by the deadline set for the year, published on the Film Festival page.

Video file (or files for multiple film entries) must be uploaded to a cloud-based sharing service. For Film and virtual one-acts, WISDAA is partnered with Ludus’ AnywhereSeat platform, which participating schools may use, free of charge. If not using AnywhereSeat, advisors must ensure video sharing settings allow anyone with the link to view. A film may only be entered by a school once in a WISDAA festival, but may be entered in other festivals that do not have exclusivity agreements (including the WISDAA-administered Theatre-Thespys Short Film contest offered during the fall semester and State Theatre Festival).

Each school’s advisor accesses the WISDAA Film Festival in SpeechWire (link on Film Festival page) and enters information for each film (title, participant names, link). For every five (5) entries or fraction thereof, a school must provide an adjudicator who will evaluate other schools’ entries. Until the deadline, advisors may log back in and make changes to registration as needed. A flat $20/film fee, plus $125 per uncovered adjudicator is assessed.

During a window of dates following the registration deadline, adjudicators will asynchronously evaluate films assigned to them, using an electronic evaluation instrument (e-ballot) on One-act plays are not compared to/ranked against one another; each performance is evaluated on its own merits. Schools/students also may log in and watch other schools’ films.

Awards: films earning the following scores (4 points per area; 9 areas overall) from two of three adjudicators will receive:

  • Outstanding Cinematography: 4 points in “Cinematography” points from at least two adjudicators
  • Outstanding Editing: 4 points in “Editing” from at least two adjudicators
  • Outstanding Sound: 4 points in “Audio” from at least two adjudicators
  • Outstanding Original Music: nomination from at least two adjudicators
  • Outstanding Special Effects: nomination from at least two adjudicators
  • Outstanding Screenplay (Animation, Documentary or Narrative categories): nomination from at least two adjudicators
  • Outstanding Performance (Animation or Narrative categories): nomination by name/character from at least two adjudicators
  • CRITIC’S CHOICE: 35-36 points overall from at least two adjudicators

Expectations: A Checklist #

All films must exhibit:

  • Proper use of titles and credits within the time limit
  • Effective camera angles and shot variation to enhance storyline and finished product
  • Intentional lighting exposures for clarity, storytelling, and a professional finished product
  • Clear artistic vision and collaboration as expressed in the finished product
  • Editing choices that ensure proper flow and pacing, yet tell a complete story

State Festival #

Starting in 2024, we are planning to have an in-person component, where schools can gather together to screen films, and to attend workshops with professionals and educators, where best practices and tactics would be shared!

Updated on 02/05/2024
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