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High Tide Student Film Festival 2024

For Southern California High School Student

Black and white photo of ocean waves crashing on a rocky coast

Presented by Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg

Exploring the Ocean Through Creative Visual Storytelling

The Aquarium of the Pacific is excited to invite Southern California high school students to participate in its fourth annual High Tide Student Film Festival. Individuals or teams of 2-4 students are challenged to create a short three-minute video (180 second maximum) on one of three ocean-themed topics (learn more about the topics):

  1. My Favorite Ocean Species
  2. Ocean Heroes and Superheroes
  3. Coastal and Port Cities

Films can be in any style, whether it be a documentary, narrative, live action, animated, puppetry, poetry, or a silent movie. Films are recommended to be original, creative, and connect the audience to the ocean topic in a compelling way.

Awards and Prizes:

  • $2,000 Gold Award
  • $1,500 Silver Award
  • $1,000 Bronze Award
  • $500 Honorable Mention Awards

Finalists Will Also Receive:

  • 6 tickets to the High Tide Student Film Festival Screening and Award Ceremony on Sunday, May 19, 2024, with exclusive access to the Aquarium after-hours.
  • High Tide Student Film Festival Award certificate.
  • Inclusion in news article in the Aquarium’s Pacific Currents magazine.
  • Potential use of film in future Aquarium events and programs.

A distinguished group of judges will determine the High Tide Award Winners based on storytelling, content, creativity, technical and educational aspects. See Scoring Rubric 2024. Finalists are required to attend the Film Screening and Award Ceremony that will be held on Sunday, May 19, 2024, at the Aquarium to receive their awards and prizes.

Copyright Guidelines, Permissions, and Closing Credits

Please read and carefully follow this Copyright Infographic prior to starting your film.

If the film uses any material that is not your own (including videos, photos, music/audio, art, logos, books/articles) it must be from a public domain and copyright free, or you must obtain written permission to use it and provide Proof of Written Permission. All material used must be properly documented and media sources must be cited and acknowledged in both the Materials License Agreement and the required Closing Credits of your film. This is strictly enforced.

Rules and Terms:

Please read and carefully follow these Contest Rules.


This is a free contest. There is no fee to submit your application and film.

Dates and Deadlines:

  • Submissions Are Now Open (Online).
  • February 20 - Application, all forms and final film submissions due.
  • April 15 - Finalists are notified this week.
  • April 30 - Finalists deadline to submit W9 Form (information will be provided to finalists)
  • May 19 - High Tide Film Screening and Awards Ceremony at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Applications and Forms

Application and Forms: All forms must be submitted by Tuesday, February 20, 2024. We will not process incomplete applications.

Each student, even if on a team, must fill out, sign and submit their own Application and Photo Release forms below with parent/guardian signature if under 18 years old. Each team should designate one Team Lead to submit the remaining required items per film on behalf of the entire group:

  • High Tide Application Form 2024
  • Photo Release Forms for Team Members
  • Photo Release Forms for Film Talent - Team Lead Submits: The film team must collect signed Photo Release Forms for all film talent (actors, interviewees, any recognizable faces that appear in the film). We recommend that you download this form in advance of filming and keep paper copies with you at all times while you are filming. You are required to submit with parent/guarding signature for anyone under 18 years old.
  • Materials License Agreement - Team Lead Submits: The film team must submit a signed copy of this form listing all media sources used in the film. Students under 18 years old are required to submit with parent/guardian signature.

We recommend that you use all original work or material that is from the public domain and royalty-free (including: music, images, film clips, pictures, logos) to ensure films are not disqualified due to copyright infringement. Your sources must be appropriately cited in both the Materials License Agreement and in the film’ s closing credits.

If you use any copyrighted material that is not your own or under a creative license, then you are required to provide written permission from the copyright holder showing that you have permission to use it in your film for High Tide Film Festival.  

  • Proof of Written Permission - The team lead submits if applicable.
  • Final Film Submission - The team lead will submit the final film for the group. Submit a h.264 mp4 or mov. Please ensure submitted videos are 1080 (HD) resolution or higher. Please make certain to give PERMISSIONS to view/download when you send this link.

Submission Links Open January 2024.

Final Submission date for all materials: Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Former Winners

Here are examples of some former High Tide Film Festival winners that display different styles:

  • Born From Waves, Sophia Le
  • A Perfect Day at the Pier, Olivia Lopez
  • Crustacean Conservation, Colin Das and Landon Das
  • Just Jellyfish, Luke Steinman
  • Help the Coral Sing, Kimberly Miller
  • The Pelican: Concept to Coasts, Joana Escobar and Steven Lau-Robles
  • Kelp California, Davey Schneider

Important Links