CHS freshman is winner in international video contest

Lily Forman

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — One of Lily Forman’s first forays into video production was a successful one — on May 8, it was announced that the Columbia High School freshman is a winner of the “World of 7 Billion” student video contest, helmed by Population Connection, a nonprofit organization that educates young people and advocates for population control. The organization, based in Washington, D.C., combed through 2,700 entries from 50 countries around the globe to find the winners, and Forman’s submission was chosen as one of the 18 best.

The video contest accepted entries from middle and high school students around the world, in three different categories: “Advancing Women and Girls,” “Feeding 10 Billion” and “Preventing Pollution.” Forman chose the first topic, creating her video, “Help Our Girls, Help Our World.”

“I did it about advancing women and girls and having access to education, especially in developing countries,” Forman told the News-Record in a phone interview on May 5. “It’s something that I’m really interested in, and I got to look at it from a different perspective.”

This was the second time Forman had entered the contest, the first being back in middle school. This time, she used a different technique to put the video together — stop-motion animation. The animation method shows an object frame by frame that, when viewed rapidly, creates the illusion of movement. In stop-motion animation, each movement seen must be drawn individually. According to Ben Allen, a fellow at Population Education, the animation was one of the reasons Forman’s video stood out.

“The presentation was a huge part of it,” Allen said in a phone interview with the News-Record on May 4. “She used a stop-motion technique that was impressive. We don’t get many like that. It’s a lot of frames and takes a lot of work, even for a short, 60-second video.”

Forman confirmed that the animation was a lot of work.

“It thought it would be different,” she said. “It definitely was time consuming. It was a lot of cutting things out and drawing.”

According to Allen, the winners are chosen after Population Connection evaluates the entries, and then sends the finalists to a panel of independent judges, who have expert knowledge of the video topics. Even though the technique is valued, Forman’s message was the other major reason she was chosen as a winner.

Forman’s film focuses on providing access to education for women and girls in developing countries as a way to help control the population.

“I wanted to talk about providing that access,” she said. “It can be hard for someone to spread that awareness and to know what the best way to do that is, because they have different resources than what I have here.”

Forman also said that, even though her video primarily focused on education for women and girls, the topic is not exclusive to them.

“I wanted to get across the point that access to education is something that everyone in the population will benefit from, regardless of what gender you are,” she said.

Allen said that Forman stuck to that point, which is why her video stood out to the panel of judges. Her video is on Population Education’s website at alongside the other winners, to promote the ideas that they all talk about.

“She made that point strong,” Allen said. “We need to support organizations that do this kind of work and promote what they get to do. We like to have the public be more aware.”

The fact that the contest is limited to young people is one of the reasons Allen thinks so many of the videos hit home for the viewers. It gives students a chance to explore a new topic, while allowing adults to see those topics from a new point of view. It’s also a more creative outlet than a standard school project might be.

“That’s one of the reasons we kept this contest going: to get a more global perspective. And people really respond to youth, and the youth movements are really important right now,” Allen said, adding that the students “can get into the issue and create something new on their own. Instead of writing a report, they can condense it in a new way.”

While Forman has limited video-production experience, she’s thinking she might explore the medium a bit more in the future.

“This is my first time doing something like this, except for when I did it in seventh grade,” she said. “It’s something that I would like to do going forward, now that I know that I can.”