YouTube officially opened up submissions Thursday for its "Your Film Festival," an online showcase that will ultimately send 10 finalists to the Venice Film Festival.
Those interested in Your Film Festival, sponsored by Emirates airlines, can submit a short, "story-driven" video up to 15 minutes length until March 31 to the YouTube Channel youtube.com/yourfilmfestival.
"Through this program, YouTube will give filmmakers the opportunity to reach a vast audience, screen their work during the Venice Film Festival and potentially be rewarded in a career-changing way," Robert Kyncl, global head of content at YouTube, said in a statement.
The Google Inc.-owned video site announced the project Jan. 19, saying they'd teamed up with Ridley Scott and his Scott Free London to create the festival, calling it "a global competition that will provide one deserving entrant with half million US dollars to work on their next great story."
Entry is free and open to all genres of videos including live-action shorts, animation, documentaries, Web-series episodes, or TV pilots.
Fifty semi-finalists will be selected by Scott Free Productions, Ridley and Tony Scott's production company. They will then appear on a YouTube channel where users can view them and vote for their favorites.
Of those, the 10 finalists will be flown to the 69th annual Venice Film Festival in August where their films will be screened. Ridley Scott is in charge of the jury that selects the winner.
"From the very first film that I made that cost 65 pounds to the last film I made that cost millions things are always difficult," Scott said. "When you are making a movie and you've got very little money that's a good thing. It forces you to plan and it forces you to make decisions. Whatever moment in time, everything seems monumental."
This is not the first time Scott has teamed up with YouTube for a film project. Last year, he and Kevin MacDonald worked together on the YouTube crowdsourced documentary, "Life in a Day," which offered a candid snapshot of a single day on planet Earth by compiling over 80,000 YouTube submissions by contributors in 192 countries.
YouTube has held film festivals in the past, but Your Film Festival is by far the largest in scale. The company hopes to collect high-quality programing that will make the platform more appealing for longer viewing visits and the advertising money that could bring in.
Though the competition is open to anyone, Your Film Festival is primarily a search for budding filmmakers and producers. YouTube did outreach at Sundance Film Festival and will also make its presence felt at South by Southwest (SXSW) to spur filmmakers to participate.
"There are great voices out there developing stories which deserve to be seen," YouTube said in its promotional video. "This time the world will see them."