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GoPro Aims to Lure Budding Filmmakers With USC Cinema School Tie-Up

The camera maker has pledged to donate equipment and expertise -- and to compensate film students for their work.

Asa Mathat for Re/code

GoPro is looking to capture filmmakers while they’re young.

The maker of cameras best known for capturing action footage has struck a partnership with USC’s Cinematic Arts program, contributing GoPro equipment and expertise and offering to compensate the film school’s students for content distributed on its platform. It will also showcase the students’ work at a just-inaugurated GoPro Awards platform.

“It’s important that we recognize and we start to give back to the creative community that enables GoPro to be a GoPro,” said founder Nick Woodman. “Without the content, GoPro would be just another hardware company trying to be cool.”

The news underscores the importance of content to the success of GoPro, whose mountable and wearable cameras compete with ones made by more established players, including Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung and the like.

Woodman, fresh off an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” told a group of students assembled Thursday at the USC film school his company’s well-known origin story and how it married his twin passions for the creative arts and surfing.

GoPro Awards is GoPro’s always-on content platform that rewards the GoPro community for sharing their best GoPro photos, raw video clips and video edits for inclusion in GoPro Channel programming. The company offers weekly awards of $5,000 for best video, $1,000 for best raw clip and $500 for best photo.

Ties between GoPro and USC run deep, with former USC student Abe Kislevitz using the early GoPro cameras to record footage of the USC ski team doing front and back flips off 50-foot jumps — captured from the unique perspective of a camera mounted at the end of ski poles or on helmets. That footage showcased the capabilities of the cameras, and ended up getting Abe a job as a senior production artist at GoPro.

“This whole thing with USC and GoPro is a continuation of what we’ve done since the beginning, doing what we can to support content creators,” Woodman said. “We know what’s going to be hugely helpful to them will be hugely helpful to our business.”

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