Directing Change

Forms and Copyright


When creating a film students should be aware of intellectual property and copyright rules especially if they plan on using elements that someone else has created.

Release forms from each member of the film crew, release of image and voice, location releases, and copyright permissions for each need to be uploaded to the entry form before the film can be submitted by the deadline . Students are responsible for obtaining the necessary written permissions on all copyrighted work.

Here is an overview of all the forms and the process of how to submit them.

Intent to Direct Form

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!   All film teams that submit an Intent to Direct Form by January 15, 2016 qualify to win a one-on-one Skype session with a professional director.  (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 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.

Entry Form

The deadline to submit this form is March 1, 2016.  You can start and save this form for up to 30 days.  To complete the form you will need contact information, T-shirt sizes and uploaded release forms for everyone that is working on your film.  You will also need contact information and uploaded image and voice release forms for every person who appears in your film by image or voice.  Finally you will need a link to your film.

For instructions on how to upload your film to YouTube to create a link to your film click here

You will also need to identify if you are you submitting as a high school student or in the youth category. Mark “high school student” if you are submitting your film as part of a class or club at your high school. You will need to list a high school adult advisor and your high school is eligible to win programs and cash prizes. Mark “Youth” if you are not affiliated with a high school. For example, you may be a community college or university student, part of a community-based organization or an after school or youth program. Visit the FAQ page for more information about this.

New Process for Submitting Release Forms

Signed release forms and applicable copyright forms must be signed online and then uploaded as part of the entry form.

You are now required to upload all release forms to your entry form before you can submit your film. In the past we have had trouble confirming release forms for films submitted to Directing Change, with numerous films being submitted without forms. We attempt to share ALL films, not just winning films, with programs throughout the state to assist in their prevention efforts.  It is important that we have all forms on file, for all films, so that we are able to distribute films as widely as possible.

The NEW electronic submitting process will hopefully make things much easier for you. You must complete the electronic form for every person who works on the film or is depicted in the film by image or voice. Please note that a film cannot be submitted until all forms are uploaded to the entry form.

Steps for completing your entry form and submitting your release forms:

1. Complete “Film Information” section

2. Complete “School/Organization” section

3. Complete “Adult Advisor”

4. Check the box for the “Work Agreement” and “Age Verification”

5. Complete information for each student on the team (up to four)

6. For each student on the team you need to complete the online forms below.  Once they have been signed you will receive a pdf.  This pdf has to be uploaded to your entry form.

Remember- you can only save this form for 30 days!


Release Forms: Every student on the submitting team has to sign a release form providing permission for the program organizers and sponsors to use the film. For students under the age of 18 the form needs to be signed by their parent or a legal guardian. This form has to be signed electronically.  Once each required person (or their parent) has signed the forms you will receive a pdf.  This pdf has to be uploaded to your entry form.

Image and Voice Release Form: For your submission, you need signed release forms from all people whose faces are recognizable and central to the shot or whose voice is featured in the film. In public settings, people in the background do not need to sign a release. This form needs to be signed electronically.  Once each required person (or their parent) has signed the form you will receive a pdf which needs to be uploaded to the entry form. Sign and save your release form here: Release of Image and Voice. Please note: This form is required for any person whose face or voice appears in the film. This includes people whose faces are clearly visible in the background.

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.

Copyright requirements

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.

Signed release forms and applicable copyright forms must be signed online and saved as a PDF.  The PDF forms are uploaded as part of the entry form.

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.

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:

Music tips

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. 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.

  1. Identify the song title and the performer(s) who recorded the song.
  2. 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:
  3. 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
VP Business Affairs/New Technology
Warner Music Group
75 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10019 | 212.275.1348

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

If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, are thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately: 1-800-273-8255This is a free 24-hour hotline.
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