[Skip to Content]


Help shine a light one what's working in conservation.

Earth Optimism Summit Announces Student Video Competition

February 2, 2017 | Lauren K. Ward


On behalf of the Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit team, American University Center for Environmental Filmmaking and SkyLine Indie films, we thank everyone for participating in the Earth Optimism Video competition.  A team of seven judges scored videos based on story, storytelling, production value, originality/creativity and outcomes.  We received many compelling stories from students around the world and it was a challenge to select only the three filmmakers below to receive awards:  

∞    Stephanie Gitau, “Dajopen” - Grand Prize 
∞    Sarah Byce, “Conserving Coral Reefs”
∞    Emily Miller, “The Gray Whales of San Ignacio Lagoon"

We will screen these three and other submissions during the Earth Optimism Summit in Washington DC and at partner events in other cities and countries.  All videos also will be posted on the Earth Optimism You Tube channel for our global audience. These wonderful stories of conservation success received from across the globe will help inspire people of all ages to be agents of change for a better future.  Thank you for helping to spread Earth Optimism!



The Earth Optimism global mission celebrates a focus-shift in the dialogue about conservation and sustainability, from problems and losses to hope and solutions. To spread this message we are highlighting examples of conservation success at the first Earth Optimism Summit, a three day event,April 21-23, 2017, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC with partner events across the globe. The Summit will be a gathering of 100 speakers and over 1000 thought leaders, practitioners, pioneering scientists, artists, environmentalists, civic leaders, media, and other conservation-minded citizens. We will convene to discuss and share stories of what is working in conservation and discuss solutions for addressing climate change and biodiversity sustainability.

The power of media, including video shorts, is an important part of this storytelling celebration. A panel of industrial professionals will select up to three contest winners who:
∞    Effectively communicate a story of conservation success.
∞    Showcase a compelling and engaging narrative
∞    Produce a video no longer than 2 minutes, including titles and credits
∞    Are at the undergraduate or graduate level
∞    Create original work, produced and narrated in English
∞    Submit video to filmfreeway.com by March 12, 2017, 11:59pm US EST
The Smithsonian Institution reserves the right to post videos to websites and social media. No Submissions accepted after March 12, 2017. Winners will be announced in mid-March. Questions about video contest may be addressed to EOSummitContest@si.edu

Rules and Guidelines 

Explanation of Video Competition: The theme of this competition is “Conservation Success.” We are asking students to share a success story that involves them personally or highlight a story that needs to be told through a compelling two-minute video. Examples with real outcomes will be most competitive. 

Submissions may be posted on the Earth Optimism YouTube site and select videos will also be shown at the Summit. 

Video Competition Rules and Guidelines: 
1. Videos must be the original work of the entrant. Entrants must hold the rights to any music, graphics, or stock footage used in their productions. In other words, entrants may use any graphics, footage or music that they create themselves, but entrants should NOT use music, graphics, or footage that was created by others without obtaining rights (a license) to use it.
2. The contest is open to any undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited institution. 
3. Videos must be produced and narrated in English.
4. Any factual claims or references to research must be credited.
5. Only one entrant can be named per video, although you can include other people in your video.
6. Videos must be no longer than 2 minutes, including titles and credits.
7. Videos must begin with “Earth Optimism” followed by an opening title. Display credits of those involved in the production at the end of the video.
8. Videos must not directly advertise a product, service, logo, or name of any non-profit
organization, government agency, or private company.
9. See conditions of entry below. 

Please email any questions about the video contest to EOSummitContest@si.edu

Entry Deadline: The competition opens February 1st, and ends March 12th, at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. By submitting an entry, each entrant agrees to the rules of the contest and states that he or she is currently enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student.

How to Submit Video Entries:Upload your video to Dropbox before 11:59 PM Eastern Time, March 12, 2017. Send an email to EOSummitContest@si.edu and make sure to include your email address and contact information, your full name, mailing address, age, name of the school or institution you attend and program of study. We will review videos to make sure they conform to rules, then post them on the Earth Optimism Summit You Tube channel. Contestants will receive notification when videos are posted.

