newzealandA couple of days ago we told you about Fede Alvarez, a filmmaker from Uruguay whose YouTube film’s impressive direction and effects landed him a real life Hollywood development deal with Sam Raimi and Ghost Town Pictures.

Well, now you have a chance to be the next Fede Alvarez, if you’re so inclined.

Aspiring filmmakers of the online world take note:  Tourism New Zealand is teaming with the country’s most famous Hollywood export, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, for a contest that will give one unknown director a shot at stardom.

The contest is called Your Big Break, and kicks off in about six days (December 9, 2009 is the official start of the contest).  Contestants will have about a month or so to write and upload their own three minute short film script to the site, and five lucky finalists will be flown to New Zealand in January to film their scripts with the guidance of Academy Award winning producer Barrie Osborne.  They’ll be given a small crew, as well as full run of Jackson’s world-class post-production facility, Park Road.  One of the five finalists will be chosen by viewers who will be voting online for their favorite.

The screenplays need to focus on highlighting the spirit of “100% Pure New Zealand – The Youngest Country On Earth.”  From those five finished short films, one winner will be chosen by Peter Jackson himself and that filmmaker will get their big break.  What’s the big break, you ask?  Well, having your three minute short film air on US television.  That, claims the Your Big Break website, will make you famous.

So the prize may ultimately be less than a golden ticket to a life of Hollywood directing fame—in fact, it sounds about one step away from “help us make the next TV commercial for New Zealand tourism because we’re out of ideas”—but I don’t know any aspiring filmmakers who would be upset to have their short film chosen by Peter Jackson and aired on national television.  Don’t underestimate the number of people who will be interested in submitting a screenplay for this contest.

It’s kind of smart, actually.  Think about it.  Tourism New Zealand wants to leverage the power of user-generated content to help highlight their country, so they’ve combined their most famous celebrity (who is an unabashed promoter of all things New Zealand) with the public’s desire to be famous to create the contest.  They’ll undoubtedly get thousands of entries, and a great finished product that will have the perspective and inspiration of an undiscovered filmmaking talent.  They’re earning gobs of free publicity for the contest (and the country), and will ultimately spend far less than a traditional marketing campaign.

Kudos to Tourism New Zealand on a well-thought-out, well executed viral campaign that ties in video, Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and more.

You aspiring directors should get cracking on those three-minute screenplays—you might just be the next big thing.  You online marketers, take notice.  This contest may not be wholly innovative, but it’s a tried and true formula that is about as close to a guarantee as any viral campaign can hope for.

Here’s a video with Osborne talking about the contest and his own personal big break: