Fresno Cares Film Contest


Thank you to all of the students who submitted films to the 1st Annual Fresno Cares Student Film Contest. Our judges have finalized their scoring and we are happy to announce the winners below. Great work on producing films during a very difficult time.

Suicide Prevention

1st – Mental Health in Asian Americans

Clovis East High School
Student – Erika Phanouvong
Advisor – Derrick Davis

2nd – Reaching Out
Sierra High School
Student – Kiley Esajian
Advisor – Andrea Marjala

3rd – The World is Better With You In It
Kings View Youth Empowerment
Student – Aileen Aviles
Advisor – Darlene Valadez

Walk In Our Shoes Category

1st – Life is Hard, Let’s Talk About It
Reyburn Intermediate
Student – Andrew Hanamaikai
Advisor – Kaitlin Kuser

2nd – We Can All Speak
Mendota Junior High
Student – Keilany Alvarado
Advisor – Veronica Delgado

3rd – Dino-Chat
Reagan Elementary
Student – James Bishop
Advisor – Jessica Bishop

Fresno Cares Student FILM Contest

In Partnership with the Directing Change Program and Film Contest


One prize for first, second, and third place will be awarded to the team leader listed on the winning films in each category. Prizes subject to change.

iPad Mini

iPad Mini

1st Place
Apple Airpods

Apple Airpods

2nd Place
$100 Amazon Gift Card

$100 Amazon Gift Card

3rd Place


#1 – Fill out the Project Waiver / Release Form

#2 – Pick a category

#3 – Read the category rules/guide

#4 – Create your 1 minute or less video

#5 – Submit your video and release forms

#6 – Wait to be contacted to see if your film won

#7 – That’s it


Project Waiver and Release Form

(For All Cast and Crew)

Everyone involved in the creation of the film or art needs to fill out and keep on file a signed copy of the release form. (And if you are under the age of 18, the release form needs to be signed by a parent or legal guardian.)


  • Suicide Prevention

    (for high school and college students only)

  • Walk In Our Shoes

    (for middle school students only)


Suicide Prevention – Content Scoring Measures:

Be sure to review the disqualifying content information below to learn what to avoid in your film.

The film should communicate a message about suicide prevention that is hopeful and focused on what someone can do to prevent suicide such as reaching out to a friend and seeking support. Images and depictions of people struggling with thoughts of suicide often show them suffering alone and in silence. Instead the film should encourage people to ask for help, reach out to a friend they are concerned about, or to tell an adult if they are concerned about someone. Think of it this way: After someone watches your film what do you want them to do? How do you want them to feel, act or think differently? Here are a few examples of messages your film could communicate.

  • Know the Signs: Most people show one or more warning signs, so it is important to know the signs and take them seriously, especially if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. Click here to learn the warning signs.
  • Don’t keep suicide a secret: It is okay to break a friend’s trust and share your concerns with an adult if you think your friend might be thinking about harming him or herself.
  • Reach out for help: The film should encourage people to ask for help, reach out to a friend they are concerned about, or if a person talks about ending his or her life, to take him or her seriously and connect him or her to help.
  • Find the Words: Asking someone “Are you thinking about suicide?” will not put thoughts of suicide in his or her mind.  In fact, asking this direct question is important.

Although picking up someone’s books when they fall is a nice metaphor, it often takes more than “a simple act of kindness” to save a life.  
Remember that many people don’t know how they should respond to someone who is having thoughts of suicide. Use this opportunity to educate young people and others about what to do, such as talking directly about suicide, seeking help from a trusted adult or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Be Original!  For one, be inspired by winning films from the past, but don’t copy their ideas! Since the suicide prevention category talks a lot about warning signs, using actual “signs” as a metaphor is creative and a great way to communicate the warning signs, but we receive a lot of submissions with this approach.  Think about communicating the message in a way that will really connect with other young people.

