The World of 7 Billion contest is a project of the Population Education program, provider of K-12 classroom resources and professional development opportunities. Information on next year’s contest will be available soon.
Climate Change and How to Slow It Down
Mazeikiu Gabijos Gimnazija, Mazeikiai, Lithuania
Marius VaitkeviÄius attends MaÅ¾eikiai Gabija Gymnasium in MaÅ¾eikiai, Lithuania, where he is set to graduate in 2015. Marius is not new to the video contest; last year his video on hunger won First Place in that year’s Food Security category. He returned again this year to produce “Climate Change and How to Slow It Down,” a compelling statement on the relationship between population growth and climate change.
Marius’s video catches the viewers attention from the start, opening with a cow passing gas on a green field. “It was quite interesting to find out that livestock plays a big role in global warming,” he says, and this graphic certainly conveys that message. And while the video displays other major sources of greenhouse gases, it also emphasizes the steps we can take to reduce emissions and protect our environment. Marius says the most challenging part was finding time to work on his video while juggling his school load, but he forced himself to keep working even when he felt tired.
Marius plans to put his prize money into his savings account, saying “I would feel bad if I spent the hard-earned money on something useless.” He plans to continue with filmmaking after graduation and turn it into a career. Marius also expresses an interest in human rights and providing opportunities to all people. We hope he continues to use his filmmaking skills to raise awareness of global issues and to inspire others to take action.
A False Reality
Keene High School, Keene, NH
Zach Gavin is a senior at Keene High School in Keene, New Hampshire. He and his group created “A False Reality” as part of their digital filmmaking class. “We decided to do Climate Change because it’s a big issue right now and we wanted to use a little bit of fear to tell people about what could happen in the future.” One student joked about putting a fish in a bowl, and the idea clicked and became the basis for their video.
Zach says that building the set for their video was definitely the hardest part, noting that the entire story had to unfold in just twelve feet of space. They borrowed an old reptile tank from a pet store, and visited a toy store to ask if they could borrow a few town sets and immerse them in water. Graciously, the toy store lent them a couple hundred dollars’ worth of products. Once they had their props, the group had to build their set and capture their shots. “It was a ton of logistics and testing that we had to do â€“ two days to shoot and two weeks to build it. But that’s filmmaking.”
When asked if he has any other hobbies, Zach admits that he works on films pretty much all of his free time. His efforts have paid off as his work won awards in other contests and recently earned him a trip to Washington, DC to meet President Obama. This fall, he heads to Orlando, Florida to study filmmaking.
Climate Change – Bring Back The Color
Medfield High School, Medfield, MA
Skylar Laakso, a senior at Medfield High School in Medfield, Massachusetts, heard about the video contest from her teacher and wanted to take part in a project that could have an impact beyond her school. “It’s a realistic project where we could actually get it published and our innovation could impact many people.” Her group chose the Climate Change category and then honed in on the issue of coral bleaching in order to shed light on an issue of which not everyone is aware.
Skylar’s group liked the style of video where words or images are drawn and then sped up. But achieving this involved a lot of trial and error, and the group was nervous about how it would turn out. “Some of the other groups were crazy good videographers,” she explains, “but in the end we were so impressed with our video.” Skylar also admits they underestimated the time it took to film “Climate Change â€“ Bring Back the Color,” but notes that it was worth it to spend the extra time needed rather than rush through the filming. The result is a creative and informative video that spreads awareness of the threats to our ocean’s corals.
Skylar and her group are discussing what to do with their prize money and would like to put it to good use, perhaps donating it to a local conservation project. Horseback riding takes up most of Skylar’s free time, as well as her job as an assistant groomer at her equestrian club. She plans to pursue Equestrian Studies in college.
