Three of today’s most innovative minds are lending their expertise to select the final three winning entries for “Elton John: The Cut supported by YouTube” – a global competition to create the official music videos for three of the singer’s most iconic songs – “Bennie and the Jets,” “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer.”
Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Grammy Award-winner Melina Matsoukas, and Barry Jenkins, writer-director of Golden Globe Best Picture (Drama) Moonlight, will serve as judges for the competition that gives aspiring creators from all over the world the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply their creative vision to creating music videos for these iconic hits.
Together with Elton John and his writing partner Bernie Taupin, three winners will be selected, and those winning entries will premiere on YouTube in summer of 2017. Entries are now officially open to the public.
“Like countless millions of others around the planet, I’ve been a fan of Sir Elton John since Tiny Dancer made a giant impact on music lovers everywhere,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chairman of DreamWorks New Media.
“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.”
Melina Matsoukas, the video director behind some of today’s most influential music videos including Beyonce’s “Formation” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love” adds, “I 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. 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.”
Barry Jenkins states, “Music is core to my films and to my creative process. ‘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. I hope to see ideas for this competition that push boundaries and defy expectations.”
“Artists like me have to embrace technology, because it’s the only way forward,” says Elton John. “One of the reasons we are doing this project with YouTube is to encourage young filmmakers to create visual ideas for these songs, and it gives us the chance to share these songs with younger fans. I’ve always had a passion for youth and passion for the new. This is very exciting because we’ve never seen videos for these songs.”
In honour of their participation in the program, a donation of $20,000 will be made in honour of each judge to a charity of their choice. Jeffrey Katzenberg has selected the Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF) and Barry Jenkins has selected African Heritage Cultural Arts Centre. Melina Matsoukas will announce her charity at a later date.
“The Motion Picture and Television Fund is grateful that Jeffrey Katzenberg has designated our organization as the recipient of a generous donation from Sir Elton John and the producers of The Cut,” said Ken Scherer, Chief Executive Officer of the MPTF Foundation. “This donation will help fund our charitable programs and services, including financial assistance, crisis and personal counselling, child care, elder care and, of course, the legendary retirement campus in Woodland Hills, California.”
Applicants can find contest details and advice on how to enter the competition here. Music video entries for each of the songs will feature different artistic elements – submissions for “Rocket Man” will feature animation, “Tiny Dancer” will be live-action, and “Bennie and the Jets” will feature choreography.
To inspire applicants, YouTube creators Kurt Hugo Schneider, PES and Parris Goebel, who will shortlist the entries and present their selections to the judges, have put together their own ideas to kick things off.
Check out the video above from PES, an Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmaker, who applied his unique stop-animation style to “Rocket Man.”
The competition closes on January 23rd and is open to anyone over 16, subject to local terms and conditions. Elton John: The Cut is being produced with the help of digital agency AKQA, and production studio Pulse Films.