• Instagram Social Icon


The Student Film Competition is an annual event that encourages - and incentivizes - students from across Sonoma County to practice their storytelling skills. Students work in and outside of classrooms to produce their own short films which are then entered into competition. Winners receive cash prizes and premier on the big screen at the annual Alexander Valley Film festival in October. 



The Alexander Valley Film Society (AVFS) is accepting submissions for the 2018 AVFS Student Film Competition. Winners will be screened at the Alexander Valley Film Festival October 18-21, 2018. The 2018 competition is a collaboration between AVFS, the Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County, the Sonoma County Office of Education, and multiple school districts throughout Sonoma County. Consultants to the project include Debbie Mason: Chief Executive Officer, Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County, Cloverdale High School teachers Joe Dobbins and Wendy Connor, Healdsburg High School teacher John Chevalier, Geyserville New Tech Academy Educator Rick Klug, Dr. Adrienne Heinz: Clinical Research Psychologist, National Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, and Bruce Le: local filmmaker with nearly 20 years of experience in TV and Film.

This project is designed to offer an opportunity for healing and meaning making after loss. It may be used by educators for curriculum, extra credit, or an extracurricular activity. If not part of a class activity, students are allowed to do the project outside of class, on their own time.


Below are several resources for supportive mental health literature to be disseminated to all students involved. If students or teachers feel distressed at any time during the project, here are sample grounding exercises. If referrals are needed for any reason, please the resource section below. The intent is not for students to relive terrifying moments but for us to learn what happened for students and what they have made of it.


Cash prizes of $150 will be offered for Best Middle School Film and Best High School Film. The overall winner will receive the JOSEPH CARNATION, JR. STUDENT FILM AWARD and a cash prize of $250 in honor of late supporter, career educator, and student advocate, Joe Carnation.



  1. Students must reside in Sonoma County. 

  2. Students must submit films on or before October 5, 2018.

  3. Films are not to exceed a running time of three (3) minutes.  Any films submitted that exceed three minutes will not be entered into competition and will not be eligible for juried awards.

  4. This is a documentary film competition. Students must conduct peer-led interviews on the impacts of the 2017 North Bay fires. Students must then edit the interviews into their most compelling three-minute documentary. A rubric will be forthcoming.

  5. Students may work alone or on teams, but interviews may only be used for one documentary.

  6. All interview subjects must live in Sonoma County (or have lived in Sonoma County during the North Bay wildfires) and be in high school or middle school only, no adult family members are allowed. 

  7. Sample starting questions:

    1. What do you remember from the morning of October 9th?

    2. What was going through your head during that time?

    3. If you were evacuated, what did you bring?

    4. What happened to your home?

    5. Were you able to use social media/internet/Cable television? If yes, what information was useful and what was not? If no, what was it like to not have access?

    6. What do you remember from the days that followed?

    7. In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of fire recovery for people who lost their homes and belongings?

    8. How is your family stronger since the fires?

    9. How have you grown? How about your family?

    10. How do you see things differently now?

    11. As large fires are "the new normal," how are you and your family thinking about emergencies in the future?

    12. When you think about our community and healing, what words of hope or inspiration can you offer? What meaning can you make of the loss?

    13. Are there friends who moved away or whose houses burned with whom you’re still in contact? Do you keep in touch? What’s it like now?

  8. Entries must be submitted by sharing a Google Drive folder with the naming as follows: School_FirstName_LastName_Grade. Please share the folder with kathryn@avfilmsociety.org and brucetleis@gmail.com. Please note: by sharing your folder you confirm that all footage may be used by AVFS and the Healthcare Foundation for publicity purposes.

In the file folder must be:

  1. A signed permission slip for every student involved in the project or interviewed under 18 years of age. Click here to download the form.

  2. Every unedited interview used for the documentary with the same naming convention as above: School_FirstName_LastName_Grade

  3. Three (3) hi-resolution stills from the production

Please share the folder with kathryn@avfilmsociety.org and brucetleis@gmail.com.



  1. All of the unedited interviews must begin with "Please state and spell your first and last names. Then say what school you attend and what grade you are in."

  2. Students must observe copyright rules with regards to images and music.

  3. Non-English submissions are encouraged but must include English subtitles.



Submissions will be judged by the Alexander Valley Film Festival Selection Committee.  The selection committee will be comprised of film industry professionals, community leaders, and three panelists chosen by the Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County.  If a film is selected for screening, the entrant will be contacted by AVFS.  Films will be screened at the Alexander Valley Film Festival October 18-21, 2018.  Screening schedule and details will be posted on the AVFS website as they become available. Click here to view a copy of the rubric to be used by the judges.



Call or text NAMI: 866.960.6264

Email NAMI: warmline@namisoco.org

NAMI Online Chat: Go to namisonomacounty.org then click on “WARMLINE: CHAT NOW” in the upper right corner

Visit mysonomastrong.com



Wildfire Mental Health Collaborative (To access supportive services call: 866.960.6264)

       For trauma-informed resources specific to wildfires (available in English and Spanish)


Click here for screening tools for child and adolescent/adult (18+) PTSD. This will help educate on the signs of distress to look out for among students who might benefit from help-seeking.



For in-class skills training from SCOE, please contact kathryn@avfilmsociety.org with as much advance notice as possible to schedule a session with Matt O'Donnell.



  • Adjust video compression format to H.264 or MPEG-4 (with an AAC or MP3 audio codec)

  • Data Rate/Bit Rate: 3000- 5000 kbits/seconds

  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio

  • Dimensions: 1920x1080 



  1. Always use a tripod

  2. Use plug-in microphones when possible and check audio levels with headphones while recording.

  3. Be aware of lighting and strive for even light. If possible, use video lights  to light interviewer.

Click here for suggestions on free subtitling software.


* These resources are not a substitute for professional help and do not constitute treatment or professional advice.