Composer, lyricist, visionary: Elton John may be an accomplished artist, but he’s looking for help on his latest project. The Rocket Man himself is launching “Elton John: The Cut supported by YouTube,” an original music video competition.The global contest, judged by Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, music video maven Melina Matsoukas (Beyonce, Rihanna) and acclaimed director Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) is looking to the brightest creative minds of tomorrow to craft new original videos for John’s iconic hits “Bennie and the Jets,” “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer.” The trio of judges, along with John and his longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, will select the winners, who will be unveiled this summer.
“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 Katzenberg in a statement. “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.”
Matsoukas is proud of the opportunities offered through the initiative. “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.”
Filmmaker Jenkins sees music as integral to his creative vision. “Music is core to my films and to my creative process,” he explains. “‘The Cut’ is so exciting to me because it combines a number of things I’m passionate about….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,” John describes. “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.”
Interested applicants can scan the fine print here. Each song’s video will require its own film technique, with animated submissions for “Rocket Man,” live-action visuals for “Tiny Dancer” and choreographed routines for “Bennie and the Jets.” Need some guidance? Check out this stop-animation video to “Rocket Man” from Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmaker.” Applicants over the age of 16 can submit their entries until Jan. 23.