PHYFF is a student-run event dedicated to helping teenage creatives find their voice in a rapidly expanding community of young filmmakers. This festival is a great opportunity to show off work and get critiques, as well as to network with peers from the area and make industry connections. Our festival is free to enter and attend, in order to allow an equal opportunity for all student filmmakers and film enthusiasts to participate.

The 2020 festival keynote and workshop speakers will be announced before the festival. Below is a sampling of speakers who attended the 2019 festival.


Nathanial Kahn's FINDING YOUR VOICE THROUGH FILM (keynote)

Kathy Van Cleve’s SCREENWRITING 101: A quick but fun summary of the fundamentals of all good movie scripts, meaning you'll look at existing scripts like Eighth Grade and Get Out, learn about terms like "three act structure" and "the hero's journey" and how they apply to writing for film, and figure out why, just maybe, it is harder than you thought to write a good script! We'll conduct one fun but short writing assignment during the workshop and talk about the "business" of film in the time that avails.

Frauke Levin’s DOCUMENTARY PRODUCTION: GETTING YOUR IDEA OFF THE PAGE AND IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA: Have you ever had a great idea for a documentary but didn’t know how to make it happen? How do you move from idea to getting your characters and shots? We will be looking at examples of projects the filmmaker has worked on, spanning such varied topics as Viking Swords and North Korea to deconstruct the early production process that led us here.

Jacob Mazer’s SCENE ANALYSIS 101: Most artists (including filmmakers) are eternal students, studying the work of the greats in order to improve their own craft. This workshop will be a primer to watching film with a critical eye. Together, we'll discuss a few practical approaches to film analysis, then view a selection of scenes in order to figure out how they work and understand their visual storytelling techniques.

Gage Johnston’s STYLE AND SUBSTANCE: HOW THE DOCUMENTARY APPROACH INFORMS THE STORY: In this seminar, we will look at the six types of documentary: essay, participatory, reflexive, performative, poetic and the fly-on-the-wall. What are the strengths of each type? We will have a particular focus on the fly-on-the-wall with a discussion of whether or not it possible to achieve ‘realism’ and ‘invisibility’ in filmmaking.

Paul Bastin’s ESSENTIALS OF POST-PRODUCTION WORK FLOW: In creating video and audio content to tell a story, whether it be a commercial, a short or long film, social media, etc etc, there are so many details to pay attention to throughout the entire process. After all the hard work of in the creative process of developing the story and the actual production of shooting the footage, now comes the process of post production, involving the management of the footage, the editing, effects, audio mixing, color correction, and final outputs. While there is no way to go into every detail of this process, this workshop is intended to go over the broad strokes of what you want to pay attention to and have a basic understanding of the importance of each step that allows for a smooth work flow, and most importantly a final delivery that is what you wanted, and on time.

Alison Bagnall's MAKING A BETTER SHOT: Simple tips and tricks for improving your shots! We will touch on lens choice, multiple planes, quickie lighting tips, achieving better eye-lines, the 180° rule, and shooting for comedy vs. drama. Bring a camera with a zoom lens if you have one or just bring your phone!

Alex Favin's HOW TO BE A STUDENT ENTREPRENEUR IN THE FILM INDUSTRY: This workshop will teach you how to jump-start your career. Explore and discover what inspires you. Learn how to balance educational & professional goals on your path to becoming an entrepreneur. Develop an understanding of the industry landscape and how to secure the position you want (or create it for yourself).

Emory Van Cleve's LIGHTING TIPS FOR STUDENT FILMMAKERS: Working with limited resources can make lighting a challenge for the student filmmaker. This workshop will introduce the key elements of lighting for digital video, some practical tips for working with available light, and a few ways to make creative light sources from a trip to the hardware store.

André Lee's WHY CAN'T I USE THAT SONG IN MY FILM? Every filmmaker edits their film with music they love. What happens when that music is too expensive and/or unavailable for the said film? Copyright laws are complicated. Getting rights to use music in your movie can be even more complicated. This workshop will address and answer questions about when you can and cannot use a song or piece of music in your film.

Jacqueline Joseph's CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: You can’t have a film without characters! How do you define and develop your characters in a documentary film? What makes characters compelling and allows the audience to engage with the story and your film? Through interactive exercises, clips and discussion, we will explore together ways to shape the characters in a film.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each category will receive a certificate, as well as being promoted on and on social media. This also applies to the special category awards. Each of the major awards will receive prizes to be announced soon.

The contest is open to youth ages 14-19, currently enrolled in a high school program (or equivalent).

**IMPORTANT! A valid high school ID must be attached with the submission.**

All movies must have finished production while the students involved were of high school age, including the summer before freshman year and the summer after senior year of high school.

Primary positions for writers, directors, crew, and post-production must be within the specified age range. Only secondary roles (such as talent) may be from outside the age bracket. Otherwise, the film will be ineligible for consideration.

Minimal adult help is allowed. This means adults may advise or demonstrate with the goal of teaching. Adults may drive, help secure equipment and locations, or cater for longer shoots.

All music copyright, talent, and location releases must be submitted with each entry.

Accurate and complete credits are required on-screen and on-file.

An additional backup flash drive or DVD may be sent, just in case.

Films should be under 12 minutes.

Screenplays should be at most 15-20 pages long.

Films must be in English or have English subtitles.

Overall Rating
  • Anne Ploegman

    The festival was quick to respond, was a great experience, and amazing opportunity! Although I could not attend, I am very grateful for having my film screened! I definitely recommend submitting!

    March 2020
  • Jared Goudsmit

    Well-managed festival, super responsive and supportive. Would recommend!

    February 2020
  • Max Shoham

    It was an honour to learn that "Sincerely Anthony" was screening at the Philadelphia Youth Film Festival. I wish I could have been there, it's not every day that a youth filmmaker gets to see his film on the big screen! Thank you for that!

    April 2019
  • Great communication! Fantastic festival for young filmmakers

    April 2019
  • Yuanpeng Cai

    Great communications and a great opportunity to show my work.

    March 2019