FilmFest 4-H 2023

August 2023
Check back for details!

FilmFest 4-H is a national film festival for youth that are filmmakers, visual artists, aspiring actors, and those that are just interested in meeting other creative people. FilmFest helps youth become producers, not just consumers, of digital media.

FilmFest 4-H takes place in a 4-H environment. Imagination, fun and curiosity are essential! Cameras, smart phones and mobile devices are strictly encouraged. Courtesy and creativity are always in style.

Featured: Screenwriting competition!
In addition to our traditional youth film submission categories, FilmFest 4-H began accepting screenplays for competition in 2021. Information about the category rules and guidelines can be found in the "Resources" tab below!

FilmFest Guidelines (PDF) Submit films & screenplays View resources

Remote video URL
Watch FilmFest 4 H 2019 on YouTube.

FilmFest 4-H 2019

Remote video URL
Watch About FilmFest 4-H on YouTube.

About FilmFest 4-H

  • Narrative — A film which tells a story. Can be based on fact or fiction.
  • Documentary — A film which presents factual information about a person, event or process.
  • Animation — A film created by techniques that simulate movement from individual images.
  • Promotional — This category is for films or public service announcements that are meant to publicize 4-H programs or some other cause that you are passionate about.
  • Voices of 4-H History — A historical perspective on 4-H. May be a narrative, documentary, animation, etc.
  • One Minute Movies — Any movie that is approximately one minute in length!

Why should I consider FilmFest 4-H?

Because this is the single best opportunity for youth to have this level of access and experience with the film industry without spending thousands of dollars.

For many youth, some part of filmmaking (editing, acting, prop making, scriptwriting, visual arts, etc.) is their "spark," that special something that motivates and drives them from deep within. 4-H Positive Youth Development is all about helping youth find and nurture those sparks, to help put them on a positive trajectory in ways that last a lifetime!

What do I need to attend FilmFest 4-H?

A completed registration and reliable internet access. A list of additional supplies that you will need for workshops will be sent out before the event.

Do I need a parent or chaperone with me?

Either one will do! As with every 4-H event, youth must have a responsible adult attached to them. However, because we'll be meeting together online, your parent or chaperone does not have to attend every session with you. They just need to be present – in another room is fine if you're at home. They should be able to answer your questions and supervise some activities. They are welcome to join you for all sessions if they would like, but are not required to purchase their own registration.

Do I have to be a filmmaker, or enrolled in a 4-H film project, to attend the film festival?

Absolutely not. Most participants are teens (and their adults) with an interest in things like film, acting, visual arts, stagecraft, digital media, special effects, makeup, etc.

Isn't there a registration form?

Registration is all electronic. Many of our attendees come as part of a 4-H group, and the group itself may have forms to fill out (such as registration, health, and photo release forms), in accordance with their state's 4-H policies.

What does the schedule look like?

The details of the daily schedule are still being finalized because we're moving to an online platform. Because you'll be joining us from all over the country, the workshops will be more condensed and you'll have the freedom to do meals on your own. The FilmFest Awards Show will most likely take place on Saturday evening as a screening to the public.

What do the workshops entail?

FilmFest 4-H workshops are where film industry professionals teach professional techniques and practices. They tell you about what they do, how they do it, and explore ways that some of these practices can be accomplished on a teenager's budget. You can also ask all the questions you like!

Will I get a chance to meet any of the film industry professionals?

Yes, and they actually enjoy that a great deal. Beyond the interactive workshops, there are opportunities tochat with them afterwards, and even get pictures and an autograph if you wish. Many of our presenters like to sit in on the other workshops, attend the screenings, and enjoy FilmFest experience themselves.

What's the policy on social media and mobile devices at FilmFest?

Social media is encouraged, and selfies are totally legit. The hashtag is #FilmFest4H and you can find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

When is the deadline to submit a film?

The deadline is July 17, 2020. There are no additional fees to submit a film. No late submissions will be accepted. No exceptions.

Do I have to attend in person to submit a film?

No, but those who put in the time and effort to attend the virtual workshops for FilmFest 4-H do get rewarded. Youth who do not attend can still submit films for competition, have their films screened, and may place. However, only the youth who actually attend FilmFest 4-H will be eligible for prizes. If a 3rd place finisher is not present, for example, they still win 3rd place but the 4th place finisher who is present will be awarded their prize.

Below are some of the film industry professionals who have been part of previous FilmFests

Morgan Dameron

"Top 10 Lessons from Blockbuster Sets" (2017)

Morgan Dameron is a Kansas City native who began her film career working at Bad Robot Productions as assistant to JJ Abrams. In this role she has worked on films such as Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Star Trek Beyond, and the television show Westworld. She also served as assistant to JJ Abrams on the film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which you may be able to tell from her last name, which she shares with the character Poe Dameron. More recently, Morgan has written and directed the film "Different Flowers"(opens in new window), which is now available on iTunes and received Official Selection at the Santa Barbara, Omaha, Phoenix, and Kansas City Film Festivals.


