Among other developments at his two-hour press conference this morning, Mayor Vince Gray announced a filmmaking contest sponsored by the District’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development and SnagFilms, the documentary website owned by Wizards and Capitals boss Ted Leonsis.
The contest, according to an MPTD press release, aims to award the best narrative and documentary features by District filmmakers with a distribution deal on SnagFilms, a free, ad-supported site with a library of more than 2,000 titles. Leonsis, who was not at the press conference, founded SnagFilms in 2008 with additional investments from AOL founder Steve Case and venture capital funds. SnagFilms also operates an on-demand channel on several cable systems and shares content via Facebook, YouTube, and other websites, though distribution on those platforms is not guaranteed for this competition.
“The talent that thrives in our city deserves the largest stage possible,” Gray said.
The full rules and submission guidelines for the SnagFilms contest are still forthcoming, though MPTD Director Crystal Palmer said that while District residency is a prerequisite, local production is not. That jibes with statements by SnagFilms chief executive Rick Allen, who mentioned National Geographic and Discovery Communications in naming local film companies and calling Washington a kind of “Hollywood with cherry trees.”
Palmer, who two and a half months back on the job is reintroducing herself to the local film community, said that requiring only local residency and not production to find the best D.C. films was a mutual decision by her office and SnagFilms. A goal, she said, is to “pull in as vast an array of talent to nuture and develop the [film] industry and infrastructure.
“I also understand we need to become an originator,” she added. “The purpose is to bring independent film to the forefront.”