• If you’re a STUDENT thinking of competing, please register first
  • TEACHERS & EDUCATORS thinking of helping students enter, register here

2. REVIEW our Rules, Judging Criteria & Video Requirements

  • Make sure you understand these Official Rules.  See Frequently Asked Questions here.
  • Be mindful of our Judging Criteria.
  • Review our Video Submission Checklist.
  • Plan ahead, as a typical 3-minute HD video submission is about 40-300 MB or more, and might take 20 mins+ on Vimeo.com to upload, excluding setting up your Vimeo account and completing the “video information” submission  form that goes with your video upload.

3.  Finding the Right Interview Subject 

  • Your interview can be done online or in-person…and your interview video footage can be recorded via internet video conference providers for free like Skype and Zoom.
  • This year, we ask you to interview a person or person(s) who are ONE of the following:

    • A current citizen or resident of mainland China* (PRC)   (Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are NOT mainland China)
    • A PRC expatriate who left mainland China within the last 8 years (2009-2017)
    • An American or any other persons currently working or studying in mainland China
    • An American or any other person who travels to mainland China regularly

    (Note: we may verify the interview subject’s residency status after submissions; email us at yvoc@1990institute.org if you have  eligibility questions)


  • Suggested ways to find the right interview subject:

    • See if any PRC Chinese are part of your school community — fellow students and their families, teachers, or administrators (or their extended family network), or sister school connections in China
    • Check with contacts at nearby universities and college campuses
    • See if any local businesses or organizations have employees from the PRC or employees who travel avidly to mainland China.
    • Reach out to any US-China organizations in your area or on the web
    • Ask your teacher, school administrator or family members for ideas — especially those ties and/or interests in China and Asia

4.  Your Interview Questions To Consider Asking + Tips

  • Your video goal is to capture a humane, insightful, and almost magnetic story — a story that exhibits the diversity of life in modern China.
  • To get good answers, you have to ask good questions that are designed to get the subject to *TELL A PERSONAL STORY” rather than an opinion, philosophy, or one- or two-word answers.
  • Make your subject is comfortable.  You as an interviewer should smile naturally, and be calm.
  • Perhaps start with a broad question and then start using your powers of intense curiosity to go deeper with your questioning and get your subject to *share a story*  via questions that might start with “tell me a time when you….” or “describe…”.
  • Here are three interview lessons from Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York, from the Open Eye Creative website and other articles.
    • #1: Get to the heart of it

      Human moments are captivating. Vulnerability and honesty stand out. Stanton could ask people, “What do you do for a living?” or “How’s your day going?” Instead, he asks deeper questions more like the below, plus great follow-up questions that go even deeper.

      • What are you most afraid of right now?
      • What’s the happiest moment of your life?
      • What’s the saddest moment of your life?
      • Tell me who is the most influential person in your life?
      • What is your greatest struggle right now?
      • If you could give one piece of advice to a large group, what would it be?
      • Tell me about…the moment you were most afraid
      • How has technology changed you and your family’s life?
      • (more *suggested*  interview questions follow further down on the page)

      lKey:  Ask for the facts when you need to, but more importantly, ask the questions that elicit emotion. The answers will be illuminating and enlighten your audience.

    • #2: Ask one question at a time

      Brandon Stanton’s questions are simple and direct, and he asks them without much explanation or context.

      This is harder than it sounds. As interviewers, we often think we need to provide a lot of lead-ins  to a question (and warm-up talk time) to help the interviewee open up. But in fact, you make your interviewees feel comfortable by giving them your full attention.

      “It’s not about what I say, it’s about the energy I’m giving off,” Stanton said when asked how he gets people to open up to him. “I’m genuinely interested in what the person has to say.”

    • #3: Seek out the unexpected

You may spend an hour with your subject and walk away with a small nugget of gold. That’s OK. That’s good. But your key is to edit well —  acting more like a curator than a reporter.

Your job, similarly, is to identify the most captivating interview answers. So what do you look for? One clue is a narrative that exceeds your expectations.

Your questions can help you get to this place (“What would people be surprised to know about x?”) but it may come up organically during the interview. When it does, take the time to dig deeper.


  • Want to learn more about Brandon’s powerful technique? 
    There are so many interviews and talks Brandon has given in which he’s explained how he approaches strangers, which can be found on Youtube.  One of the most amazing interviews he’s given yet is to fellow photographer, Chase Jarvis below — this is set to start at 57:20, the key part where Brandon demonstrates with a member of the audience how he approaches and talks to strangers and then discusses his technique. (the full interview is 90 minutes).

Here is another helpful video on his approach:


  • Here are more potential interview questions, inspired by Timothy Ferris:

    • What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love
    • What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift and why?  or what are 1-2 books that have greatly influenced your life?
    • In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
    • What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”  What advice should they ignore?
    • How has a failure or apparent failure, set you up for later success?  Or a “favorite failure” of yours?
    • What recent purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last 6 months (or in recent memory)?
    • If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say?
    • What is the one of the best or most worthwhile investments (time, money, or effort) you’ve ever made?
    • In the last 5 years, what have you become batter at saying no to?
    • What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
    • When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?


As we may have mentioned, a compelling personal story about life in modern China is what matters most to the judges — a video story that makes us smile, cheer, choke up, inspires us to take action, or simply enlightens us.  To do well in our contest, we also advise the following:

  • Address our contest theme – be sure your video clearly addresses our theme.
  • Include required interview questions 
  • Interview techniques & styles — here are some great tips:
  • Including the interviewer & questions in the video:
    • It’s up to you if you wish to include the interviewer (you or someone else) and interview questions in the video footage.  For example, in the Humans of New York Videos, Brandon Stanton edits himself and his questions out — see the video example below. However, on talk shows and other documentaries, the interviewer is a key part of the video.  Choose whatever is the most powerful format for your video.
  • Technical aspects:
    • Make sure your lighting is done well, and your audio is crisp and clear, minimizing distracting background noises.
    • If you include graphics or still images, make sure they are high resolution — no pixelation!
    • Transitions – make them as smooth as possible.
  • Video Title & Title Page – please avoid using generic video titles like “Youth Voices 2018,” as too many contestants in the past have named their video the same thing or similar.  Make your title catchy, clever or  stand out in some way; make it reflect your content a bit. As with Hollywood films, sometimes a great film name can make a big difference in audience appeal.
  • Creative Editing & Storytelling:  It’s up to you and your teammate if you want to the interviewer in the video or not.  Be creative with how you communicate your  Parodies, rap, animation, spoken word, comedic skits and other creative approaches are truly highly encouraged!
  • Simple and straightforward, first-person-narrative videos can be very powerful, too — check out 2015 Jury Prize Winner Brian Fuller’s video on “What China Means To Me.” which made many of the judges teary-eyed, and is one of Joan Chen’s favorite videos since the 2014 inception of our contest.

  • HAVE FUN!  Please don’t treat your video like a dry, academic exercise for class.
  • lTIP FOR MANDARIN-LANGUAGE VIDEOS:If you are submitting a video that is mostly in Mandarin — whether you’re a beginning Mandarin speaker or a native speaker, you must make sure you subtitle all your non-English portions — not all of our judges are fluent in Mandarin, AND your video will likely be viewed around the world (which many may not speak Chinese).
  • If you’re a beginning Mandarin speaker, keep in mind that you will do well if your video has a strong personal story, compelling point of view, and solid video production quality.




After pre-registering you (and your teammate, if any), your next steps as an ENTRANT will be:

  • STEP 2:  Organize your thoughts and recruit a team member (optional)  — others can help, but can only appear in the credits of your video
  • STEP 3.  Develop your idea, script and storyboard.
  • STEP 4:  Shoot & edit your video. Get royalty free music & other tips here.
  • STEP 5:  Register for Vimeo, upload your video there in HD (takes 30+ mins), well BEFORE the 11:59pm PST deadline.
  • STEP 6:  Complete our Youth Voices Submission Form  that goes with your video.

*All eligible entries must be uploaded & received by 11:59pm Pacific Time on February 28, 2018*