About the Contest

camera.jpgEach year NCAC challenges young people all across the nation to think about their First Amendment rights and the issue of Free Speech. According to the Knight Foundation, “Nearly three-fourths of high school students either do not know how they feel about the First Amendment or admit they take it for granted and more than a third think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.” The YFEP film contest offers young people an opportunity to think critically and creatively about these issues.

In past years, we have received an incredible response. Youth from every corner of the nation – Maine to New Mexico, Oregon to Florida, Hawaii to Oklahoma – have responded with music videos, documentaries, animation, experimental forms, fictional narrative, and old-fashioned propaganda reels. From these submissions, the NCAC staff selects a small group of semi-finalists to be sent to a distinguished panel of judges to choose the top three. 

Winning films are made available on our website and are used in workshops as part of a larger effort to foster youth voices and to educate the public about young peoples' rights.

For more information: visit contest rules and frequently asked questions. You can also check out the previous years' winners at our Youth Film Contest project page.  Submit your application online here.

Film your response in 4 minutes or less. Entries can be videos of any kind, including documentary, animation, experimental, satire, fictional narrative, or music video. Applications must be submitted (and films uploaded to YouTube). All films must be produced in 2016-17 and address the contest theme.

Contestants must be either living in the U.S. or its territories (but need not be citizens), and must be age 19 or younger on the day the film is submitted. Films will be judged on content, artistic and technical merit, and creativity. Judges will be drawn from a panel of renowned writers, actors, and filmmakers.

The top three winners receive cash prizes of $1,000, $500, and $250. The first place winner is eligible to receive a $5,000 scholarship to the New York Film Academy.



1. All films must be uploaded to YouTube and submitted online no later than Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2. Films cannot exceed four minutes, including credits.

3. All films must be produced in 2016 or 2017 and address the topic: "Watch What You #Tweet! How free should social media be?"

4. All members of the filmmaking crew must be age 19 or younger on the day the film is submitted. Actors or interviewees in the film can be any age. If working under the direction of a teacher, mentor, or parent, that person must describe his/her role in detail.

6. Films may be submitted by teams, however please note that for each winning film, any prize money and scholarships will be split evenly among the team members.

5. All entries must be accompanied by a report (approximately 250 words) that explains the intent in making the film, the creative process, and technical accomplishments. All participants should be identified and their roles in the film stated.

6. Filmmakers must be living in the United States or its territories (such as Puerto Rico).

7. The film must be accompanied by the tagline "This film was created for the National Coalition Against Censorship" in the credits.

8. Winning filmmakers will be asked to submit a DVD copy of their film and to sign a release form granting the National Coalition Against Censorship the rights to use, display or distribute the film in carrying out the National Coalition Against Censorship's educational mission. The National Coalition Against Censorship does not limit the original creator's use of the work in any way.


Have Questions?  Hopefully this helps!

1) Can I work with another person?

Yes, you are welcome to work with another person if that person meets the requirements. If you decide to enter the contest as a group, any prizes will be split between or among you. If you do plan to enter this contest as a group, please fill out the the names of all contestants on the form with the one film. You do not need to list your actors unless you want to consider them as part of your group.

2) Can the actors and/or people in the film be 19 or older? 

Yes, the actors can be of any age. It is important that the contestants are 19 years and younger. We will be asking for proof of age from the semi-finalists.

3) Can I/What if I have a mentor or teacher help me?

You can have a mentor or teacher help you, but the filmmaking itself must be yours. Make sure to note on your form the name of the person who will be helping you, and if at all possible, include a signed letter or note from your mentor verifying that they did not participate in the actual filmmaking.

4) Can I submit a film on a DVD, CD (or mini-VHS)? 

We ask that you submit all films online, but if you are unable to do so, we will accept DVD or VHS mailed to us:

Film Contest
National Coalition Against Censorship
19 Fulton Street
Suite 407
New York, NY 10001

5) How do I upload a film to YouTube?

Check out YouTube's awesome help center for information on how to upload your film.

6) When will I find out if I won? 

Semifinalists will be announced in May 2017 and the winners shortly after.

7) Can I include clips of my favorite (song/movie/other)

By submitting an entry to the contest you certify that it is your own original work. However, certain uses of copyrighted material are allowed under Fair Use. The safest materials are those that have already been licensed under Creative Commons. For example, you could use Creative Commons licensed music for your video's soundtrack, and avoid the risk of YouTube's "audio fingerprint" system rejecting your upload because of unlicensed use of a song.