It was mid-December last year when my high school film teacher approached me with the opportunity to contribute to the White House Film Festival -- a tradition they're carrying on again this year.
The title of the festival itself was pretty intimidating, but also extremely exciting. I felt compelled to participate because of the challenge it would present for me, someone devoting her life to filmmaking. Last year's prompt -- technology -- really resonated with me. Without it, I wouldn't be able to make the films I have so far, or gotten the opportunities I've received.
Right now, you -- or maybe a young person you know -- have the opportunity to do what I did. (I even got to go to the White House!) And this time around, the theme is service -- "The Impact of Giving Back." Learn more and enter a submission today.
Making my film offered me the chance to enter a world of professionalism that I knew I'd need to be comfortable in if I was to go on to be a filmmaker. It gave me the opportunity to work together with my peers, and to turn to my mentors for advice and guidance.
And here's a little advice for anyone thinking of entering: When planning out a film -- no matter how short or long -- make sure it's founded in real substance. Focus on the point you want to get across, and let the voices and opinions of others fill in the blanks for you.
I'm in college now, so I'm one year past eligible, but I highly encourage other young filmmakers to get involved. Participating in the White House Film Festival gave me opportunities that I could not have dreamed of if I hadn't taken the chance and contributed.
Enter today -- and if you're a parent, teacher, or mentor, please spread the word to the creative students you know.
It just might change their lives.