Earlier this week, Wong Fu Productions, Far East Movement, and International Secret Agents (ISA) announced the launch of the inaugural ISA Digital Film Shootout, a contest seeking to find and support digital talent.
ISA, which was founded by Wong Fu Productions — who made their name as content creators on YouTube — and musical group Far East Movement, describes itself as “the premiere platform for celebrating Asian Youth Culture, which aims to showcase the brightest and most talented rising artists of this Internet Generation to a diverse, international audience.”
Dan Matthews, ISA director of productions and content development, told NBC News that the concept of a digital film contest has been in the works for a while. “The idea has actually been with us for the last two or three years,” he said. “It’s something we’ve all been really passionate about. We’ve been trying to find ways to support the next generation of creators in our community.”
Because the Shootout is geared specifically for digital content, it is accepting submissions in categories that work best through a digital platform. The five categories are short documentary, short comedy, short drama, music video, and "vlogger/personality."
Matthews said that the last category is something particular to web-based content. "It was important to include this category because it speaks highly for people on the web, for people who are creating more personality-driven things," he said. "A lot of it just comes down to the personality of the creator, and by having a specific category for it, we’re really hoping to open it up. We wanted to make sure we had a category to elevate that."
The Shootout is accepting submissions until May 9, after which they will be judged by an internal committee. Judges include "Fresh Off The Boat" actor Randall Park, actress and musician Nora "Awkwafina" Lum, and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas. (Editor's Note: NBC Asian America managing editor Traci Lee will serve as one of the judges for the short documentary category.)
“The judges were people that we had known from building within the community past the years," Matthews, said. "We wanted to have a broad spectrum of judges. It's important to us that we didn’t just have YouTube personalities judge the categories."
Winners in each category will receive prizes specific to each of their genres, as well as the opportunity to be flown out to Los Angeles for a “special live film event.”
“We know there are a lot of people creating content just for digital right now, creating content specifically for distribution on the web,” Matthews said. “We know that that content created for the web is different for content created on traditional filmmakers. [These are] things that aren’t formatted for more traditional platforms.”