Many teenagers go through a phase where all they want to do is make a movie. You might be hit by a brilliant idea and wish to broadcast it, or maybe you just fancy seeing yourself on a big screen. Why not? What’s to stop you grabbing whatever camera is available, gathering some friends and becoming Sir Peter Jackson for a day? By THOMAS STEVENSON.

Sometimes a lack of motivation is the problem. There’s always that nagging feeling that if you finish a short film, it won’t get the appreciation it deserves. (You may also be afraid that your film will be too much like the undisputed masterpiece known as Sharknado.)

Who, you may ask, is ever going to watch this thing? This is why it’s so great that we have The Outlook for Someday film challenge!

The Outlook for Someday has been running since 2007 and its basic principle hasn’t changed in that time. Challenge entrants are tasked with filming, editing and submitting a movie of up to five minutes’ length. It can be of any genre, from a musical piece to a documentary to animation. The big, overlying idea is sustainability. Every film must interpret sustainability in some way that fits the chosen genre.

For instance, Today Is The Day combines catchy rhymes with an unbreakable eco-warrior spirit. It was made by Better Than Mike Productions, a group based in Hamilton and all 14 to 18 years old at the time of filming.

“Making the musical was such a fun and creative experience for all of us,” says co-director and actress Nowshin Humayun. “We were able to make something of our own and portray a really important message at the same time.”

Overall, the quality of their musical of tree-planting antics was outstanding. In fact, Today Is The Day was announced as The Body Shop Standout Winner for 2013 at The Someday Awards ceremony at the Aotea Centre in Auckland last December. Barrie Thomas, director of The Body Shop, has this to say about it:  “The team behind Today Is The Day has made a memorable film that deservedly wins this award. It is an exuberant look at how we can all do something in our own backyard, and it combines a serious call to action with a verve and vitality that reflects the talent of these young film-makers. It is a film that demands to be enjoyed.”

Another of the 20 awards is the TEARAWAY Secondary School Performance Award, for a film made by young people of secondary school age with strong on-screen performance. In 2013 it was won by Liam van Eeden and Jean-Martin Fabre for their documentary Nearly Lost, a look at the endangered New Zealand sea lion. While these mammals may look dangerous, they’re really more like puppies than man-eating monsters. The myths surrounding them have left them neglected by us humanoids, myths which the film does a good job of dispelling.

“We loved Nearly Lost for the research the creators put into their subject and the clarity and passion with which they delivered the facts,” says TEARAWAY editor Rain Francis. “It was great to see the film-makers using humour as well. The film was wonderfully entertaining, thought-provoking and beautifully made.”

For some past winners, success is ongoing and is taking them way beyond our shores. This year no less than eight films entered in The Outlook for Someday have been nominated for awards overseas. A total of twelve nominations span three festivals in Asia and Europe. Today Is The Day has been announced as an entry in the Seoul International Youth Film Festival (13+ category) and the Green Screen International Wildlife Film Festival in Germany.

Arboraceous, made in 2012 by Natasha Bishop (with sound effects from Tye Bishop), has already gained international recognition and is in the running for more awards. It’s an animated drama with no dialogue, just four guys, some apples and a profound message about how we should care for our planet. As well as winning two The Outlook for Someday awards, including The Body Shop Standout Winner, it also set a record at the Japan Wildlife Film Festival. Natasha was the youngest ever nominee and award winner.
This year it’s also a selected film at Green Screen and at the Wildscreen Panda Awards in the UK.

These are a small handful of the marvellous examples that have arisen from The Outlook for Someday challenge. Project director David Jacobs says, “We’re over the moon about how these young film-makers are cutting it on the world stage. Their success in being nominated at these festivals establishes them as powerful voices for the future. They are impressive in the way they apply their creative juices and technical skills to important social, cultural and environmental issues. They are telling their own stories in their own ways.”

As with any competition, there are some rules. Entrants for 2014 must be 24 years old or less and each film can be up to five minutes in length. The deadline for entries is 12th September and the award ceremony will again be held in Auckland’s Aotea Centre. Remember that the theme is sustainability, or if you prefer, saving the world!

For more info, head to www.theoutlookforsomeday.net