TCL U.S. Launches AI-Focused TV & Film Accelerator Program


EXCLUSIVE: TCLtv+, the streaming service of the Chinese electronics group that owns the TCL Chinese Theatre, is launching a new, AI-focused accelerator for film and television creatives.

The shorts program, called TCL Film Machine, offers development, financial and production support to working creatives, looking to enhance and elevate their films using AI tools. It will start with five entrants this year. Grants begin at $25k but could increase significantly based on talent and project.

“With explosive growth in AI, there is an urgent need for creatives who know how to apply AI tools to enrich their storytelling. At present, the industry offers limited pathways for professionals to further enhance their expertise,” said the streamer, which recently launched a production studio that will support the projects. It said a global production team of animators, VFX experts and AI engineers, customizing the latest AI tech, will help producers, writers, and actors in the program create premium content.

Filmmaker Dave Clark, an early AI adaptor, will be a key program advisor. Clark makes commercials, immersive engagements, and brand spots for big companies (Snapchat, Hewlett Packard, Pepsi, Lobos Tequila, Intel). He’s partnered creatively with actors and activists Michael Ealy, George Clooney, the late Michael K. Williams, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and speaks frequently about AI including at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals.

AI in entertainment is highly, fiercely controversial now, but he argues that it empowers creators.

The accelerator’s first class will have access to the latest AI technology and tools, animators, a budget, and a platform to release their film to audiences — the TCL Chinese Theaters and streamer TCLtv+. The application, which is opens from June 20 to July 20, is free and mid-level or above creators working in TV and film are encouraged to apply. Target projects are five minutes but can go up to ten. The program is looking for proven filmmakers with experience in short or long form traditional storytelling looking to explore AI to bring their vision to life. 

“There is no pipeline at present for professional AI film and television. We are looking to incubate and build the AI creative community. The passion, demand and excitement are there for AI to break big onto the creative scene and we want to galvanize that growth potential through access and opportunity,” said Chris Regina, TCL’s chief content officer, TCL.

Five projects is just a working number and Film Machine could support additional projects.

TCLtv+ Studios several series and specials in the development pipeline, including AI and more traditional scripted and unscripted projects. It said collaborations on all projects will expand beyond the TCLtv+ Studios teams and will include guild writers and actors as well as key Hollywood talent. In April, TCLtv+ Studios launched a trailer of its first AI love story, Next Stop Paris.

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