SMPTE Launches Vista Project to Support Emerging Filmmakers

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Wed, 07/13/2016 - 13:15 -- Nick Dager

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers today announced the official launch of The Vista Project, a competition that will identify emerging talent in the creative and engineering realms and support future filmmakers in developing interactive cinema experiences. Open exclusively to students enrolled in a two- or four-year accredited university-level undergraduate or graduate program, the competition will award five finalists with $5,000 to create a 10-minute short that could serve as a template for a long-form interactive cinema experience.

Bud MayoThe top two shorts will be screened at CinemaCon in March 2017, and the winner will get an additional $5,000 First Prize, with the runner-up receiving $2,500. Both shorts will be showcased in select theaters following the event. 

Student filmmakers may enter The Vista Project competition by first submitting a maximum 400-word executive summary of their planned projects and a detailed budget describing how they would disburse the $5,000 in award funds by the September 30, 2016, entry deadline. Complete instructions are available at 

Each student's film project should focus on big-screen storytelling with a suggested second-screen interaction, such as with a mobile or tablet device. Participants are encouraged to target their own demographic of digital contemporaries with an immersive approach to film that maintains elements of strong story structure, protagonists, and dialogue. 

"The Vista Project is designed to encourage and incubate a new generation of cinematic storytellers," said Bud Mayo, founding chair of The Vista Project and a noted pioneer of digital cinema. "It provides a unique platform and artistic palette for young filmmakers, teaming them with some of the best and brightest up-and-coming technologists, as well as well-established industry mentors from SMPTE. We are excited to launch this competition."

Barbara LangeMayo donated the initial endowment funds for The Vista Project. He is the founder of two leading theatrical exhibition chains — Clearview Cinemas (now Bowtie Cinemas) and Digiplex/Digital Cinema Destinations (now Carmike Cinemas) — and co-founder of Cinedigm/Access IT, a company that was responsible for spearheading the revolutionary virtual print fee model used to fund thousands of theatrical conversions to digital projection systems around the world. Today, Mayo serves as alternative programming and distribution president at Carmike Cinemas, the nation's fourth-largest cinema circuit.

"We are pleased that The Vista Project, which is focused on offering theatrical exhibitors attractive and immersive content options, is moving forward with its official launch and upcoming student competition," said David Passman, president and CEO of Carmike Cinemas.

The five finalists for The Vista Project competition will be chosen in conjunction with the SMPTE Centennial Gala Celebration in Hollywood, California, in October.

"The Vista Project is enabling SMPTE to build and sustain additional opportunities for students to interact, learn, and grow with one another and — with the support of industry leaders — to develop next-generation cinematic content for future audiences," said Barbara Lange, executive director of SMPTE. "We are truly delighted to partner with Bud Mayo, other members of The Vista Project committee, and students and faculty from some of the world's leading film schools on this worthwhile endeavor."

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers