Elton John Enlists Jeffrey Katzenberg, Barry Jenkins as Judges for Web Competition Series
The series tasks creatives with pitching music videos for popular Elton John songs, including "Rocket Man" and "Tiny Dancer."
Elton John is calling on some well-known names to judge his YouTube competition series.
The singer has named Jeffrey Katzenberg, Moonlight director Barry Jenkins and music video director Melina Matsoukas to serve as the judges for Elton John: The Cut, a competition series that tasks online creators with making music videos for some of his most popular songs.
The Cut, first announced in December, is currently accepting music video entries for three John songs that were released before the advent of the music video. Submissions for "Rocket Man" should feature animation, "Tiny Dancer" should feature live-action video and "Bennie and the Jets" should feature choreography.
The deadline for submissions is Jan. 23. After that, YouTube creators Kurt Hugo Schneider, PES and Parris Goebel will narrow down the submissions into a short list that Katzenberg, Jenkins and Matsoukas will then judge alongside John and his writing partner Bernie Taupin. The three winners will see their entries premiere on YouTube this summer.
"Like countless millions of others on the planet, I've been a fan of Sir Elton John since 'Tiny Dancer' made a giant impact on music lovers everywhere," said Katzenberg, who currently serves as chairman of DreamWorks New Media, a division of NBCUniversal. "But in the early '90s, it was my extraordinary good fortune to get to know him personally when he wrote the incredible songs for The Lion King. Since then, not only have I gotten to continue to work with him, but I've had the privilege of calling him a friend. So, I can think of no better way to start the new year than to embark on this new journey with Elton, as he brings phenomenal creativity and innovation to YouTube."
Added Jenkins: "The Cut is so exciting to me because it combines a number of things I'm passionate about. As a filmmaker whose first film was made with the DIY tools of digital cinema, I love how the democratization of the filmmaking process and platforms like YouTube enables people to tell stories that in previous generations simply could not be told."
Matsoukas, who directed Beyonce's "Formation" and Rihanna's "We Found Love," said she "grew up on music videos in the MTV era. Having the space to experiment and learn as I was getting started in my filmmaking career was vital to my success." She added: "It's a dream to be part of this program, which is providing that opportunity for emerging directors and redefining the relationship between such an iconic artist and his fans through video."
The Cut was conceived in celebration of John's 50-year partnership with Taupin.
The series is being produced with digital agency AKQA and production studio Pulse Films. YouTube has also given its support to the project, providing the resources necessary to turn each winning submission into a fully realized music video. The Google-owned streamer is also offering $10,000 in prizes for the winning creators.
The competition is also donating $20,000 to a charity of each judge's choice. Katzenberg has selected the Motion Picture and Television Fund, the board of which he serves as chairman, and Jenkins has selected the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center. Matsoukas has yet to announce her charity.