FAQs – #YODOContest

You Only Die Once: #YODOContest is a short film contest that calls on filmmakers and storytellers to focus on death as a part of living. We want you to use your artistic expression to create a film of 3 minutes (excluding credits) in length that explores and educates others about the personal journeys through death, dying and bereavement in an authentically unique way that has a positive influence on the community.

Film proposals will officially open on Monday, Sept. 18, and will be accepted until Wednesday, Nov. 8th. Selected filmmakers will be contacted by Nov. 17, 2023, with final films due Feb. 29, 2024.

The winning films will be announced on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 and will be screened at the Grand River Film Festival in May 2024.


Are there specific criteria?

We are looking for films that tell a story — your own story or someone else’s story. It should engage and educate the audience, and encourage discussion about the journeys of grief through death, dying and bereavement in a personally unique way that has a positive influence on the community.

This contest is open to all styles of filmmaking, including animation and documentaries.

Who is eligible to enter the contest?

This film competition is open to amateur and professional filmmakers and storytellers, aged 20 years and older, that currently reside within the Region of Waterloo.

How can I submit my film proposal?

​Film proposals will be accepted until Oct. 17, 2022 at 11:59 p.m.

In the proposal form, we will be looking for a theme/focus, and a short synopsis of the story you plan to tell.

All submissions will be reviewed by a panel of community stakeholders. Each submission will be judged on its alignment with HWR’s vision of supporting people to live until they die. More specifically, the films’ originality, creativity and ability to inspire conversation through a story focusing on journeys of grief through death, dying and bereavement in this community.

After a submission is approved (Nov 7/22) the filmmaker will receive a copy of the matrix that will be used to determine the #YODOContest winning films to better guide them through their filmmaking process.

Please note: It is the intent of Hospice of Waterloo Region to use these short films for community outreach, education, and marketing purposes. 

How many times can I enter?

You are welcome to submit as many proposals as you would like. However, if successful, we would select one (1) of your proposals for a final film submission.

What are the technical requirements?
  • Limit one film per submission.
  • The length of your film must be no more than a maximum of 5 minutes (excluding credits).
  • It can be filmed in vertical or horizontal orientation.
  • No pixel quality lower than 1080P (1920×1080 px; also known as the Full HD or FHD, 2K, and 709).
  • Your film must be completely original work. All music, images, or sounds must be property cited and referenced in final credits of the film. You will be permitted to include some stock photos/images; however 60% of photos and images must be original.  
  • While you can use stock photography and videos in your film, we encourage you to aim for at least 60% of original content.
  • Your film must tell a story, real or imagined, defined as a “a spoken or written account of connected events, a story”. Documentary style will be accepted.
  • You must include an acknowledgement to Hospice Waterloo Region and You Only Die Once: #YODOContest 2024 contest in the credits at the end of your short film.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent agreeing to the following:
    • The use of photos and interviews as part of our contest promotion .
    • HWR to have exclusive use of your submitted film, for a period of one year,  in the work of palliative care engagement and education in Waterloo Region.
    • That the  film submitted by you may be used by HWR  for advertising, marketing, and /or educational purposes in any relevant programming in perpetuity.
    • YouTube:
      • If your film is chosen as a winner, you agree to not upload your film to YouTube or share publicly on any social media platforms or otherwise; the screening at GRFF will serve as the premiere.
      • Following the Grand River Film Festival, the winning films will be uploaded to HWR’s YouTube account so that we may share the films in advertising, marketing and/or in educational settings. Should the winning filmmakers wish to upload the film to their own YouTube channel, we ask that they provide us with a version of the film for our upload that includes an HWR logo watermark so as to avoid YouTube copyright issues.
  • By submitting your film to the YODO contest you are also agreeing
    • To engage with HWR throughout the filmmaking process by participating in short interviews to showcase your story and the inspirations behind the film. You agree that these interviews  may be shared  with the public through HWR social media platforms as part of our contest promotion .  Winners will also be asked to participate in the annual GRFF podcast to talk about their fimmaking journey and their YODO submission.
    • Winning films will have their debut screening at the GRFF in May 2024. Filmmakers are welcome to submit their films to other film festivals, however these screenings will come after their GRFF debut.
How will you choose the winners?

As we did in year one, a small panel of Waterloo Region community members will be created to review the initial and final submissions.

Initial submissions will be reviewed to ensure they meet our criteria and will be provided with feedback and encouragement before moving on to the film creation phase. 

Final submission, received in February, will be independently reviewed and assigned a score using a matrix of key criteria. Once scores have been assigned, our panel will convene to discuss and choose our final winners using a matrix of key criteria. The matrix will have been shared with all approved submissions as they moved into the film creation phase in November.    

