The Audience Awards’ Real Montana Competition featured in Inc.

February 3, 2015

Today, Inc. featured The Audience Awards and the Real Montana 1-minute video competition sponsored by The Montana Office of Tourism. Inc. notes that The Audience Awards caters to a knew type of filmmaking – one that opens the doors wide open for emerging filmmakers to get their feet wet and earn accolades and cash along the way.

Real Montana, sponsored by The Montana Office of Tourism seeks 1 minute videos in one of five categories: Food and Beverage; Artists, Events & Culture; Montana Places; Outdoor Adventure; and  Wildlife & Scenery. The competition will award $5000 to 1st -3rd place most voted films. The top two videos from each category will then compete in the finals round for $15,000. Anyone from around the world may submit their 1-minute videos about Montana and anyone 13 and older can vote. Users can vote once a day for as many films as they like. The competition is open for submissions until April 6, 2015. The first round of category voting runs April 7 – 21, 2015. The finals round of voting runs April 22 – 29, 2015. The videos will be used by the Office of Tourism on their YouTube channel, website and app. The Audience Awards plans to replicate the model for other states across the country. If you or your business, state or festival is interested in running your own user generated content competition, contact The Audience Awards at 406-532-5399.

MOT_AC&E_Comp MOT_F&B_Comp MOT_MTPlaces_Comp MOT_Outdoor_Comp MOT_Wildelife_Comp-1


Today, The Audience Awards premieres another UGC Competition – Art Montana. Filmmakers from around the state created 30 short films about Montana artists to compete for $8500. The film with the most votes wins $5000. The second most voted film wins $2500 and the third place most voted film wins $1000. The competition features all types of artists. From Jack Metcalf, to famed painter Monte Dollack to the Missoula based band the Wrinkles, the Art Montana short films is a great depiction of all that creative Montana has to offer. You can read more about Art Montana here and you can watch the beautiful Art Montana shorts here. 

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Now for the article released today by Inc. on the value of UGC and The Audience Awards:

How YouTube and UGC are Changing Hollywood’s Power Brokers

These days, depending on the demographic you’re shooting for, your company may value the endorsement of certain YouTube stars over that of a famous Hollywood star.

Variety did some market research recently that is more than just eye opening. The top influencers among 13-18 year olds were all YouTube phenoms. These video heroes outranked superstars such as Seth Rogan and Jennifer Lawrence. Who was their number one? Well it’s actually a comedy duo known as “Smosh.” Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla have several million Twitter followers and their sketch comedy routines regularly exceed six million YouTube views. This is no small feat, and the Hollywood power elite are taking note.

The number three most influential figure to this hotly pursued demographic isPewDiePie, a Swedish gamer who also has a tremendously large amount of subscribers. Felix Kjellberg plays videogames on camera while making a smorgasbord of inappropriate, politically incorrect commentary. While NSFW for most parents’ ears, his activities online are a mirror of exactly what my 15-year-old niece and nephew are up to in their rooms. Maybe that’s why he has over 36 million subscribers.

Writing New Rules for Fame

This new mob of online stars is changing the fame game. Their authenticity and approachable personas draw teens to them in droves. More importantly, the characteristics this new breed possesses carry serious weight when it comes to influencing buying decisions.

Hollywood is taking cues from the YouTube handbook. New shows being produced for online consumption by Disney owned Maker Studios, AOL, Yahoo and every legacy studio you can think of, encourage quirky individualism. The goal is to appeal to a young demographic. This change in tone and style is not the only way this new breed of Internet titans is shaking things up.

User-Generated Content Rises in Importance

Once upon a time, content producers and consumers in general might have cringed at the idea of spotlighting user-generated content (UGC), but that’s all changed. UGC has improved in quality over time and contests including it have become a very viable way for emerging talent to get noticed (and for web sites to become profitable).Starbucks and GoPro are just some of the brands that have leveraged this type of content to keep customers interested and engaged.

As an example, one company, “The Audience Awards” is a social network connecting filmmakers, directors and audiences–and UGC is at the heart of its model. Sponsors host competitions with specific content requirements. Users create the content sought, such as this recent campaign requiring content about Montana. The online audience votes on the projects posted. The film with the most votes wins and cash prizes go to the top films. The company is expecting to give over $60,000 to winners in the next six months.

Contests such as this (which can be crowdfunded right on the website) open up the previously closed gates of Hollywood to new creative talent. Even mega-agencies likeCAA are jumping with both feet into the process of deal making for web content. They represent several classic YouTube names, and about 25 percent of talent agent David Freeman works with comes directly from the digital arena. A key factor in working with any talent is the ability to effectively communicate a story, and Freeman says it’s not only YouTube upstarts who are vying for our viewing time. Established stars like Tom Hanks and Sarah Jessica Parker are now bringing projects to the digital space.

A New Frontier

Bringing brands and content together is one of the new frontiers that talent agencies are getting involved with. Original and user-generated content is where a lot of the hottest action and competition for dollars is happening. “A big part of the growth for our business is on the advertisers’ side,” Freeman said. “We wanted to take some time out and take advantage of the relationships we have.” His says his intent is to show Madison Avenue that the digital space has viable content solutions.

Brands are very important for emerging content creators. They are the ones who have long subsidized traditional TV and radio programming, for instance. It’s not that surprising that they now are making success more accessible for small-time folks who don’t have big professional networks or distribution. Some brands are even building their own content that draws directly from such real-life stories. For example, Xbox is creating a new soccer series that features some of the world’s “fiercest street soccer warriors.”

The future for user-generated programming is wide open, with talent development in a kind-of wild-west phase. Voices outside the traditional Hollywood system are getting heard, and up and coming creative talent has perhaps more opportunity than at any time in the history of entertainment. Some stars of YouTube and other platforms will resonate with viewers across screens, and others will only do so in their niche universes. Overall it’s a win.

 The original Inc. article can be found here:

The Audience Awards is film’s social network connecting audiences to films, filmmakers and film festivals. The Audience Awards hosts short film competitions where the audience chooses the best films.


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