Vimeo debuts Focus Forward, a film series about the big ideas in tech

There’s no time like the present to be using technology to make something really big. Of course, a lot of people and companies are already doing just that — but unfortunately, they don’t always get the kind of wide exposure they deserve. That may be partly because the media coverage of such big-picture, highly technical projects is not as accessible and absorbing as it could be.
So it’s awesome that video sharing site Vimeo has joined forces with General Electric(s GE) and video publisher Cinelan to launch “Focus Forward” — a micro documentary series that aims to showcase big, world-changing technology innovations in a compelling way. The project’s website describes its mission thusly:

“In the span of three minutes, these films will encompass everything from medical advances to economically viable ‘green’-powered homes to the development of wireless technologies in Third World countries, not to mention innovations in transportation and healthcare, gene therapy and waste management, or any other sphere of art and knowledge that inspires them.”

In all, it’s a very cool mission. The series launched in January at the Sundance Film Festival, and some of the biggest names in documentary filmmaking — including Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame) Gary Hustwit (who made Helvetica and Objectified) and Jessica Yu (who won an Oscar for Breathing Lessons), among others –are signed up to make Focus Forward films that will premiere online and at film festivals throughout the year.
But to me the most exciting thing is that the project, which is hosted on Vimeo, will also be open to submissions from the general public. People who submit videos to the contest, which is called the “Focus Forward Filmmaking Challenge,” will be up for $200,000 in cash prizes, including a $100,000 grand prize. Submissions will open during the Tribeca Film Festival this April, and the prizes will be handed out next year at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. This is what Focus Forward says it’s looking for:

“We’re looking for professionally produced, three-minute end-to-end stories about people or organizations whose innovative efforts in medicine, computer science, robotics, engineering, green energy, or other fields of applied technical knowledge have had a significant positive impact on humanity. Recent, cutting-edge inventions that are changing how we live today are of special interest.”

With how inexpensive digital SLR cameras with video capabilities have become in recent years, and the huge amount of innovative tech projects out there, there is a lot of opportunity to create awesome films that fall into the Focus Forward mold. It’ll be exciting to see what people come up with.
Here’s a video explaining what the Focus Forward Film Challenge is all about:

Focus Forward – Short Films, Big Ideas: Filmmaker Challenge from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.