NBC Seeks Diversity for Short Cuts Film Fest

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Furthering its commitment to providing ongoing aid and opportunities to filmmakers of all cultures, Withoutabox, the market-leading network for independent filmmakers, has teamed up with NBC Universal’s Talent Diversity Initiative for the first annual Comedy Short Cuts Film Festival. NBC Universal tapped Withoutabox’s newly launched social networking platform AUDIENCE to help solicit top-quality submissions, and the AUDIENCE technology is being used to embed the films by the festival’s 12 semi-finalists into the contest’s official site, www.ComedyShortCutsNBC.com.

In particular, the company provided significant marketing outreach to its nearly 100,000 filmmaker members to raise awareness of the event and to offer the chance for aspiring producers/directors to easily submit their work for consideration by the Initiative’s judging committee, garnering more than 800 submissions in fewer than eight weeks. The semi-finalists’ films were judged by NBC Universal’s top development executives and the finalists will be unveiled shortly and screened at an event celebrating NBC Universal’s Diversity Initiative and the launch of www.DiverseCityNBC.com on September 20, 2006 at Cinespace in Los Angeles.

NBC chose AUDIENCE because this new platform provides filmmakers a national screening opportunity to show their work and to create a social network, thus establishing a de facto fan base for these emerging filmmakers. As with all of Withoutabox’s marketing and distribution tools, Audience is designed to empower filmmakers by allowing them to take control of their work and help creative projects achieve their full economic potential.

“NBC Universal’s Talent Diversity initiative perfectly reflects our company’s commitment to democratization in film distribution,” said David Straus, co-founder of Withoutabox. “This program provides a wonderful opportunity for talented filmmakers of all backgrounds to challenge themselves to create winning work that can positively affect their future careers – and allows them to begin building a lifelong fan base.”

Damona Resnick, NBC Universal’s Director of Talent Diversity Initiatives, said “our response from both the industry and the community has been incredible. We are looking forward to the LA screening and to opening doors for all 12 of these promising filmmakers. Out of the nearly 850 submissions we received they are truly the cream of the crop.”

NBC Universal’s Comedy Short Cuts is a unique showcase of short, comedic films involving a diverse cast, director, writer, producer or theme. Among the prizes to be awarded are a pitch meeting with NBC development executives as well as meetings with Rogue Pictures, Focus Features, and Universal Pictures. Additional prizes will be announced in coming weeks.

Eligibility rules state that submissions are comedic films no longer than 30 minutes that either address themes of racial, cultural or ethnic diversity or are produced with a diverse cast or production team

The semi-finalist films selected by NBC Universal from the hundreds of submissions are Soul Food (directed by Kenn Michael, Bryce Beckham and Derrick Vernon); Afterschool’d (directed by Peter Alton); Cuco Gomez – Gomez is Dead (directed by Francisco Lorite); Dragon of Love (directed by Doan La); Equal Opportunity (directed by Howard Duy Vu); Modern Day Arranged Marriage (directed by Rehana Mirza); A Ninja Pays Half My Rent(directed by Steven Tsuchida); Osama Bin Laden: Behind the Madness (directed by Ben Koldyke); The Pretty Boy Project (directed by Karl L. Reid, Jr.); Pria (directed by Theodore Bezaire); The Quest For Length (directed by Gene Rhee); and Virus (directed by Laura Hayes). The semi-finalist films’ Audience pages will be available for viewing at http://comedyshortcuts.withoutabox.com

Comedy Short Cuts Film Festival partners include NBC, Bravo, Sci Fi, Focus Features, Rogue Pictures, USA Network, Telemundo, Universal Pictures, Keldof Productions, Puma, Baseline Studio System, Avid, Final Draft, Entertainment Partners, the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and the Writers Guild of America, West(WGAw), as well as Withoutabox.

Comedy Short Cuts was created by New York Comedian Wil Sylvince who has appeared on BET’s Comic View, the syndicated The Apollo Comedy Hour, and HBO’s Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam. Sylvince currently tours with Damon Wayans and works alongside Wayans on the new Showtime series Damon Wayans’ The Underground.