Facebook really wants to compete in online video and it’s pulling out all the stops to do it. The social network is teaming up with Lionsgate Entertainment and Twilight author Stephanie Meyer to create a series of new short films set in the Twilight universe. The films will run exclusively on Facebook’s online video platform. Even more exciting, the films will be the product of the Storytellers Initiative, a joint effort between Lionsgate and Facebook to identify and support women in film.
A contest is being held to select five up and coming female creators. Each will receive funding for their film as well as mentorship from some of the most successful women in entertainment. Kristen Stewart, Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer, “Frozen” writer Jennifer Lee, director Catherine Hardwicke, actress Julie Bowen and Women in Film President Cathy Schulman are already signed on to act as mentors and panelists to help pick the winners, as is Stephanie Meyer herself. Fans will also have a role in choosing the winning short from the five finalists. The ultimate winner will receive a cash prize as well as potential career opportunities and continuing mentorship.
The contest is Facebook’s latest push into creating online video content all its own. The social network has been developing its video services over the last year and has also reportedly been wooing YouTube creators with offers of more favorable ad revenue split and access to their huge user base as a potential audience. An LA based team including Shane Dawson producer Lauren Schnipper has also been meeting with MCNs to persuade them to move some of their content exclusively to Facebook. Creators like Dane Boedigheimer of the Annoying Orange and networks like Maker Studios appear to be taking the bait providing exclusive content to Facebook.
While there’s no immediate connection between the two initiatives it’s worth noting that Twilight is a subject near and dear to the hearts of a huge chunk of the YouTube fan community. Between luring YouTubers and staking out territory in the world of Edward Cullen, you could certainly say that Facebook is making a big play for the hearts and minds of the YouTube generation.