A few weeks after launching picSeeder, a global, online pitching competition designed to enable aspiring filmmakers to fund short films, Bill Bennett realised two factors were discouraging potential entrants. So he's changed the rules to make the contest more accessible.
Firstly, Bennett has agreed to forego the opportunity for him and his picSeeder team to take a share of the profits that the winning short accrues if it is spun off into a feature film or other format. Secondly, the website now accepts entries that are lodged anonymously.
“The feedback we were getting indicated some people were shy about putting their work up on the site,” he tells SBS Film. Entrants still have to provide their contact details but these won't appear on the site.
The inaugural edition will reward the winner with a cash prize of up to $50,000, funded from the $28 entry fee. Contestants are asked to submit a 1-minute video. Members of the site will get to vote on their favourite pitch. Those who submit the 12 most popular pitches will then be asked to provide a 3-minute video.
From the shortlist the winner will be determined by an international jury comprising US sales agent Robbie Little, French financier/producer Jean-Charles Levy, Stephen Gates, New York-based head of the literary department at talent management company Evolution Entertainment, actress Michelle Ang and Indian producer Udayan Baijal.
Bennett (pictured), whose credits include Backlash, Spider & Rose, Kiss or Kill and The Nugget, developed the concept with his wife, producer Jennifer Cluff. He says the take-up of entries has been slower than he expected but hopes the pace will pick up with the elimination of the organiser's profit share and the option to remain anonymous.
Entries close May 4. The shortlist will be announced on May 18 and the winner declared on June 15.
Explaining the decision to forego a 30% share of any profits, he said, “Some people told us that if their short film led to a feature that became a hit and we took a cut, that was a disincentive to submitting a pitch. They also felt it could be a disincentive to a financier taking on their project down the track. So we decided to give up our profit share.
“PicSeeder is about launching careers and discovering new talent. We're still feeling our way and responding to feedback.”
The organisers still stand to make money if more than $50,000 is generated through entry fees, after covering operating costs. Next week he intends to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise $5,000 to fund a mobile application for picSeeder.