ZoomTilt, which I wrote about a while back, is in the business of finding talented filmmakers who have got financially sustainable web series they want to make. In order for them to be financially sustainable, they need to appeal to brands who will sponsor them and to audiences who will help generate revenue to offset production costs. Now, ZoomTilt has announced the five finalists in its TV Reset contest.

As I said in the previous article, ZoomTilt has found an interesting niche for themselves. Having a team full of professionals experienced in video production they have some background in what makes good video entertainment. They’re now taking that expertise and using it to hook brands up with video creators. I still believe that it’s an excellent position to be in as branded content and content marketing continue to become major online marketing tools.

But, Chris, why are you telling us about them whittling down a long list of pitches to a final five? Oh, believe me, I do have ulterior motives on that front. You might recall that I entered the contest with my own show Not So Super… and that I hit the semi-finals. Well, now, I’ve hit the finals!

I will list all of the finalists in the same order as they were in the press release I received today, at the end of the article. First, I want to talk about why I think ZoomTilt is on the right track and why I even pitched my show to them in the first place.

Branded Content Done Right?

Some people hear ‘branded content’ and think that the content will be slathered in logos and product and the like. But that’s not always the case. ZoomTilt has a show running now called Dead Trigger. It’s an action drama that follows two agents as they attempt to save New York from a devastating bomb. Again, I used this as the example in the first article and I still believe they’ve really got the right idea on how to brand content and wanted to share it again. Check out an episode below.

The thing about the way the branding was done was that it was pretty organic. The products show up in the episode but you never know it until the credits roll and you see the shirts worn are from Ministry of Supply and there’s a discount code in there to drive some conversions as well.

It’s brilliant. Viewers who are seeking entertainment know that there are going to be some advertisements placed against it usually. The fact that this type of branding is so unobtrusive is extremely appealing to me and probably would be to many others as well. No interruption of the show to try and sell us something, no overt, wait for the show to start as these ads play. Sure, there are pre-roll ads on the episodes posted on YouTube, but with good enough content and a perfectly matched branding there might not need to be. It depends on the product, the content and the brand’s goal for the campaign (brand awareness uplift vs. conversions, etc).

A Leg Up for Filmmaking Newbs and Experienced Alike

Hi, my name is Chris and I’m a filmmaking newb. I have never had any major video production. I’ve done some interviews and some video game reviews and other minor things. But I haven’t ever shot any kind of major project. I’ve been something of a bystander these past five years while I’ve been an online video journalist and analyst. Some might say that means I don’t know what I’m talking about while others might say it gives me a fresh perspective. Either way, I’m now on the road to do my first major video production. I already know, through the previous steps of the contest, that my content is viable as a web series and if done right should attract a good audience. I also know that it should fit into some branded content marketing campaigns, which means that I might soon have money to shoot the full season one. It’s a lot of if statements right now which depend on how good my pilot is and how well it does. I’m already guaranteed some production money for the pilot and I get a mentor to help me along the way. Two invaluable pieces of the puzzle.

But more than anything, it’s motivation. It’s motivation to shoot the pilot and make it the best it can be. It’s motivation because I know that if we get it right, we might be speeding toward full-blown production in 2013 and it means that the series I’ve been pondering, writing, tweaking, dreaming about for the past five years, could become a reality. I believe that no matter if you’ve done it all before or not, that’s the most motivation anyone could ever ask for… Sure, the production money helps too, I won’t lie. But just going through the contest rounds, somewhere between the semi-finals and finding out I made the finals, I was already 100% dedicated to making the pilot, money or not, I am doing it. Now, I’ve got a team assembled of people who are far smarter than I am in most video production aspects, I’ve got actors cast for half the roles, I’ve got a guiding hand from ZoomTilt and I’ve got some cost offset guaranteed. When the pilot’s done I’ve got a goal as well, market and pump the pilot through my social media network even as ZoomTilt does the same. All because they believe in me and my series and believe that it can be monetized. Like I said, it’s all about the motivation.

The TV Reset Final Five

As I said at the top of the article, I’m going to reproduce their list of finalists. I won’t lie, I’m pretty stoked that I’m at the top. I’m also nervous because it means I need to pour all my resources into shooting this pilot and making it the vision in my head.

NOT SO SUPER, Genre: Drama

Christophor Rick,

What happens when a superhero hits a midlife crisis? Vince is having problems in both halves of his life. At home, his marriage is crumbling, and while ‘on duty,’ he’s been feeling not so super. His lack of confidence is painfully evident, and the city is losing faith. Not So Super twists those classic comic book archetypes into a dark drama with comedic turns.

COOL JUSTICE, Genre: Comedy

Todd Rulapaugh and Brian Groh,

Picture Starsky & Hutch meets Reno 911, where anything can and does happen. In this action comedy, two cryogenically frozen undercover cops from the 70’s are thawed out in present day L.A. to help a hottie heiress claim her missing millions. Together the unlikely three-some bust up bad guys old-school-style while following cryptic-clues left by her eccentric billionaire-scientist-grandfather.

The Pick Up Chicks, Genre: Romantic Comedy

Stacie Capone,

In this romantic comedy, Brooklyn roomies Darcy, Emma, and Jane stumble upon a brilliant idea for self-employment: why not take clueless guys out for a night on the town, and use their collective girl power to transform dunderhead dudes into dashing pickup artists? To their surprise, they become a smashing success. But while the WingWomen’s mission is to reinvent the perfect man, they might just find that they end up reinventing themselves in the process.

SPYCOLOGY, Genre: Action Comedy

Travis Tyler and James Poirier,

Where did James Bond learn all those crazy and badass things? Right here, at SpySchool. Think
Community meets James Bond with a splash of Gossip Girl. We follow the select few kids trying to forge themselves into super spies via ridiculous classes and simulated ‘pop quizzes’. Wake up, your roommate has been taken hostage. Hurry, you’re being graded.

THE OTHERS, Genre: Thriller

Douglas Stark,

When Elias Porter – delivery man, husband, and father – helps an injured man get to a hospital, he dismisses the man’s ramblings about the city being under ‘mind control’ as crazy rants. But Elias soon  uncovers the truth: his job, family, and identity are false implants created by a covert group controlling the city.

Each finalist will continue to work with one of the TV Reset Project’s judges as a mentor as they move into production. The five pilots will then be distributed through ZoomTilt’s YouTube channel and other ZoomTilt distribution outlets. The pilot with the most social network shares,likes and total minutes of footage watched by audiences will be selected and funded for a full season of their show that will air from ZoomTilt’s YouTube channel page.

“Our finalists were selected after a review of their show’s originality, quality and expected audience appeal. Together, the five represent a collection of both established and up-and-coming entertainment talent, and we can’t wait to share their exciting work with viewers,” says Anna Callahan, CEO of ZoomTilt.

It’s like we created one full line of fall shows in one competition,’ says Chris Bolman, Callahan’s Co-Founder, ‘it would be tough for me to decide which one will be crowned the winning pilot and that’s why we want our viewers to decide.”

Pilots will be available for viewing on November 19th, just in time for Thanksgiving and the Cyber Monday holidays.