Judging: A panel of judges drawn from competition sponsors will decide the winners based on content, story telling ability, production quality, creativity, and overall impact. Students with limited resources, technical skill and experience with film production should not feel discouraged from entering the video competition. While we look forward to enjoying creative, well-prepared submissions, the most important aspect is your ability to communicate an important story in a compelling and effective video.

Winners will be notified via the contact information provided at the time of entry; the Smithsonian may disqualify anyone who fails to respond to the notification within five business days. Arrangements for travel will be made immediately following notification. Winners will also be announced on the Earth Optimism website and social media channels. Please do not contact us about the status of entries or judging. 

The Smithsonian will determine winners’ eligibility in its sole discretion. 

Prizes: Up to three winners will receive roundtrip coach air transportation (between a major metropolitan airport near the winner's residence), two nights’ lodging, meals, and registration to the three day Earth Optimism Summit at the International Trade Center (Ronald Reagan Building) in Washington DC, April 21-23. Each winner will also have an opportunity to give a short talk at the Summit and be matched for a one on one meeting with a leader in conservation. 

Grand Prize: The student with the best video will receive $1000! The Grand Prize is generously donated by the American University Center for Environmental Filmmaking. 

Winners may not transfer, modify, or substitute the prizes. Any taxes related to the prizes are the responsibility of the winners.  

Sponsors: Smithsonian Institution, Earth Optimism Summit, American University Center for Environmental Filmmaking, Skyline Indie Film Fest

Follow Skyline Indie Film Fest on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Online Features:  The Smithsonian may select any video submission and request high resolution file to post on its websites or social media channels or display in a publicly accessible archive; such selections will be made in the Smithsonian’s sole discretion. 

Helpful Tips on video production: YouTube Creator Academy is a great resource for information and guidance about making videos.  Other useful whiteboard resources you may want to visit are ExplainEverything and ShowMe. 

Some examples of excellent video shorts can be found at: 
•    filmfreeway.com
•    teensdream.net

Conditions of Entry: Entrants retain rights to their videos; however, by entering the competition, you grant the Smithsonian Institution (and those authorized by the Smithsonian) a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or later developed, for non-profit, educational purposes.

All entrants and persons involved in the videos or production thereof hold the Sponsors and their respective regents, directors, officers, employees, emeriti, fellows, interns, research associates, and volunteers (the “Indemnified Parties”) harmless from and against all claims of any nature arising in connection with entrant’s participation in the competition and acceptance or use of a prize. The Indemnified Parties are not liable for any costs, damages, injuries, or other claims incurred as a result of entrants’ participation in the competition or winner’s acceptance and usage of a prize. The Indemnified Parties are not responsible for incomplete or misdirected entries, technical or network malfunctions or failures, or causes beyond their control. Entrants are solely responsible for their entries. Entrants may not submit materials that introduce any software viruses, worms or other programs designed to damage software, hardware or telecommunications equipment or are off-topic, partisan-political, contain advertising, nudity, personal attacks or expletives, or is otherwise abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, discriminatory, libelous, obscene, false, sexually explicit, or that infringes on the rights of any third party.

The competition is void where prohibited or restricted by law. The Smithsonian reserves the right to cancel the competition or modify these rules at its discretion. In the event of a dispute regarding the winners, the Smithsonian reserves the right to award or not award the prizes in its sole discretion. The Smithsonian reserves the right to disqualify any entrant whose entry or conduct appears in any way to: inhibit the enjoyment of others; tamper with the competition; violate these rules or other applicable law or regulation; infringe on the rights of third parties; or act in a disruptive manner. Decisions of the Smithsonian are final and binding.

We look forward to enjoying your stories of success and meeting you at the Summit! Good luck!

Please email any questions about the video competition to EOSummitContest@si.edu