Show your creativity, passion and filmmaking skills to support water and you could win $500 cash! Make sure to follow the instructions and themes below and submit your video by April 24.
We are all connected by water. We all live in a watershed that drains to a creek, lake, or river, and eventually, the ocean. The water that falls where you live may be the same water that flows down a river hundreds of miles away.
We’re fortunate to live in an area with amazing rivers that sustain our iconic pacific northwest salmon, trout, sturgeon, and other wildlife. They provide people a place to boat, float, splash, fish, and paddle. Rivers are also used for shipping goods and some are even used as a source of drinking water.
As cities and towns grew, they built storm sewer systems to move stormwater off buildings, houses and roads as quickly as possible. Today, water that used to soak into the ground flows across hard surfaces and down storm drains along streets, altering our natural waterways and increasing pollution. Storm drains usually lead directly to the nearest stream, carrying oil, grease, dirt, metals, pesticides, litter and bits of plastic are picked up along the way. This pollution is bad news for the water bodies that we use for recreation. It’s also really bad for the fish and wildlife that need clean, cold water to survive. Imagine how you would feel if someone started dumping dirty water into your bathtub while you were using it!
These days, cities are doing more and more to help by adding vegetated stormwater features like rain gardens that help let water soak into the ground and trap dirt and certain other pollutants before it drains to waterways, but this still isn’t enough. Everyone has to pitch in and help out, which is where you come in. Create a video about one of the themes below to inspire others!
Here’s an example commercial from The River Starts Here campaign to get your creative juices flowing. Below you'll find a list of links about filmmaking to help you make your best video. By the way, the drain in this commercial was protected and cleaned after this commercial was filmed, so please don’t put things in drains in your own film or try to remove a grate because they are heavy and dangerous.
One $500 winning prize and one $100 honorable mention prize will be awarded for EACH of the following categories.
- Where does stomwater go? Long Video - create a 55-second film on clean water actions to prevent stormwater pollution or about where your stormwater goes.
- Where does stormwater go? Short Video - create a 25-second film on clean water actions to prevent stormwater pollution or about where your stormwater goes.
- Community Storytelling - express your connection to water through cultural or creative storytelling in a 55-second video.
- BIPOC Filmmaker - we want to hear voices from the BIPOC community! Choose from any category.
- People's Choice - get the most YouTube likes and comments for your film from any category!
Huge thanks to these local businesses for sponsoring the 2023 prizes!
Themes - IMPORTANT!
Choose from one of the eligible themes below. Follow the theme links to learn more and find information that will help you make a great video that is factually accurate. You can also download this printable document with the same information as below: Topics and Resources (PDF)
1. Where does stormwater go?: create a video that demonstrates everyday actions people can take for clean water in one of the themes below. Short videos must be exactly 25 and long videos exactly 55 seconds.
- Where does my stormwater go? - tell the story about where your stormwater goes.
- Healthy home habits - make a video about the simple ways people can prevent pollution around their home.
- Pack it in, pack it out. - Show what ‘pack it in, pack it out’ means by demonstrating tips and ideas people can follow.
2. Community Storytelling: create a 55-second video based on one of the themes below.
- Share a favorite trail near water and why you love it! Include some fun facts about the trail so people who haven’t been there can know about it.
- Think about an experience that connected you with water. Were there experiences you remember when you were young or stories from your family? Was there a memory from water activities with loved ones?
Questions? Contact us.
Application deadline: April 24, 2023
Finalists notified: May 9, 2023
Promote your video for People's Choice award: May 19-25, 2023
Winners notified: June 1, 2023
Winning videos show at local film events: Summer 2023
- Application form (WA students)
- Parent / guardian release form (WA students)
- Eligibility checklist and deadlines (WA students) Printable PDF here.
- Questions? Contact us.
- Do not use stock footage and photos--we want to see your own video. Using copyrighted footage, photos or music will disqualify your video!
- Use YouTube’s Audio Library to find music or use something you’ve created yourself. Your school district may have audio files you could use, such as Sound FX. DO NOT use copyrighted music or your video will be disqualified. Note: there are many YouTube channels claiming to have royalty/copyright-free music. DO NOT use them as the music copyrights can change later and disqualify your video.
- Clean your lens. Film in landscape, or horizontally, so your video is wider than it is tall. Hold your phone with two hands while filming.
- Select your video recording quality settings to high quality, 24 to 30 frames per second, use 60 fps if you plan to slow down the video. Render your edited video to the highest quality as well. Finally, under your YouTube profile, go to settings and select the highest upload quality.
