Aspiring British moviemakers will have the chance to have their work seen by millions under a new competition from Virgin Media.

Offering a £30,000 prize and a chance to have their work screened in cinemas across the country, the Virgin Media Shorts competition launches today, aiming to find the brightest film talent in the UK.

By submitting a film of no more than two-and-a-half minutes long before June 30th, budding directors who aspire to be the next Joe Wright or Sam Mendes could reach a final shortlist of 12 before a prestigious judging panel selects the winning entry in September.

All 12 shortlisted pieces will be screened before the main feature at 211 independent UK cinemas while 3.5 million Virgin Media customers will be able to access the film through the internet and phone provider's on-demand service.

And the winning filmmaker, as well as earning £30,000 and a premiere of their work on the Virgin 1 digital channel, will also get the chance to produce short film in conjunction with the UK Film Council.

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson commented: "It's great to see home-grown British filmmaking talent being recognised and given such an amazing chance to be seen by millions of people across the UK.

"British filmmaking is now being honoured in awards ceremonies all over the world – all of those filmmakers needed a first break – hopefully Virgin Media Shorts will give unknown filmmakers out there the break they deserve.

He added: "My advice is simple - don't give up and believe in yourself."

James Kydd, Virgin Media's managing director of brand and marketing called the competition a "life-changing opportunity for filmmakers who have historically struggled to get exposure for their work" which would put them "in the spotlight to an audience of millions".

01/05/2008 08:11:15