Kids’ Film Fest offers opportunity for youth | Life

MARYVILLE, Mo. — Calling all filmmakers in elementary through high school for a new and exciting opportunity: the first annual Kids’ Film Festival in Maryville is open for registration now through Saturday, June 18.

The idea for the event originated when Jennifer O’Gwin, festival organizer, saw a need for affordable youth activities involving the arts.

“A couple of months ago, my own kids started making movies using our family iPad. I posted a picture of them in their DIY costumes and face paint on social media, and a friend jokingly asked when they could come to the film screening. I started thinking about how cool it would be for my kids and their friends to see their movies on the big screen,” she said, adding that The Hangar owner Tad Gordon “jumped on board” to host the festival as soon as she asked.

O’Gwin’s goal for the festival is to provide a low-cost, inclusive and educational experience for local youth.

“My hope is that this can become an annual activity here in Maryville,” she said. “I would love to see this grow into a program where we could offer youth workshops and classes in addition to the main festival.”

Submitted movies may be filmed on cameras or smart devices. Those who wish to borrow a camera may do so starting June 18 at The Hangar. A parent’s signature and a $10 deposit are required to check out a camera. Several community members donated to the equipment library to make this a possibility, O’Gwin said. There is also a list of free film editing programs and tutorials available to participants.

Each film submission can be up to 5 minutes long. The festival’s film categories include narrative, documentary and animated. Additionally, films will be divided into four age groups.

A panel of local film professors and industry experts will provide feedback for each film and score each movie based on the quality of its storytelling, technical elements and creativity. This will help the filmmakers understand what they did well and what they can improve on for next year.

O’Gwin said she is working with local businesses to offer a prize package and coupons to participants.

She hopes to offer larger prizes in years to come, if interest for the event increases.

Businesses or individuals who would like to support the Kids’ Film Festival may reach out to O’Gwin via the event’s Facebook page.

All films will be shown on Saturday, Aug. 13 at The Hangar. Screenings are free and open to the public. A notification of the showing time will be sent to the participant after their film is submitted. At the individual screenings, the director and participants of each film will be introduced, the film will be shown and the audience will have opportunities to ask the director questions.

Later that evening, there will be a red carpet event and prize ceremony where all filmmakers may dress up, have photos taken by the paparazzi, claim trophies and watch winning films from each category.

At the ceremony, first-place winners will be named in each film category for each age group.

“It’s really important to me that kids and teens see their skills and work celebrated and that they feel like they are a valued part of the community,” O’Gwin said. “I hope the Kids’ Film Fest helps do this.”

To register, visit A $15 participation fee per child is due June 18, at The Hangar. The fee covers the cost of a T-shirt and a trophy at the red carpet event.

Each child may submit only one film. However, participants are allowed to appear in and assist with other films. Official rules for the festival are available at


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