The AMP Accelerator

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Find Your Audience Then Tell Your Story

Deadline: March 28th, 2016


Shaftesbury/Smokebomb’s digital series pitch competition The AMP Accelerator, in partnership with the Banff World Media Festival, returns for a second year following its successful inaugural run, with more than 90 projects submitted. 2015 saw all three finalists move their projects into development with Shaftesbury/Smokebomb including nail salon drama DID from Hannah Cheesman and Mackenzie Donaldson (Whatever, Linda; Orphan Black), feminist comedy book review Slutty Book Club from comedians Nikki Saltz and Sara Starkman, and Korean drama Lenny Falls In Love from Angelica Mendizabal.

The business of branded digital entertainment has exploded over the past few years, and we want to hear from new storytellers as evolving media consumption habits and funding models continue to shape the industry.

But simply having a creative idea and telling a great story isn’t enough. You need to know who your audience is, where they are and what they want — and, once you have them, how you keep them with you. Our mantra for engaging millennial audiences is give them something of value and then they will give you their attention – and money.

To do that, figure out who the 2,000 hardcore fans are who will love your show and why. In the new world of global content, 2,000 people actually equals millions. Lasercast, not broadcast. When you find a dedicated, niche audience that echoes your creative siren call, you have our attention.

We want to find three stellar scripted female-driven comedy or dramedy digital series pitches and send their creators to participate in a live competitive pitch session at the Banff World Media Festival in June.

During the pitch session at Banff, at least one of the three finalists will receive a development deal with Shaftesbury/Smokebomb to bring their project to life (all three projects were selected for development last year). Additionally, the company’s branded entertainment agency, shift2, will explore potential brand partnerships for the winning pitch(es).

The AMP Accelerator Timeline

  • Applications open March 11 and close Monday, March 28, 2016 at 5 PM EST.
  • Shaftesbury/Smokebomb thanks all who apply, but only those who are selected to advance to the second application stage will be contacted by Monday, April 4, 2016.
  • Three finalists will be confirmed by early May 2016 and announced prior to the Banff World Media Festival.

Who You Are:

  • An emerging storyteller, digital producer or traditional television writer who wants to tell a story and build an audience on digital platforms
  • Interested in finding a new way to fund your project through branded entertainment
  • Have a unique story to tell for a very specific audience
  • Know where to find, and speak to, your audience
  • Available to attend the Banff World Media Conference (June 12-15, 2016), should your project be selected as a finalist
  • A resident of Canada

Who We Are:

  • Creators of branded YouTube entertainment like Carmilla and MsLabelled who believe digital series work best when told across more episodes with shorter run times, including strong cliffhangers that generate momentum to drive audiences to the next episode.
  • Strong believers in audience identification and authentic engagement as an integral component of holistic development and distribution of digital content
  • Focused on millennial (ages 16-24) female audiences

Pitch Criteria:

  • One submission per creator/team
  • Scripted English-language that targets a 16-24 female-skewing audience
  • Series pitch must be a female-driven comedy or dramedy. We want:
    • Relatable, authentic reflections of friendships and relationships
    • Flipping stereotypes, subverting expectations, unexpected subcultures
    • Empowered, female-led narratives
    • The more niche, the better

What Finalist(s) Get:

  • Round-trip flight, accommodation and registration for one representative per project to attend the 2016 Banff World Media Festival to pitch your series in front of a live industry audience (If a pitch is submitted by a team, the entrants must select one person to represent the project at Banff)
  • Advice and support from Shaftesbury/Smokebomb to refine your pitch prior to the Banff World Media Festival


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