Nathan Louis Jackson

Writing for the State and Screen" (2017)

Nathan Louis Jackson has written for shows like Marvel's Luke Cage, Resurrection, and Thirteen Reasons Why. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Nathan Louis Jackson continues his long relationship with the city as the playwright-in-residence at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Before coming back to the city, Jackson's studies took him from Kansas State University to graduate work at The Julliard School.


Pei Cheng

"Making Your Pitch" (2017)

Pei Cheng manages PR and Celebrity Relations for National 4-H Council. Her background includes working with Time Inc. as their lead booking producer for live online programming. Productions she worked with include Sports Illustrated, People, Essence and Fortune. In this role, Pei managed relationships with top agencies and booked talent for media interviews, events, and daily talk shows. The agencies she worked with represent country music stars, actors/actresses, pro-athletes, and even celebrity chefs.


Marlana Hope

"Screenwriting for Television" (2016)

Marlana Hope began her career as a page at NBC and soon became a production assistant on The Oscars. Later, she also served as script coordinator for NBC's Friday Night Lights, TNT's Southland, CW's Reaper, and ABC's Desperate Housewives. Marlana is a member of the prestigious Writers Guild of America, and her writing credits include such series as Amazon's The Kicks and ABC's Army Wives.


Tom Kane

"Voice Acting in Film and Television" (2016)

If you've watched the Oscars, seen a preview for a major motion picture at the theater, or enjoyed your favorite commercials on television, you have already heard Tom Kane in action. Many recognize Tom from animated series like Wolverine and X-Men (Magneto), The Powerpuff Girls (Talking Dog), and Kim Possible (Monkey Fist), or as the voice of Takeo in the hit video game Call of Duty: World at War. However, Tom's largest following comes from his roles in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where he voiced Yoda, The Narrator, and Admiral Yularen.


Bill Chott

"Improv with Bill Chott" (2015)

Bill Chott recently broke the Internet with his moving performance as a mailman on NBC's This is Us. His other credits include Galaxy Quest, The Ringer, Marshall the Miracle Dog, and his recurring role on Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place as Principal Laritate. Before his numerous film and television appearances, Bill was a member of Second City, where he toured the country with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and was taught by Stephen Colbert.


Erica Isben

"Acting with Erica" (2015)

Erica Ibsen is an LA-based actress, as well as a 4-H alum from Montana! Her various film and television roles include Showtime's Dexter, The Kiss, Timber the Treasure Dog, the Joe Dirt sequel Beautiful Loser, and much more. At the 2015 FilmFest 4-H, Erica spoke about life as an aspiring actor and how her 4-H background helps her to be successful. She even conducted a mock casting call for all participants, giving aspiring actors a real feel for what they might expect in this kind of career.


Marshall the Miracle Dog

"Making Marshall" (2015)

Marshall the Miracle Dog's amazing story began with a dramatic rescue on Animal Planet. After being adopted from deplorable conditions, Marshall adopted Cyndi Willenbrock, became a therapy dog, wrote a children's book (with Cyndi's help), launched a bullying prevention program, and had a film -- Marshall's Miracle -- made about his life! Marshall is a friend of 4-H.


Emily Hagins

"Living Your Dream: Writing, Directing, and Shooting a Film" (2014)

At age 12, Emily became the youngest feature film director in the United States, when her work attracted the attention of directors like Cameron Crowe (Jerry McGuire, We Bought a Zoo) and Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Hulk). Now 21, Emily is known for her playful, charming, youth-centric filmmaking style, and has already made four feature films! Her third, My Sucky Teen Romance, about an innocent young teen who falls in love with a vampire at a sci-fi convention, premiered at the prestigious SXSW Film Festival in 2011 where it was picked up for nationwide distribution by Dark Sky Films. Her fourth feature, Grow Up, Tony Phillips, premiered at SXSW in 2013 and was just released on DVD in September, 2014.


David Houlle

"Lighting the Set" (2014), "Visuals and Sounds" (2012)

David Houlle owns and operates the largest film/lighting equipment rental business in Missouri. This company provides the equipment and expertise that large productions need, such as their fleet of grip trucks; dollies and sleds; grip and rigging equipment; car mounts; smoke machines; sound equipment like mixers and mics; and expendables. From PSA's to feature films, Sight & Sound Production Services provides the equipment needed for filmmakers to attain the highest production quality.


Russ Weston

"Filming in Extreme Locations" (2011), "Outdoor Cinematography" (2012), "Working Rugged" (2013), "Remote Locations" (2014)

A legend in the industry, Russ Weston has built a reputation for specialty work in some of the world's most extreme remote locations. From inside an active volcanoe to the icy storms of the Bering Sea, Weston has worked in some of the world's most dangerous environments. A winner of four Emmy and six Telly awards, his extensive client list includes the BBC, Discovery Channel, NASA, and all major television networks. His work includes such series as Amish Out of Order, When Grizzlies Attack, Unsolved Mysteries, House Hunters, Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch, and many more. Russ is also a "4-H Dad," and has been with FilmFest 4-H since its inception.


