New ‘media accelerator’ program aims to help Utah film and digital talent grow at home

A new incubator for film and digital talent in Utah is being launched by the Salt Lake Film Society, the arts nonprofit that runs the Broadway Centre Cinemas and Tower Theatre.

The new Media Accelerator Studio, or MAST, will help foster animators, game designers and content creators who have finished college, with the intent of letting them thrive in Utah rather than move to the media centers of Los Angeles, Vancouver and New York, said Miles Romney, the co-founder and director of the new initiative.

Romney, an entertainment and tech entrepreneur (and a nephew of Sen.-elect Mitt Romney), said the program will help artists take charge of their own business opportunities, and be “better equipped to create their art wherever they are.”

MAST will have a fellowship program, hands-on labs both on-site and online, contests, mentoring, networking and chances to collaborate with other artists.

The program, said Tori A. Baker, SLFS’s executive director and MAST’s other co-founder, will begin with three contests: “People of Earth,” for writers; “Micro-docs,” for documentary filmmakers; and “Voices Seen,” for animators.

Entries will be solicited through February, and fellowship recipients will be picked from those entrants. Cash prizes will also be awarded, and winners of the “Voices Seen” contest will animate a scene in a MAST short to produced and directed by “a marquee industry talent,” whose name is yet to be announced.

Funding for MAST is coming from an endowment from the Robin M. Woods Legacy Fund for Future Initiatives. For details on the program, go to www.MastStudio.org.