YouTube continues to rub shoulders with Hollywood’s finest in latest content push
YouTube’s drive to be known for ‘highbrow’ content, continues as it announces its ‘Your Film Festival’ semi-finalists – a far cry from the laughing babies and skateboarding dogs the platform has become synonymous with over the years.
It has selected 50 short films from a pile of 15,000 submitted, and is inviting the YouTube community to vote for the best ones.
The 10 film-maker finalists will go to Venice International Film Festival and a jury comprising of director Ridley Scott and actor Michael Fassbender will watch a screening of their film.
The overall winner will win a $500,000 production grant to work with Scott Free on original content for the platform.
This is not the first time the seven year old platform has worked with Scott on a film project. Last year’s ‘A Life in a Day’ feature length documentary, made of a kaleidoscope of user generated clips, was produced by him.
The decision to work with Scott, as well as launch the film at Sundance, in a similar way to holding ‘Your Film Festival’ at Venice Film festival this year, sends clear signal that YouTube wants to be taken seriously and is no longer just about clips of cats and dogs which can say ‘hello’.
This year’s entries come from around the world including several from the UK such as ‘Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul. It is a moving short film that follows the lives of two young skateboarders from Afghanistan who attend the Skateistan charity project (see below).
In a recent profile interview I did with Anna Bateson, marketing director for YouTube EMEA, for Marketing magazine (to go online in the next few days) she revealed that ‘changing perceptions’ about the breadth of YouTube’s content offering is one of her biggest challenges.
Not that the brand wants to disconnect itself with user generated and ‘lowbrow’ content that has become synonymous with the site, but it needs to convince advertisers that it houses other types of content, whether it be from professional content producers or movie studios.
An prime example would be the recent Kony film, professionally made, which so far has amassed nearly 90m views since March.
As Google looks to ramp up the commercialisation of the platform it bought for $1.65bn six years ago, and monetise the 180 days worth of content uploaded to the site every minute, we can expect more highbrow ventures such as these, as it turns up the marketing dial.