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Want to break into movies? Check out the Prototype short film competition

protoHow do you make it as an independent, budding filmmaker? Sure, you can put your work online so that a wider audience will have access to it. And sure, you can hope that maybe someone out there in Internet land will pass the link on to the right person so that you’ll be discovered by a big shot Hollywood producer, and finally get your big break. That, however, has always been a bit of a long shot, to put it mildly… which is why the new Prototype program, which seeks to offer eight filmmakers not only a chance to be seen by movie executives, but also the funding necessary to wow them, is such a big deal.

Prototype is a project born out of a partnership between New Regency Productions – the studio behind the recent Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson movie, The Internship, amongst many others – and digital video publisher Break Media. The two companies will select eight filmmakers, and each will receive $20,000 to make a short movie as an audition piece for a movie deal. Ideally, the short film would be developed into a full-length feature. Each of the shorts will be made available online, via Break Media’s Web and mobile platforms, as well as on YouTube.

Senior vice president of production for New Regency, David Manpearl, said the Internet and related digital platforms have “proven to be a hub for exciting new intellectual property and talent.”

Each of the eight finalists will be asked to generate a short movie based on specific, blockbuster-friendly genres. The program’s official site suggests that the competition is “targeted to sci-fi, action, and effects-driven filmmakers.” The films will be shared online beginning at the end of 2013, before the winner is finally announced early next year.

“Prototype is a way to discover and cultivate talent by providing them with the financing, distribution, and access to the entertainment industry that they wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Greg Siegel, Break Media’s SVP of Entertainment Development. It’s also a potentially hefty investment for an output that is only guaranteed to go as far as a development deal; the funds allocated to the filmmakers alone will total $160,000, never mind other program costs.

That said, as a branding exercise for both companies, it could be worth that amount alone. And if the winner happens to come up with a particularly good idea that could win over audiences, then it’ll definitely turn out to be money well spent. We’ll have an idea of whether or not the project works out when the eight finalists are announced this fall. Stay tuned.