Joni Tackette

"Casting, – It's Crucial" (2012 and 2014)

Joni Tackette began her career as a Casting Director in 1990 for Central Casting in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., where she learned the business of casting commercials, corporate film, print, and feature film. Joni has worked on over 20 feature film and television projects; her credits include the features Up in the Air and Hannah Montana: the Movie.

Joni took FilmFest 4-H participants on an exploration of the casting process and the critical role that casting plays in the success or failure of a project. She also gave tips and tricks on working with actors and extras. Finally, she offered tips on how to give yourself an advantage if you want to be an actor.


Denis Maloney

"Picture Perfect" (2013)

Veteran Hollywood cinematographer Denis Maloney has worked on more than 30 feature films, including The Contender (2000), which garnered Oscar nominations for stars Jeff Bridges and Joan Allen, and Edmond (2005), starring William H. Macy. The recently completed thriller Vipaka, which features Forest Whitaker, is slated for release later this summer.His television work includes Showtime's acclaimed documentary "20th Century: The Pursuit of Happiness," directed by Robert Zemeckis, plus TV movies for NBC, ABC, Fox and Disney. He is a member of the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers.

In this workshop, Denis explained camera placement, angles, moving camera set-ups, lens selection, framing, when (and what) to light, holding focus, depth of field, and much more.


Farrel Levy

"The Art of Editing" (2012)

Farrel Levy has more than two decades experience as a film and television editor. Her credits include the features Primal Fear and Dirty Dancing, and television series NYPD Blue, Criminal Minds, Person of Interest, and ABC's Nashville.

The techniques and tactics of telling a compelling story - as well as mistakes to avoid - were among the topics Farrel addressed in her very enjoyable 2012 workshop.


Jeff Lewis

"From Masks to Monsters" (2013)

As a makeup artist, Jeff Lewis worked on three Star Trek television series and two feature films, earning six Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Makeup for a Series. Lewis' other work includes Heart of Darkness (1993), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000), the comic adaptation Aquaman (2006), Up in the Air (2009) and much more.

This fascinating workshop focused on using various media to transform actors into aliens and create incredible effects on a teenager's budget.


Sandy Tung

"In the Director's Chair" (2012)

Sandy Tung is an independent film director, writing, and producer. His feature films include Across the Tracks, Confessions of a Sexist Pig, Shiloh 2: Shiloh Season, Saving Shiloh, and Alice Upside Down. He is currently developing the feature Redmen for Open Pictures.

What exactly does a director do? In this rollicking workshop, Sandy took the youth through the preparation process – including writing or re-writing scripts - into the long days of principal photography, and finally into the many facets of post-production. He explained the art of managing and coordinating cast and crew, finding the right locations, and when – and when not – to compromise.


Wyatt Weed

"Miniature Magic" (2013)

Wyatt Weed has been a professional filmmaker for over 25 years, beginning with "Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll" in 1986. His recent feature directing debut, "Shadowland" has gone on to win awards for Best Fantasy, Best Cinematography, and multiple awards for Best Actress and Best Director. His other work includes Red Planet, Mission: Impossible 2, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and Muppets from Space.

In this workshop, youth gained insight into creating miniatures that look like the real thing, using perspective and camera angles to blend them seamlessly into the film. He even gave tips on how to scavenge parts to build models, helping teen filmmakers get a full sized look with their miniature budget.


Tater Haviland

"Outdoor Cinematography" (2012), "Hello, Dolly!" (2013)

Tater Haviland's work has appeared on ESPN, The History Channel, The Outdoor Channel, Versus, Outdoor Life Network, and In Country Television. Some of the shows that you may recognize are: Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, T/C Game Trails, American Hunter, and American Rifleman.

Without the luxury of a studio, Tater has had to become very industrious in creating equipment he needs for the perfect shots. In his latest workshop, youth learned how to create cranes, dollies, tracking systems, etc. with materials they might already own!


Bill Lennon

"Don't Stop the Music" (2012)

Bill Lennon has produced numerous special events, concerts and shows, from DC to LA. Lennon performs in Branson with his wife Gail, in productions such as their Lennon Cathcart Show, and produced the award-winning Lennon Brothers.

In an overview of the music industry, Bill helped young filmmakers understand when they need permission, when they don't, whom to contact when they do, and the simplicity of royalty-free music.


David Wilson

"Creating a Film Festival" (2012)

David Wilson co-founded the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Mo., in 2004. True/False has already grown to be the third largest documentary film festival in the United States. He has served as a panelist at the Sundance Film Festival, and was named to Filmmaker Magazine's list of "25 New Faces of Independent Film." He most recently co-produced and directed We Always Lie to Strangers, which is being screened at film festivals around the country.

In his inspiring workshop, David shared his insights on filmmaking, the story of the True/False Film Festival, and how FilmFest 4-H attendees might create their own 4-H film festival back in their home states.