After about a year and a half in beta, digital entertainment studio Filmaka finally leaves beta Monday. The studio, headed by Sandy Grushow, former chairman of Fox Television Entertainment Group, (American Idol) and producer Deepak Nayar (Bend It Like Beckham, Buena Vista Social Club), already has 40 web-based series that it plans to run on dedicated channels on YouTube, Vuze and on UK-based video site Play TV.
The launch comes a week before the winner of Filmaka's feature film contest is announced on April 28. A panel of judges including the likes of David Lynch, Werner Herzog, Paul Schrader, Wim Wenders, Colin Firth, Neil LaBute, Zak Penn and Bill Pullman will decide which of the 42 finalists will get funding from Filmaka to create a work for theatrical release. The company, which is represented by the William Morris Agency, is using the online contest gimmick widely: a sitcom competition with cable channel FX awards the winner $40,000 to shoot a 15- to 20-minute pilot for FX, which Filmaka will executive produce.; a branded-entertainment competition series with SABMiller, which was the site's first partner; and an international documentary competition. Release
USAT: Aside from the competitions, aspiring digital directors can pay a $10 entry fee to submit their productions, which are usually five minutes or less, that could appear on Filmaka.com and its affiliated sites. While Filmaka hopes to make money from ad sharing deals with its syndication partners, the company is mainly pinning its hopes on the prospect of producing a hit movie or TV show.
-- Reuters: Filmaka is aiming for global reach and is developing a local language site for India; it might create a similar site for Japan as well.
By David Kaplan