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YouTube, HP Ask What Video Makers Want to Say

By Oct 08, 2007

HP is partnering with YouTube to sponsor a contest where one filmmaker will win a $5000 prize, a screening at an international film festival and a meeting with executives from Fox Searchlight Productions.

Project Direct, as the competition is known, is looking for films between two and seven minutes long and will run from Oct. 7 to Nov. 9. Twenty finalists will be chosen by a panel selected by YouTube and headed by director Jason Reitman, whose upcoming film “Juno” will be released by Fox Searchlight later this year. YouTube voters will then select the grand-prize winner from among those finalists.

Reitman, who directed the 2005 film “Thank You for Smoking”, also set three quirky content rules that aspiring directors must honor in their submissions. The films must feature a character facing “a situation above his or her maturity level,” Reitman says in a video on YouTube announcing the contest—much like the main character in “Juno” who deals with a teenage pregnancy. Second, one character in the film must pass a photograph to another.

Third, someone in the film must use the line, “I demand an explanation for these shenanigans. What do you have to say?” That question exactly mirrors the tagline of the campaign HP launched in September for its photo and imaging consumer equipment, using Gwen Stefani and other known celebrities.

Films that come close to winning but don’t make the 20-finalist cut will be showcased in a YouTube gallery starting Dec. 5.

YouTube has already run into some intense questioning about the geographical and language limitations of the competition, which is only open to legal residents of the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Italy, Spain and Brazil. All submissions must be in English or subtitled in English.

“While we wish we could include residents of all countries in Project Direct, many countries have different laws about running contests,” YouTube says in the competition’s FAQ page. “We weren’t able to devise a contest with rules that are fair and work the same for everyone around the world.”

YouTube advised ineligible directors to submit their short films for featuring on other areas of the site.

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