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, Dr. Adrienne Heinz: Clinical Research Psychologist, National Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, and filmmaker Bruce Le.

This project is designed to be therapeutic and healing. 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.

Rules & Guidelines

(In progress - will be finalized before project is given to students)

  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. Films must be uploaded to either YouTube or Vimeo for consideration.
  9. Entries will require submission of a single file folder to Dropbox (instructions being developed) with the naming as follows: FirstName_LastName_School_Grade. In the file folder will be:
    1. A signed permission slip (in development) for every student involved in the project or interviewed under 18 years of age.
    2. Every unedited interview used for the documentary with the same naming convention as above: FirstName_LastName_School_Grade
    3. Three (3) hi-resolution stills from the production

Format requirements

  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.

Selection & Judging

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 (in development).


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 adult (18+) and child PTSD. They are also available in Spanish. 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 to schedule with as much advance notice as possible.

Click here for suggestions on free subtitling software.