Follow these steps to enter the Suicide Prevention category

  1.  Make sure your film is exactly 60 seconds long.
    1. The title slide does not count toward the 60-second limit.
    2. Many of the films (even if they are not winning films) are used to support local awareness efforts and shown in local movie theaters and even on TV.  We are only able to use films that meet the 30 or 60-second requirement (based on the submission category you choose).
  2.  Make sure you include the required end slate.
      • Films must include this end slate which includes a compilation image of logos and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This end slate should appear at the end of your film and within the 60 second limit. Choose one:In addition, you may also include the Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741741) as an additional resource in your film. Learn more about the Crisis Text Line here.
      • Black End Slate (png)

  3. Make sure your film includes the Title Slide
    1. Download the Title Slide Template here.
    2. The title slide is not counted in the 60-second limit and needs to include:
      • Film Title
      • Filmmaker (s) names: (these are the youth involved in the filming, editing, or creation of the film)
      • School or Organization, Club or Other Affiliation Name
      • County (not country)
      • Adult Advisor Name
      • The Submission Category
  4. Make sure you have release forms on file for every participant involved in my film.
    1. anyone else involved in creation of your film must sign a release form, including parent/guardian signatures if they are under the age of 18. Be sure your advisor keeps all release forms on file in case the Directing Change staff asks you to provide them to us. For more information visit the Release Forms page.
  5. Make sure your film doesn’t include any disqualifying content
    1. Be sure you’ve reviewed the “Disqualifying Content” section of the submission category of your film to make sure your film won’t be disqualified for including any of this content. For example, if you’re submitting in the Suicide Prevention category, your film should not include portrayals of suicide deaths, attempts, or actions leading up to an attempt (such as a person holding a gun to their head or standing at the side of a ledge). Any films that show this or show any weapons will be disqualified.

*A reminder! – All film submissions should align with safe messaging guidelines and there are specific safe messaging scoring measures for each category which we encourage you to review.

Suicide Prevention Guideline

Every one of us has the power to save a life if we Know the SignsFind the Words, and Reach Out. Entering a film in this category provides you with an opportunity to share information about suicide prevention, resources and the warning signs for suicide.

Research shows that 60-80% of young people tell a friend that they are thinking about suicide, but less than 25% of those friends go on to seek help for that person. Visit the Know the Signs campaign website for more information about California’s suicide prevention campaign.


Suicide Prevention Resources to Assist You with Content

For background information review these fact sheets and short educational films developed by the Directing Change Team in collaboration with NAMI California.

For additional questions regarding the “Suicide Prevention” category, please contact us.

Suicide Warning Signs for Youth

Warning signs are indications that someone may be in danger of suicide, either immediately or in the near future. Most people show one or more warning signs, so it is important to know the signs and take them seriously especially if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. (

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide.
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future.
  • Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
  • Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:
    • Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
    •  Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
    • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
    • Recent increased agitation or irritability

The following is a list of emergency warning signs that require immediate action!:

  • Threatening self-harm or suicide
  • Person is in act of self-harm or suicide
  • Person has a weapon or other lethal means
  • Seeking weapons or means to self-harm
  • Talking about death or suicide while acting agitated or anxious, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

These warning signs may not signal an emergency situation, but are signs that a person may be in need of help:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Hopelessness
  • Isolation, loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Significant personality change
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Increasing use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Putting his or her affairs in order (for example, giving away favorite possessions, or throwing away important belongings)
  • Becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression (this could be a sign that a person has made a suicide plan)

The Directing Change team is able to provide suicide prevention resources and programs for your school/campus and trainings to help districts meet the requirements of AB 2246. Please contact us.

Walk in Our Shoes

While we all experience different things in life, there’s more that unites us than divides us. We’re all on the same journey —  we’re just in different shoes.

Your challenge is to create a film that shows what it’s like to “walk in the shoes” of someone experiencing a mental health challenge: It should help others develop compassion for the challenges others may be facing, and show what actions can be taken to help.