The Way We Love
Bryn Mawr School, Baltimore, MD
Senior Georgia Carroll made her video as a final project for her AP Environmental Science class at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland. The video was optional and Georgia chose to pursue it because she is interested in raising awareness about overpopulation. She decided to create a video on Climate Change because she believes it is overlooked by the younger generation. “It’s harder for people to find a passion in it, whereas poverty is a very obvious tragedy and same with water resources.” And while she was previously aware of population issues, the process of researching the topic helped her grasp how large a number seven billion really is. “It’s such a hard concept to understand because those kinds of numbers don’t really exist in my everyday life.”
“The Way We Live” is Georgia’s first video, and she had to learn a lot about production and the various filming options. She went with hand drawn pictures after seeing several effective videos that use simple, clear graphics. The next challenge was to plan what she wanted to say and keep the script under one minute. “Once I figured out what I was going to do, it was pretty easy,” says Georgia, and she put together a video with original graphics and a clear message on the relationship between climate change and population growth.
Georgia stays busy playing three different sports: field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. Next year she will attend Middlebury College in Vermont where she will play lacrosse and possibly pursue environmental studies.
The Poverty Trap
Southern Cross K-12 School, Ballina East, New South Wales, Australia
Tim Eddy, an 11th grader at Southern Cross K-12 School in New South Wales, Australia, is always on the lookout for opportunities to improve his video production skills. He found our contest through an internet search and was so intrigued that he submitted a video in all three categories, two of which made it to the final round. He says the most challenging part of creating the films was writing the scripts and deciding what information to use, but the process made him much more aware about each issue: “I learned a lot of startling things about the poverty trap and how hard it is for poverty-stricken people to get out of the cycle.”
Each of Tim’s videos is unique and demonstrates his competency in various styles of filmmaking. In “The Poverty Trap,” he experimented with motion graphics. “I’d seen a few motion graphics videos where the words created an object relating to the topic, and I thought that would be perfect for this video to tie everything together.” Getting the words to take the shape of the trap was both challenging and time consuming, but his efforts paid off in a compelling visual of the trap in which poor people around the world find themselves.
Tim is an accomplished filmmaker whose videos have won awards in several contests, including the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival and Little Big Shots in Melbourne. He also runs a business, Nifty Book Trailers, where he creates video trailers for authors around the world.
One Penny, Two Penny
Pullman High School, Pullman, WA
Freshman Juliet Gleason created her video as part of a multimedia class at Pullman High School in Pullman, Washington. She chose the Global Poverty category because it had particular resonance with her own life. “A couple of years ago my father lost his job, so we went from being middle class and surviving just fine to using food stamps. I wanted to get out that poverty is not only starving children in Africa but starving children in the U.S. as well.” And since the topic involves money, she thought it would be interesting to include pennies as a visual.
“One penny, Two penny” is Juliet’s first stop-motion animation video, but her background in photography helped her capture the individual shots she needed to weave the animation together. She taped a black t-shirt to the floor of a basement to use as a backdrop and spent two weeks taking pictures and trying to keep her frame in focus. “Every time I look at a handful of pennies I grimace,” she jokes. Her efforts paid off as she created a fluid animation that is both beautiful and engaging.
Juliet plans on using her prize money towards new camera lenses. She has recently starting photographing urban landscapes, such as alleyways. “A lot of times they are hidden and you have to come out and find them, and when you do, it’s magical, and something that is beautiful that you normally don’t think about.” When she’s not creating stunning photography, Juliet can be found running track, swimming, and playing the bass and guitar.
Two Dollars A Day
Sandy Spring Friends School, Sandy Spring, MD
Thaara Shankar is a junior at Sandy Spring Friends School in Sandy Spring, Maryland. She created her video as part of a class project for a population unit. “It was a cool way to use what we learned,” said Thaara, and she gained a lot more facts on population through the process of researching and filming her video. She chose the Global Poverty category because she believes it is an important topic that is not given enough attention.
