DirecTV will create a documentary partially based on the Internet’s suggestions. The pay-TV cable provider has teamed up with crowdsourcing platform Tongal to find “The Next Great American Documentary.”
DirecTV will provide $50,000 to the filmmaker whose 60-minute documentary project is selected by Tongal’s community. The final product will be released on the cable provider’s Audience Network channel, which boasts content DirecTV’s senior VP of original content and production Chris Long calls “daring, intriguing, and controversial.”
The search for the DirecTV documentary search is broken down into a few different production and voting stages. First, any U.S. resident 13 years or older may submit a topic or idea for the upcoming documentary before March 30, 2015.
Tongal’s page for the DirecTV documentary search notes any idea is acceptable as long as it’s “fresh, original, and would appeal to [an] American audience.” Interested participants can look to previous documentaries shown on the Audience Network for inspiration. The DirecTV channel has previously aired documentaries like Bourbontucky (about Kentucky Bourbon producers) and Locker Room Addiction (about athletes becoming addicted to prescription medications).
Once DirecTV’s Audience Network has picked three of the submitted topics, the project moves into the second phase, which lets anyone vote on which of the ideas they’d like to see turned into a documentary. Next, filmmakers are invited to submit a pitch based on one of the winning subjects from the previous phase.
The Audience Network will vote again, picking two pitches which will advance to the sizzle reel stage. The final round of voting (again open to anyone) will choose one reel to green light for production.
“There are lots of young filmmakers in America,” said Long to Variety. “We said, ‘Why not give those people a chance to get a great story to be told, and we could be the first one to maybe find a great talent?’” As for Tongal, president and co-founder James DeJulio said the partnership is interesting overall because “distribution is built in.”
This is not the first time Tongal has teamed with a media company to deliver documentaries to viewers. Previously, the Sundance Film Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation used Tongal’s platform to ask users to submit film ideas for the Institute’s Short Film Challenge, based on an assigned philanthropic topic. Tongal users submitted over 1,300 ideas for that project.
“The Next Great American Documentary” initiative runs through October 16, 2015. You can read all the details and official rules for Tongal and DirecTV’s crowdsourced documentary on the project’s dedicated Tongal page.