Colorado is no stranger to the big screen. Oscar-winning Westerns, popcorn flicks, and romantic comedies have all featured our state’s eclectic terrain as a backdrop. But few of those films have explored the real-life history behind their camera-ready sets.

To commemorate History Colorado’s Archaeology & Historic Preservation Month, student filmmakers are telling the rich history of some of the state’s most well-known sites. As part of a competition arranged by History Colorado, the Denver Film Society, and the Colorado Innovators of New Entertainment Media and Arts (CINEMA)—a lobbying and advocacy group that raises awareness for film production in Colorado—students ranging from sixth grade to grad school submitted proposals for two- to five-minute films that examine important historical landmarks in the Centennial State. From about 25 entries, the pool was narrowed down to 10 finalists, who were given the go-ahead to produce their proposed projects.

With reimbursements of up to $400—to cover expenses such as equipment rentals, crew, and editing—the budding auteurs set out for such notable sites as Bent’s Old Fort, Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, Cheesman Park, and the grave of Buffalo Bill. The 10 finalists include a mix of fiction and documentaries, but all participants were paired with an industry mentor from local organizations like Walk the Line Films and the Colorado Film & Video Association. A consultant from History Colorado advised each filmmaker on historical accuracy.

Vote: Watch the 10 finalists online by joining the competition’s Vimeo group (or head to History Colorado Center to view them in person), then vote for your favorite starting May 11. The creators of the film that gets the most vostes—as well as three chosen by a jury of local media production professionals—will each receive a $500 scholarship.

Know a budding filmmaker? CINEMA is already in the planning process for next year’s competition, and hopes to turn it into an annual event.

—Photo courtesy of the Young Filmmakers Workshop