‘Sac Bee’ To Readers: Show Us Your Shorts

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By: Jennifer Saba

The surge in popularity of YouTube has not gone unnoticed by the folks at The Sacramento Bee.

No, parent company McClatchy didn’t purchase the online site where anyone and their dog can post videos. Instead, the paper has launched a contest titled “Show Us Your Shorts.” (Shorts as in films, not boxers.)

Since the end of September, the Bee has been calling for readers to send in films no longer than four minutes. The kicker: Either the newspaper or its Web site is required to make a guest appearance.

John O’Neill, the Bee’s marketing manager, stressed the paper is not looking for commercials: “That is the last thing we want. Hopefully, people will look at our brand in a new light.”

The contest is open to all Californians, since the Bee is a regional paper. All entries will be available for public viewing from Nov. 6 through Nov. 22. A panel of judges including the Bee’s film critic Carla Meyer, will narrow down the field to five shorts based on “creativity, quality, and overall movie idea, not by how much exposure the Bee has in the film,” according to a release.

The public then votes on their favorite film from Dec. 1 through Dec. 13. The short with the highest score will receive the first-place prize, $1,000. Two runners-up will receive $250 each.

Sacramento has a fairly active film community, O’Neill explained, so the Bee partnered with the local film festival where the concept was introduced. To keep the message alive, the Bee went to MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/sacticket) to promote the content. As of the beginning of October, the Bee has 3,712 “friends.”

There is no entry fee to participate and so far, 83 people have registered to submit entries. If at least 50 people submit films, O’Neill said it would be considered a success.

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