Male-skewing Internet media company Break Media will write $20,000 checks to eight finalists of digital short-film competish to produce their films, with grand-prize winner to receive development deal with New Regency Enterprises for potential feature-length pic.
Break Media, whose principal investor is Lionsgate, is soliciting scripts for sci-fi and VFX-driven 5- to 10-minute shorts through the "Prototype" contest, launched Thursday.
Siegel said Break Media will recoup $160,000 investment through advertising and sponsorships for the eight resulting short films, which will run on Break.com, company's network of sites and mobile apps, and YouTube.
Break Media is promising "total creative freedom" to filmmakers with no sponsorship strings attached. "We are not saying, 'You must have this product in your film,'" he said.
That said, Siegel said Break Media is not interested in comedy, animation or horror genres for the contest. "We want to get visually interesting films," he said.
One filmmaker of the eight will be awarded a production deal with the opportunity to develop their short into a feature-length film, produced by New Regency, studio whose pics include "Fight Club" and "The Internship."
"Digital platforms have proven to be a hub for exciting new intellectual property and talent," David Manpearl, senior VP of production for New Regency, said in a statement.
Deadline for submissions is Aug. 31. Execs at Break Media and New Regency will pick the eight shorts by mid-September with the ultimate winner announced in early 2014.
Siegel said the contest is part of Break Media's expansion into feature-length entertainment. Company is producing "Higher Power," a sci-fi thriller with a $500,000 budget co-produced with Lorenzo di Bonaventura ("Transformers," "GI Joe"). Pic, which commences production July 5, is helmed by VFX specialist Matt Santoro ("300," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine") and scripted by Julia Fair.
L.A.-based Break Media, founded in 2004, claims to reach more than 70 million unique visitors per month across its digital properties, including Break.com and MadeMan.com. Company touts 2 million YouTube subscribers for its channels and 4 million mobile app installs.
Watch Break Media's call for entries: