Program adds NYU as partner for Web series contest

Subway has expanded its “Subway Fresh Artists Filmmakers” program, expanding the project to New York University after launching it at University of Southern California last year.

MyDamnChannel and IFC are distribbing the four Web series created during the competition alongside the winning series from last year’s event.

The projects bow today on MyDamnChannel.com and IFC.com before screening at the IFC Crossroads House at the SXSW fest in Austin, Texas, March 12. IFC will also promote the event, which starts airing March 26 on the cabler.

Series also will be syndicated by MyDamnChannel across its partner sites, including YouTube.

Subway, based in Milford, Conn., launched the project after looking for entertainment programming to offer on its Facebook and other social media pages. Its Facebook and Twitter pages has over 11 million fans, for example.

Content & Co, the Los Angeles-based branded entertainment studio, is producing the project for Subway. Founded by Stuart McLean, it’s also produced Schick’s “Clean Break,” that became a hit on Sony’s Crackle.com, and Subway’s “Training for Tahoe,” that NBC aired and stars “The Office’s” Brian Baumgartner, as well as the chain’s music competition with OurStage.com and Clear Channel Radio.

“Now that brands are regularly financing content, the five-years-ago textbook is outdated,” said Stuart McLean, CEO of Content & Co. “Through ‘Subway Fresh Artists,’ we are collectively exposing the next generation of talent to the realities of today’s content creation business, and empowering them to shape the future of our industry.”

Subway opted to expand the program to New York University’s ProMotion Pictures program, after pairing up with the USC School of Cinematic Arts last year, as a way to “showcase emerging talent to a wider audience, and give students the opportunity to represent their schools with a bit of friendly rivalry,” according to Tony Pace, senior VP, global chief marketing officer of Subway’s Franchisee Advertising Fund. “We are pleased to provide an outlet for aspiring filmmakers to pursue their passion,”

Both schools were approached in the fall with a brand brief entitled, “Every Breakfast Sandwich Tells a Story,” with students challenged to develop a creative treatment for scripted web series.

More than 50 student teams submitted creative concepts for judging by a panel of representatives from Subway and Content & Co, USC and NYU faculty and alumni, and industry-insiders James Widdoes (director of “Two and a Half Men”) and Brian Baumgartner (“The Office”). Five semi-finalists were chosen, with two finalists chosen from each university.

“The Ultimates,” about a rag-tag Ultimate Frisbee team that gets a shot at greatness thanks to luck, a new recruit and Subway diet; and “Frat House Musical: The Series,” about a singing freshman, were chosen from USC. “The Loop,” about friends trapped in a time loop; and “Tech Up,” about an entrepreneur endeavoring to launch a startup out of a Subway shop,” won from NYU.

In just a year, USC considers Subway’s project beneficial to its students, considering “many of them will work in television or even branded entertainment after graduation,” said Brenda Goodman, head of the producing track and senior lecturer at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. “We are gratified that the success of our students’ work during last year’s project encouraged Subway to add another program to the mix.”

Subway is offering the filmmakers project to students within NYU’s Stern School of Business, as well as the Interactive Telecommunications Program and the Graduate Film Program, both in the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts.

“Today’s content industry depends upon creative, business and technological excellence, and the opportunity for our students to combine forces has been truly inspiring for them and our faculty alike,” said Sam Craig, director of the entertainment, media and technology program at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

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