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It’s a pretty good time to be an amateur filmmaker. Two more entertainment industry heavyweights — producer Deepak Nayar, of Bend it Like Beckham and Buena Vista Social Club fame, and former FOX Television chair Sandy Grushow — want to snag you early in your career, and they’re offering to fund your feature films, documentaries, web series and digital marketing campaigns. They are running their company, Filmaka, as a series of contests. The winner of the first feature competition, who will be chosen next week, will get his or her entry made into a multimillion-dollar, full-length film.
The company (whose name is pronounced like “filmmaker” with a soft ending) has been in the works for more than a year and has already attracted 3,600 aspiring filmmakers from around the world. According to a spokesperson, Filmaka has funding from advertising companies, film financiers and individual private investors, including Tim Levy of Britain’s Future Capital Partners, ad agency founder Tim Delaney, and Kurt Woolner and Steve Ranshoff of Film Finances Inc.
With so many different contests and projects, it’s hard to parse Filmaka’s various incentives. However, according to Variety, the company has paid $700 to $4,000 per episode for the web series it has already commissioned. It promises “in the range of $2 million to $3 million” for the winner of the feature film contest and says winners and runner-ups will get $500 to make another film. The site is also offering a $40,000 bounty for producing a winning pilot for an FX series. And Filmaka has a partnership with the William Morris talent agency for representing its finalists. The feature competition, unlike others currently running on the site, costs $10 to enter.
Filmaka has a star-studded jury of Wim Wenders, Paul Schrader, Bill Pullman, Zak Penn, Nayar, John Madden, Neil LaBute, Kenneth Lemberger, Dr. Herbert Kloiber, Werner Herzog, Colin Firth, Tim Delaney, Laura Bickford and Thomas Augsberger.
I found the finalist above, The Secret Life of Amanda Jones, by a Canadian named Terry Miles, on the company’s website. Filmaka’s own embed code didn’t work — indeed, the site’s design and functionality is lacking — but luckily it also has a YouTube channel. Miles received this juror comment from Nayar:
Entertaining and contemporary take on the vampire genre. Good sense of character and pacing. This has potential as a series idea. All the best, Deepak.