Youth filmmakers and participants are honor-bound to acquire all necessary permissions and signatures, including parent/guardian signatures if they are under the age of 18, and accept the liabilities for copyright violations. If Directing Change staff ask for release forms and they cannot be provided, the film may be disqualified.
Here is an overview of all the forms and the process of how to submit them.
Let us know you are planning to participate! This really helps us get an idea of how many submissions to expect and to get organized! Only one entry per film team please- this should be the lead participant. All film teams need to identify an adult advisor, someone that is not part of the official film team. This adult advisor should be part of the partnering middle school, high school, college, university, community-based organization, program or club and, as the representative for that school or organization, will be eligible to win prizes and prevention programs.
The deadline to submit the Entry Form is March 1, 2021. Every person that worked on the film (crew), has a voice, or acted in the film (cast) needs to provide contact information, their T-shirt size, and accept the Directing Change Terms and Conditions (also referred to as the Release Form). You can begin and then save this form uncompleted for up to 30 days at a time. At the bottom of the form you can click “Save and Continue Later”. Once you click this you will be presented with a link that you need to bookmark and with an option to enter your email to receive the link via email. We strongly recommend doing both, as there is no way for the Directing Change Team to provide you with your link after the fact.
As part of the entry process you will be need to upload your film to our Vimeo site. To get the Vimeo Link go to the “Upload Your Film” section in the Entry Form and follow the link provided. A separate window will open in the entry form and ask you for your name, email and film title and you will be asked to upload your film file. Then click “Submit” and you’ll be given a link to your film which you have to copy and paste into the entry form. (And don’t worry if the film link does not work for you- it will be unlisted and can only be viewed by the Directing Change Team). Important – just submitting the film to Vimeo does not county as your film submission. You have to submit the entry form with your film link by March 1, 2021.
Big news for 2021: You are no longer required to upload your release forms with your entry form. Read more below.
New Process for Submitting Release Forms
Everyone on your cast and crew needs to fill out and keep on file a signed copy of the release form. (And if you are under the age of 18, the release form needs to be signed by a parent or legal guardian.) Signed release and applicable copyright forms should be kept on file by the adult advisor and will need to be e-mailed or mailed to the Directing Change Team upon request. We no longer require you to upload these as part of the entry form, but we strongly encourage you to fill these out now. The Directing Change Team requires hard copies of the release forms for films to move on to the statewide round of judging or before we make award announcements. Once requested, we ask that the adult advisor submits them within 5 days. This time frame may coincide with your spring break. Since it is likely your film is excellent; save yourself time and headache later and get the release forms signed now. Youth are responsible for obtaining the necessary written permissions on all copyrighted work.
To be clear, a signed release form will be required for every person that worked on the film (crew) and acted in the film (cast) or whose voice can be heard in the film (cast).
Steps for completing your Entry Form and submitting your release forms:
- Complete your Entry Form on our website:
- Complete the “Upload Your Film Section” by uploading your film to the Directing Change Vimeo channel, then cutting and pasting your Vimeo URL into the Entry Form
- Complete the “School/Organization” section
- Complete the”Adult Advisor” section
- Complete information for each participant on the team (up to 10)
- Every participant has to read and accept the Terms and Conditions by checking the “I agree” box
- Click “Submit” button
- Complete release forms for every person who participates in the creation of the film
- Print out forms here
- Have each person read and sign the form
- If the person participating is under the age of 18, their parent or guardian must also read and sign the form
- Collect all forms and either scan or take photos of them
- Give all forms to your advisor for safekeeping
Remember – you can save this form for 30 days but please be sure to click “Submit” once you are ready or we will not receive your completed Entry Form! Your lead participant and advisor should receive a confirmation email upon submission of your entry form.
Release Form: Everyone on your crew and cast needs to fill out and provide the adult advisor listed on your entry form with a signed copy of the release form. (And if you are under the age of 18, the release form needs to be signed by a parent or legal guardian.) This includes any actors in your film whose voice or image appears in the film.
How to send us your Release Forms: After the submission deadline, the Directing Change Team may contact your advisor and request copies of release forms for films to move on to the statewide round of judging or before we make award announcements in April. This time frame may coincide with your spring break. If requested, release forms must be sent to us within 5 days using one of the methods below:
- Email: Scan all signed release forms and save as a PDF. The PDF file should include the film name and 2021. Attach the PDF(s) to an email with the subject title “Release Forms for (your school, film title, and film category)”. You can add any additional details about the forms in the body of the email – be sure to include anything that you feel will help the Directing Change team to match your release forms with your film. Email the release forms to: email@example.com
- Snail-mail: Make a copy of all signed release forms and keep on file with the adult advisor (just in case the forms get lost in the mail, you’ll have copies). Mail the original release forms to:
Directing Change Program and Film Contest
1360 Granada Avenue
San Diego, California 92102
Location Permission: The location contract protects both the property owner and the film production team. Getting permission is also a courtesy that can prevent you from being ejected from a location. If you are shooting on private property of any kind, complete the Location Contract. Please note: A location contract is NOT needed if the film is shot on campus.
Any elements in your film, including but without limitation to music, audio, stills, video, supers or other audiovisual materials used must be:
- entirely original, created and performed by the entrant and/or participants; or
- be in the public domain as creative work not protected by trademark or copyright which can be used freely by anyone; or
- purchased or released trademarked or released copyrighted elements, such as music, photographs or logos.
To submit proof of release and permission to use copyrighted materials, please include a signed letter or email from the rights holder that clearly indicates the title of the film, the name of the contest, the student name or advisor name and indicates that there is no restriction to how the film containing the music/pictures/film is used.
Entries that include copyrighted materials or music without the proper permission and signed release forms will be disqualified.
Pictures and Film Clips: You may use public domain images and film clips in your film if you cite your sources in the credits. You will need written permission from the copyright holder to use all copyrighted materials. Please note: Images found in Google searches or elsewhere on the Internet are also protected by copyright laws, even if it doesn’t show a copyright symbol.
Music: Original music or music that is in the public domain (royalty free) may be used in your film if the source is cited in the credits. This means you can’t just download your favorite song on iTunes or from a CD. You will need written permission from the copyright holder to use all copyrighted materials.
Logos: While it may not be possible to keep all brands out of view, there are easy ways to avoid them from being a focal point in your film. For example, dress your actors in clothing without recognizable brands, cover up laptop brands with a sticker or sticky note, or frame your shots so that recognizable stores are not highlighted. While using a brand will not disqualify your film, it may limit the use of your film in television or movie theaters, due to brand copyright laws. We recommend avoiding the hassle and making smart, brand-free choices during the creation of your film so it will not affect its accessibility at a later time!
There is a US Copyright Fair Use Policy that allows teachers and students to use copyright protected material in the classroom. Videos submitted to Directing Change DO NOT fall under Fair Use guidelines, since Directing Change nominated videos might be shown on TV, in a public theater, on posted on the Internet. Therefore we require you to obtain permission to use any music, images, or movie clips.
Useful links on this topic:
- Copyright Kids
More ideas on obtaining permission to use copyrighted materials.
- Copyright and Public Domain
A reference site to help identify public domain songs and public domain music, royalty free music you can use anywhere and any way you choose, performance, sing-along, film, video, advertising, business, or personal.
- Library of Congress’ Taking the Mystery out of Copyright
A great Flash interactive site for teens to learn about the many aspects of copyright.
Your best bet for the perfect music for your film is to record your own creation or find a local band that will record an original song for you and grant you permission to use the song. Check out program such as Apple SoundTrack or GarageBand, Adobe Soundbooth, SmartsoundSonicFire Pro or Movie Maestro, or another music composing software program. Other options include using royalty free music, legally obtained from a royalty free music web site, or royalty-free CD collection.
If you’re trying to obtain permission to use copyrighted music at the last minute, don’t assume that you will receive it in time for the deadline. This is a long process and you may not get the permission you need, which means you won’t be able to submit your film using the music. If this is the way you want to go, here are some tips to get you started. We recommend creating an alternate version of your film just in case the permission doesn’t come through.
- Identify the song title and the performer(s) who recorded the song.
- Using that information, find the Recording Company (Label) that holds the rights to the recording.
- ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers)
- BMI is an American performing rights organization that represents more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music. Click on Search to find your song, by artist or title.
- EMG Evan M. Greenspan is a company that can obtain permission for you to use music in your video (for a fee!) OR they will tell you how to do it yourself:
- Send written permission via email or “snail” mail using the following format: Permission letter sample
Additional contact information for several main music copyright holders:
Universal Music Group (i.e., MCA, Geffen, Mercury, Island)
Director of Licensing
Universal Music Enterprises
2220 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404 | 310.865.0770
Warner Music Group (i.e., Warner Bros., Atlantic, Elektra)
Elliott Peters firstname.lastname@example.org
VP Business Affairs/New Technology
Warner Music Group
75 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10019 | 212.275.1348
SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT INC.
Global Digital Business, Business Affairs
550 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10022
EMI-Capitol Music Group North America (i.e., Capitol, Virgin, Chrysalis)
Alasdair McMullan, Esq.
VP Legal Affairs
1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10104 | 212.492.5056