“Two Dollars a Day” is Thaara’s first video that seeks to instruct and engage an audience on an important issue. She and her group thought it would be most effective to juxtapose the lives of people living in the developed world with those in developing countries. Thaara’s video not only reveals the extent of poverty but also how limited resources and population growth reduce the opportunities of people living in less developed countries. “We really wanted to make sure that people become more mindful to what’s happening to more than half of the world’s population.” Thaara believes that the first step towards change is education and her video serves as an informative glimpse into the reality of global poverty.
Thaara’s school is building an electric car for a local competition and she is considering using the money to help with the project. She also keeps busy by serving on the Maryland Youth Advisory Council, working at her school’s writing center, and serving as a peer counselor. After high school, she wants to pursue art and copyright law.
Overpopulation = Poverty
American International School of Lusaka,
Simon Elischer attends the American International School of Lusaka in Lusaka, Zambia and will graduate in 2015. His video was part of an assignment for his Geography class following a population and demographics unit. However, for Simon, it was not homework but a labor of love, as he has been making films since he was 13. He chose Global Poverty because he has grown up in four different African countries and has a “relatively close proximity to the problems of both overpopulation and poverty.” Even so, he was still shocked by what he learned: “I honestly had no clue that the problem of poverty and population was so widespread and common.”
“Overpopulation = Poverty” is Simon’s first animation â€“ his past films include live action documentaries and narratives â€“ and he taught himself using online tutorials. However, he admits that researching the topic and creating the script posed the greatest challenge, as finding updated, reliable information relating to Zambia was difficult. Simon’s hard work paid off, producing a polished animation with clear facts on how poverty and population growth affect his country.
Simon has seen a lot of the world in his 17 years; his nationality is German and aside from living all across Africa, he has also been an exchange student in France, where he improved his French and met students from all over the world. He stays busy playing tennis and soccer and serving as a photographer for his student newspaper. After graduation, he wants to go to university and is currently thinking of pursuing either Engineering or Film.
Every Drop Counts
Cypress High School, Cypress, CA
Kayla Briet, a senior at Cypress High School in Cypress, California, found out about the video contest through an internet search and was drawn to it because of her interest in environmental science. Water Sustainability seemed like a good fit because “it is local and applicable to everyday lives.” Moreover, water and population issues resonate with her family’s diverse background; she has relatives living in crowded areas like China and Indonesia, and others on American Indian reservations where water shortages occur.
Kayla’s commitment to environmental science meant that she carefully researched all of the information she presented in her video. “I really love to delve into the research aspect,” she said, “and not just spew up words. I love to try to be as credible as possible.” She also composed and performed the soundtrack for “Every Drop Counts,” lending to her video’s originality and personal touch. But for Kayla, the most important message she wants viewers to take away is that their choices can impact the world. “In environmental terms, big companies are so powerful, but when people really believe in themselves and their capabilities we can make a difference in even the smallest choices.”
Kayla is an active filmmaker who has won awards in other contests, including Second Place in the White House Student Film Festival, which won her a trip to DC to meet President Obama. She is thankful for the support of these contests as it has given her a sense of purpose and means her efforts “are not just shrugged off as some random high school student making videos.”
Save Water, Save Our World
Mililani High School, Mililani, HI
Rachel Reichard, a senior at Mililani High School in Mililani, Hawaii, first heard about the World of 7 Billion while searching online for possible video contests. She and her team decided it was the best option for her filmmaking class. “We didn’t want to do one that just advertised a product; we wanted to do one that impacted the community.” Living in Hawaii, Rachel thought Water Sustainability seemed like an obvious category, and the project allowed them to learn something about the topic and then share that knowledge with others.
Rachel has been taking filmmaking classes at her high school for about three years. Her preferred style is to integrate typography with live action, as she does in “Save Water, Save Our World.” However, live action presented its own set of challenges, not least of which was how to represent billions of people on screen. Rachel came up with the idea of having seven people pop up on the screen one by one and then taking her viewers through clips of various everyday uses of water. “We didn’t want to do the typical people turning off the facet. So we thought, how can we show this in the limited amount of time that we have?”