- If using a free video editor, select one that does not watermark and will export to YouTube quality (minimum resolution of 720p). Your school may have video editing software or you can search YouTube for advice on best free mobile phone editors for IOS or Android.
- English and other languages: You may narrate your video in English and use another language as subtitles or narrate in another language and subtitle in English. We encourage cultural perspectives!
- Song parodies: Check out this educational parody of this original Mr. Sandman by the Chordettes for inspiration. Of course, you’d pick a more modern song!
Resources to help you make your best video!
- Shooting better video with your smartphone
- Using a storyboard to plan your video
- Editing your video
- Learn more about YouTube’s Audio Library
- Adding subtitles to your video using SRT files. YouTube supports these file formats.
FAQs - printable PDF here
There will be five prize categories and each will have a $500 winner and $100 honorable mention. Prize categories are: Where does stormwater go? - Long, Where does stormwater go? - Short, Community Storytelling, BIPOC Filmmaker, and People's Choice.
Videos in the Where does stormwater go? theme must be either exactly 25 or 55 seconds long. Videos in the Community Storytelling theme must be exactly 55 seconds. This is to allow time to add a title screen and brand them to be used in Stormwater Partners social media campaigns.
No, each student can submit one video. The video will be eligible for the category you choose and the People's Choice Award. Students identifying as BIPOC will also be entered into that category.
We want to see your creativity! Your entry should primarily consist of original footage, filmed or animated by you. Using copyrighted content can disqualify your video. Review YouTube’s policies on what is acceptable as Fair Use.
If you use music in your video, be sure to include documentation of the source and legal rights in your application form. YouTube Audio Library offers royalty-free and free music. Follow this link to learn more about YouTube’s copyright policies.
- Review the provided topic information carefully! If your video contains inaccurate information, it will be automatically disqualified. Email us if you have questions.
- Keep your video focused on the topic you choose.
- Be sure to include a clear call to action.
- Give your video a descriptive and attention-grabbing title. Think about what it would be called if it was showing in a theater.
- Be creative! Choose a topic that’s meaningful to you and think about unique ways to tell your story.
Stormwater Partners and The River Starts Here campaign are committed to the inclusion of diverse voices to work towards equitable environmental outcomes for all community members. We want to create space for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students to amplify their voices to promote and engage in an ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion dialogue that will lead to meaningful change. Furthermore, we acknowledge that many effects of environmental degradation have disproportionately impacted BIPOC communities and that the Portland-Vancouver metro region is built on the traditional lands of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other tribes. As such, we have created a student BIPOC filmmaker category to further these efforts of equitable environmental outcomes for all.
2022 winners and honorable mentions
2022 winners and honorable mentions by category:
- First place - Daily Actions Affect Everyone by Esti Ziesemer
- Honorable mention - Leave No Trace (b) by Grayden Rounds and Declan Brooks
- First place - How to Prevent a Bad Environment by Jazmin Vasquez and April Ramirez
- Honorable mention - Reducing and Reusing to Prevent Pollution by Olivia Morariu
Clean Water Actions Long Video
- First place - Water Is Life by Noa Anthony Hahn
- Honorable mention - Roberto Is Here to Show You by Roberto Cruz Paredes
Clean Water Actions Short Video
- First place -Today Your Town! Tomorrow the World! by Willow Elizabeth Reddig
- Honorable mention - Clean Up Trash by Connor Smith and Emiliano Jimenez
- First place - Reducing Plastic Waste in Our Creeks by Isabella Parke, Sabrina Joner, Sierra Gramm, Mekenzie Schokelt, Holly Akowskey and Pearl Muherab
- Honorable mention - My Love for Water by Ava Teach
2021 winners and honorable mentions
2021 winners and honorable mentions by category:
Winner - Better Habits for Better Habitats by Hana Feldheger, CAM Academy
Honorable Mention - The Grattix Box by Maia Rodriguez and Olivia Frizzell, Vancouver iTech Preparatory
Clean Water Actions - Long Video (55 seconds)
Winner -The Problem and Solution of Cars by Melia Ballantyne, Gaiser Middle School
Honorable Mention - Better Habits for Better Habitats by Hana Feldheger, CAM Academy
Clean Water Actions - Short Video (25 seconds)
Winner - The Grattix Box by Maia Rodriguez and Olivia Frizzell, Vancouver iTech Preparatory
Honorable Mention - Protect the Water by Autumn Hergert, Gaiser Middle school
Winner - In Awe by Abby Cariño, Mountain View High School
Honorable Mention - Keep Waste In Its Place by Claire Hagele, Wy'East Middle School
Winner - Water and Life by Shelby Inman, Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School
Honorable Mention - The Connection to Water by Amanda Harper, Mountain View High School