There is a prize of $650 for 1st place and $350 for 2nd place. The winners will be announced by Hospice Waterloo Region on March 27, 2023 and will be showcased as part of the Grand River Film Festival. As part of the festival promotion, winners will received two free admission tickets to the festival. They will also be highlighted and invited to participate in the GRFF podcast and any other events leading up to the festival. 

How qualified are the judges?

The #YODOContest panel of judges represent our broad community, and bring a breadth of expertise to the table. Some of the judges will have specific knowledge around the topic of death, dying, and bereavement. Judges will also include representatives from both HWR and the GRFF, as well as volunteers from our local arts community who bring the knowledge and expertise to speak to the creativity and quality of film production.

How will my film be used?

The video submissions that are chosen as winners for this film competition will be used by Hospice Waterloo Region for marketing and promotion. The video may also be used in community presentations and activities to educate and engage the community in conversations about death, dying and bereavement.

It is the intent of Hospice of Waterloo Region to use these short films for community outreach, education, and marketing purposes.

Why are you planning to interview filmmakers?

We want to hear from filmmakers throughout the filmmaking process by engaging each participant in a short interview to showcase their story and inspiration behind your short film!

Hospice of Waterloo Region and GRFF will be sharing these interviews with the public through our social media platforms to bring awareness and engage in the community in the process!

If there is a specific reason you do not wish to participate in this aspect, please contact Alexandra Allen, the Community Relations Manager, at Hospice of Waterloo Region: aallen@hospicewaterloo.ca.

Who won last year's contest?

The winners of the 2022 #YODOContest include:

  • 1st Prize: Mark Ramitt — A.I.: Altruistic Individuals
  • 2nd Prize: Amanda Sevigny — My Roommate, The Grim Reaper
  • Honourable Mention: Brayden Morin — Our Time With Him

Watch the films!

What are some resources about death and dying?

The Hospice of Waterloo Region website provides resources for individuals who are sick as well as supports for caregivers with links for legacy work, library resources and education and training activities.

The Dougy Center provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults and their families grieving a death can share their experiences.

MyGrief.ca can help and assist people who are grieving to understand and walk through their grief.

Grief.com is a resource for people who are grieving as well as hoping to help individuals through their grief. Resources about what to say to friends and family and even coworkers.

Center for Loss & Life Transition is a site run by an death educator, they strive to help people who are grieving and those who care for them by providing resources, from training, workshops and literature.

When it comes to palliative care, the health care system is only part of the equation. Compassionate Communities respond to local community needs and empower individuals to provide important physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and practical support to patients, families, and caregivers.

Compassionate Ottawa strives to support the approach that citizens are inherently compassionate and already motivated to reach out to help their family, friends, neighbours and others they care about when faced with death, dying, loss and grief. The goal is to support and empower individuals in expanding their efforts.

Professor Allan Kellehear launches Compassionate Communities in Bunbury WA. For review, please watch his video.

Reimagine sparks community-driven festivals and conversations that explore death and cele

What are some filmmaking resources?

The Commons Studio, one of The Working Centre’s Community Tools projects, encourages community filmmaking through the sharing of skills, knowledge, equipment & resources.

Ed Video was initiated by four graduates of the University of Guelph Fine Arts program. They felt the need, as professional artists, for a community video resource centre. They aimed to provide access to equipment, as well as a catalyst for creative activity in the community.

Additional information about definitions

As we often use many different terms about death, dying and bereavement, please review these terms on death, dying, and bereavement to assist you:

Anticipatory grief: When anticipating the death of a loved one,  we begin the process of grieving long before death arrives.  

For the person who is dying, grief begins the moment they learn of their end of life.  They begin to experience the profound loss of relationships, their future plans and will miss all the things they had intended to experience. 

As a caregiver, family member or friend of a loved one who is dying, the anticipation of death can be great, and can create many mixed emotions, as the death of a loved one also means a loss of the relationship as well as the loss or ending of the future as they expected it to be. 

Anticipatory grief before end-of-life has many of the same characteristics as those experienced after death, it can include anxiety, depression, extreme concern for the dying person, preparing for the death, and adjusting to changes caused by death.

Grief: A natural, internal experience response to loss or change of any kind including death. Grief may be experienced as a mental, physical, social, or emotional reaction and will vary in intensity. All of these types of loss bring with it the journey of grief. There is no one way to experience grief, it will look different for every person.

Mourning: Mourning is the external response to grief. There is no one way to “do mourning” – it is often driven by our societal and cultural expectations and experiences of death and loss.

Bereavement: Bereavement is the journey of your grief and begins from the moment that you experience the loss. 

Death Positive: The movement seeks to eliminate the silence around death-related topics, decrease anxiety surrounding death, and encourages more diversity in end of life care options available to the public.

What if I have additional questions?

You are welcome to email Alexandra Allen, the Community Relations Manager at Hospice Waterloo Region: aallen@hospicewaterloo.ca.

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