Rachel is considering pursuing filmmaking in college. “In the future, I want to make videos that change people’s ideas of things going on in the world and advocate for things they can actually contribute to.” When she’s not behind the camera, you may find her acting in plays and musicals in her community.
Every Drop Counts
Horace Mann School, New York City, NY
Alexandra Kissilenko is a junior at Horace Mann School in New York City. She learned about the World of 7 Billion contest from a flyer in her school’s hallways and was inspired to participate because of her interest in environmental issues. She chose to submit under the Water Sustainability category because it struck her as such an important issue with potential to get creative. “Every Drop Counts” is not Alexandra’s first production â€“ she has made a few short videos for a production class â€“ but it is her first video that addresses environmental concerns.
Alexandra was inspired to shoot her video on the train, as this is how she travels home each day from school. “I thought it would be a different approach â€“ you usually just see showers and sinks.” But filming on a moving train was not an easy feat; Alexandra and her team only had about ten minutes at a time to shoot before having to switch trains. Audio was another issue, with background noises getting in the way, and the team ended up having to dub over the entire film. But with several takes and great editing they created a polished video that sheds light on the enormous amount of water we consume on a daily basis.
Alexandra wants to continue with filmmaking after high school and is considering pursuing environmental studies in college. This summer she heads to Ecuador to take part in Sustainable Summer, an environmental leadership program where she’ll be able to explore these issues further and use her Spanish language skills.
Start Without Them
Fleming Island High School, Fleming Island, FL
Griffin Powell is a ninth grader at Fleming Island High School in Fleming Island, Florida. He learned about the contest from his AP Human Geography teacher and was inspired to participate because of his interest in filmmaking and also because the Water Sustainability category struck a chord with him. “We’re going to run out of water in Florida and we don’t have a plan to fix it.” Griffin sees this as an issue that is not unique to his state. “With a larger population there is more of a demand to take the water out of the aquifers.”
Griffin’s inspiration for his video came on the drive home from school one day, while his dad was listening to “19,” an 80s song with an electro beat interspersed with clips from radio broadcasts. Griffin liked the effect and so his dad suggested he create a video around this concept. Griffin searched for a song with a similar beat and blended it with audio, video clips, and graphics in an eclectic way. The result is a video that combines facts on water and population growth with an underlying sense of urgency and need for action.
“Start without Them” is only Griffin’s second video to date. However, he is considering using his prize money towards a documentary he and his father want to make about their local water plant. Or he may use it to buy his first car when he turns sixteen next year.
Water: Privilege or Right?
Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Chardon, OH
When a teacher told Andrew Demeter, a sophomore at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in Chardon, Ohip, about the World of 7 Billion video contest, he knew he wanted to take part. Andrew has done many video projects for his school â€“ from filming sporting events to creating promo videos â€“ as well as personal videos sharing his views on a variety of topics. For this contest, he chose to focus on Water Sustainability because “water is one of those things we really take for granted.”
He began his work on “Water: Privilege or Right?” by storyboarding his ideas and keeping in mind that he wanted a relatively simply structure, “something people can easily digest.” Because this wasn’t his first video project, Andrew had a strong idea of how to bring the final product together but even so, he admits there were challenges. Coordinating all aspects of the film â€“ from the information, to the animation, to the voiceover â€“ needed a lot of time and close attention. As for consolidating the information and doing the animation, he reported that it’s “still challenging to take what’s in your mind and manifest that on the computer.”
Video, media, journalism â€“ these are the areas where Andrew likes to spend his free time. In fact, while he’ll save his prize money for now, he acknowledges that it might go towards purchasing stock footage for future video projects. But his passion is paying off as he was recently chosen as one of five winners in the C-SPAN StudentCam documentary contest, a success that came with both prize money and a trip to Washington, DC.