Youth Win Big and Inspire, Educate and Entertain at 4-H Film Festival

4-H film festival trophies AMES, Iowa – It took a lot of work to create two minutes of movie magic, but the rewards included an iPad, cash and the chance for silver screen glory before a crowd of Iowa State Fair film fans. Fourteen films by Iowa teens and preteens competed for a spot in the lineup at the 2011 4-H Film Festival and the top 10 films premiered on the big screen in the 4-H Exhibits Building on Aug. 12. Photos from the event can be viewed on Flickr.

Youth who completed any of grades 5 through 12 participated in the competition and submitted a film in one of three categories: Educate, Inspire and Just 4 Fun. The films ran between one and five minutes. Teams competed for the top prize of an Apple iPad.

“Opportunities like this film festival provide young people with the chance to develop technical skills around design and video production, a skill that is becoming more and more important in today’s online world,” said Holly Bignall with Iowa State University Extension Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET). “Here, youth have the opportunity to share their creativity and express their voice by learning to effectively communicate though the increasingly ubiquitous medium of video.”

Prizes Awarded

The top prize, Best of Festival, went to Axel Zumwalt (ZUM Movies) of Linn County for his movie, “10 Weirdest Things to Trip Over.” Zumwalt also received the Just 4 Fun Category Award. For Best of Festival, he received an Apple iPad, a feature on “Your Home in Iowa,” a tour of KCWI studio in Ankeny and the opportunity to guest host in a Zoo Video segment. He received a $50 cash prize for winning the Just 4 Fun Category Award.

“In 5th grade, a group of animators came to our school and we made a stop motion video for them. Ever since then I have been interested in stop motion animation. This was my inspiration,” said Zumwalt. “I wasn’t expecting to win, and at first I was nervous about being the center of attention. The festival was very exciting!”

For his movie, “Blue and Green,” Arthur Behnke (Arthur Behnke Productions) of Scott County received 1st Runner Up. He was awarded a $300 cash prize.

For her movie, “The Dangers of Texting While Driving,” Sarah Braun (IDHT Productions) of Warren County, received 2nd Runner Up. She won a $100 cash prize. Braun’s film also took the coveted People’s Choice Award, receiving the most text-in votes from audience members during the festival.

The Educate Category Award went to Hunter Brehm (Fold-It-Up Productions) of Dubuque County for his movie, “Origami Ocean: Paper Creations that Won’t Wash Up in Water.” He received a $50 cash prize for winning the award.

The Inspire Category Award went to Joel Stephenson, Emma Stephenson, Victoria Litwiller and Matthew J. Litwiller (4 Kids and a Camera) or Hardin County for their movie, “Running the Race.” The team split their $50 cash prize.

Visit the YouTube playlist to view all the videos submitted for this year's festival.

About the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program

4-H is the youth program of America’s Cooperative Extension Service and is the nation’s largest youth development organization, serving more than 6 million young people across the United States with programs in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills.

One in five Iowa school-age youth participates in Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development programs, headquartered at the Iowa State University campus in Ames and available through ISU Extension and Outreach offices in all Iowa counties. 4-H is supported by federal, state and county funding, private grants and donations, and fees. For more information about joining 4-H, contact your ISU Extension county office at or visit