Sony Launches a Fame Factory for Filmmakers

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When it comes to videos of people dumping Mentos in diet Coke, getting hurt doing stupid stunts and blabbing away about their lives in front of a Web cam, you just can’t touch YouTube. That’s the conclusion Sony has reached for its own user-created video site, Grouper, which it will now revamp to work with a different formula in order to set it apart from competitors.

Under the new name Crackle, Sony will turn to aspiring filmmakers to provide the content, hopefully raising the bar on the quality of the site’s offerings and giving rising talent a legitimate venue to show off their chops. Sony calls it a “fame partnership”: Young directors supply the talent, Sony will supply the means to make it big.

In some cases, that will mean money. Crackle’s most promising contributors will receive cash from Sony as a way to finance their films and reward the very best. There will even be trips to Los Angeles for select contributors every quarter, giving them a chance to meet Sony execs and pitch film ideas. The ultimate goal is a kind of wading pool for amateurs to get their start, with Sony picking the very best and moving them on to deeper water.

Crackle’s transition to the new format won’t completely eliminate user-uploaded video. Sony plans to keep the option open, but also hopes the focus on serious projects will inspire users to keep their creations in the same vein.