SOAPnet Enrolls Student-Generated Content

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In an experiment that could be tagged Project Greenlight meets YouTube, SOAPnet is launching a platform for showcasing student-created soap operas.

The platform -- branded SoapU and debuting this fall -- will challenge college students to create their own 10-minute soaps and compete for a $20,000 budget to produce original content for broadband channel SoapNetic.

Many schools may already have a jump on the competition. SOAPnet estimated that about 350 schools across the country are currently producing film or television content, and some colleges already have running soaps, such as Ivory Towers by Harvard University, University Place by Northwestern University, General College by the University of North Carolina, The B.C. by Boston College and Bay State by Boston University.

“College students are ardent soap fans and have a history of creating soaps centered on college life,” SOAPnet general manager Deborah Blackwell said. “SoapU is a great opportunity to showcase the talent that is alive and flourishing on college campuses around the country while building deeper relationships with our student viewers.”

Submissions for SoapU must be received by Dec. 31, and 10 semifinalists will be selected, with their work appearing on the SoapU micro-site on SOAPnet.com (soapnet.go.com). From Jan. 15-26, fans and visitors will then vote for their top five favorite soap projects. Finalists will then be given eight weeks to create a five-minute episode or vignette with a 20-second promo based on a soap-opera scenario provided by the network.

During the eight-week process, each finalist will be visited by a SOAPnet crew to document behind-the-scenes action.

The grand-prize winner, to be announced in April, will receive a budget of $20,000 to produce original content for SOAPnet’s broadband programming, as well as a trip to Los Angeles to pitch original-programming and broadband-content concepts to SOAPnet and SoapNetic.

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