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National Black Programming Consortium/Silicon Harlem Hackathon Winners Announced

National Black Programming Consortium/Silicon Harlem Hackathon Winners Announced

It’s an event that I unfortunately couldn’t attend last week, but that I’m more than glad to support however possible, and that you should know about, given its overall intent. 

Earlier this year, out of a field of 163 applicants, the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), a Harlem-based media arts nonprofit, selected 8 winners for its new incubator program, NBPC 360. The new funding initiative is designed to identify innovative storytellers and to generate quality serial, digital and multi-platform content for television and the Web. The selected projects then entered a 6-week boot camp, where they worked with veteran producers in their bid to win development funds of between $50,000 and $150,000 for their series pilots.

The below release details continuing development efforts on the selected projects that’s part of the overall NBPC 360 initiative, via the organization’s first-ever hackathon – Hack360.

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National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), the Harlem-based media arts organization, announced winners of its first-ever Hack360, produced in partnership with Silicon Harlem at the Silicon Harlem 2nd Annual Tech Conference on Friday. The theme of the inaugural NBPC-Silicon Harlem Hackathon was gamification, and participants worked over two days to create prototypes for games to promote the TV and Web series they are developing. Hack360 is thought to be the first hackathon in Harlem to create companion games for series.

The Jury prize of $3,000 went to Sultan Sharrief and Oren Goldenberg, producers of the broadcast TV series Street Cred, a reality show documenting the challenges 12 Detroit high school students must overcome to meet entertainment/production skill-based tasks as they compete for a chance to win a dream internship. The goal of the Street Cred Movie Mogul game app is for players to build their film company and work their way toward getting their name on a Hollywood star and becoming a movie mogul. Gamers—the app is targeted at high school students—complete film-based challenges and logic games designed to teach them how the film industry works and demystify the path to success.

The Audience prize of $1,000 was awarded to Damon Colquhoun, producer of the fictional urban fantasy Web series Pixie Dust, about a teen girl, Faye, with magical powers to quell the mental illness in her mother. Pixie Dust: Home to Mom is a puzzle-style video game for desktop and mobile that challenges gamers to use young Faye’s fairy powers to safely navigate a community littered with unstable characters who threaten her mental health. The game is designed to illustrate how navigating a population rife with mental stressors can, over time, deplete one’s own mental health.

The two final projects were awarded cash prizes of $500: POPS, the Web documentary series dispelling myths about Black fathers (producer: Garland McLaurin) and Black Broadway on U, an interactive Web project unlocking the rich Black history of the culturally vibrant U Street corridor in Washington, D.C., dubbed “Black Broadway” by entertainer Pearl Bailey (producer: Shellée Haynesworth). POPS+LIFE is a mobile scavenger hunt mixing arts, music, culture and history in city neighborhoods and historical sites; fathers and their children work to explore and solve missions while building relationships. Duke’s DC: Just Jumpin’ and Jivin’ is an interactive scavenger hunt and quiz for Web and mobile that takes users on a walking tour of the lavish dance halls, upscale theaters and after-hours nightclubs and saloons where D.C. native and arguably the world’s greatest jazz composer, Edward “Duke” Ellington, was a mainstay in the early 20th century.

Competitors were all finalists (fellows) of the inaugural NBPC 360, an incubator and fund designed to bring original broadcast and Web series closer to market. These producers were paired with technologists selected by Silicon Harlem for the event. The games designed could be for the Web, mobile, Xbox or any other gaming platform.

NBPC, the nation’s only nonprofit organization dedicated solely to media content about the Black experience, launched NBPC 360 in the fall of 2014 to identify and fund new series for public television or Web. Four projects won, and were awarded between $50,000 and $100,000 in funding for their series pilots.

“We decided on a hackathon and game to help producers make additional connections to their target audiences and because funders and public media, in particular, are increasingly interested in multi-platform projects with the potential to reach and engage audiences outside of the PBS broadcast demographics,” said NBPC Director of Programs and Acquisitions Kay Shaw. “Additional platforms that create an immersive user experience, like gaming, are even more critical when trying to reach communities of color and younger viewers who are not always as broadly represented in public television.”

“Anytime we can put together creative talent with tech experts, innovation is born,” said Silicon Harlem Co-Founder Clayton Banks. “This hackathon represents another step toward transforming Harlem into a tech and innovation hub.”

NBPC 360 partners include WNET (lead station), WTTW, WYES, KQED, WGBH/World, American Public Television, National Minority Consortia, SCETV, BRITDOC, POV, ITVS, IFP Made in NY, Tribeca Film Institute, NYC Media, Silicon Harlem and PGA Diversity. The program is made possible by funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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