Maybe you have a friend or family member that has been through a mental health challenge, maybe you’ve been through something yourself, or maybe this is something that hasn’t come up in your life yet. Whatever your experience has been, you can be a part of starting more conversations about mental health and helping create more supportive communities. Visit or for more information.

Important Information and Links:

  • You must be in middle school to submit a film in this category
  • Your film must be 60 seconds in length (not including the title slide but including the required end slate).
  • Required logo end slate for this category. Choose one:
  • Your film cannot use any statistics
  • You cannot show suicide attempts or deaths in your film.  This includes not showing guns, ropes, or pill bottles in your film.
  • Your film should be respectful of different people and cultures
  • Title slide for your film – You may use this title slide template or you may create your own title slide as long as it includes the required informationDownload the Title Slide Template here .
  • Walk in Our Shoes Toolbox – This includes a variety of resources and links to help you with research for your film as well as a submission checklist.
  • Walk in Our Shoes Judging Form

Step 1: Choose one of the three topics to cover with your film and review the suggested resources and activities as a starting point.

  1. The Superhero in each of us,
  2. What is mental health, or
  3. Words matter

THE SUPERHERO IN EACH OF US: STRENGTHS, PURPOSE, AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE LOSE THEM. Every superhero has a strength, or something that they are especially great at. These strengths can often feel like a person’s purpose, or reason for them to be alive… but what happens when someone loses this strength or purpose? Create a film that looks at the world through someone else’s eyes and shows the challenges that someone might face if they feel like they have lost their strength or reason for their life. How can someone tell that a person may no longer want to live? What could an ordinary person do to help?

WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH. We talk a lot about physical health, but what about mental health? What does that look like: Are you happy all the time? Can you be mentally healthy if you’ve had a mental illness? Are there things you can do to improve your mental health like you do for your physical health, or is it something only a professional can do? Create a film that teaches people the truth about what mental health is, or teaches them how someone can build better mental health.

HINT  It should still be a story! Don’t just write a list of definitions but tell us the story of a person who is building better mental health.

HINT  These vignettes we have linked above might be animated, but your film does not have to be. In fact, almost all films we receive are not animated!

WORDS MATTER. We’ve probably all casually thrown around words like “crazy” in everyday life when we were talking about something else. But how does that make you feel if you, or someone you care about, is dealing with a mental illness? Does that make you feel like you can talk about what you’re going through or does it make you feel ashamed or different from others?  The words you use can have a big impact. Even if you know they are untrue, labels that people throw around can still hurt and make you feel disconnected from everyone else. Your film should tell a story that encourages people to use kind and accurate words to talk about mental health.

HINT  Be original! Don’t just have your film be putting sticky notes on someone and then taking it off… Instead, think about what is the effect of labels on someone? How do we get rid of these kinds of labels? What kinds of words can we use to replace these mean words in our everyday language (for example, instead of calling your busy day “insane” or “crazy”, say “ridiculous” or “hectic”).

Step 2: 
Finally, your film should include at least one action that someone could do to help someone else and/or get help for themselves. Feel free to come up with your own actions, but here are some examples:

  • Learn where to find support (like hotlines that are available 24/7)
  • Change the words you use to talk about mental illness
  • Support someone going through a difficult time
  • Speak up when others aren’t supportive
  • Tell a trusted adult if someone is talking about suicide or is harming themselves
  • Start conversations about mental health on campus or with friends to make it easier for others to talk about what they’re feeling and get support
  • Don’t wait — get help from a professional if you’re struggling with mental health challenges

Pro Tip: Be sure to view the lessons and activities before creating your film to get the most points possible for your film!


COVID-19 Safe

Please be safe and adhere to all COVID-19 directives in your area.


Use the equipment you have around you. Most smart phones can be used with beautiful results.

Read the Rules

Be sure to read the rules and guidelines for your category. Your video comes down to your message, be sure it’s clear.

Have Fun

Making films can change lives, enjoy the opportunity to help change your community.


Submission Deadline

March 1st, 2021 at Midnight