Only a year ago, it seemed like the key to online discovery, internet success, and golden tickets to Hollywood could all be attained through the then ubiquitous online video contest.

MySpace had its Storyteller Challenge. Sony Pictures Television re-envisioned Crackle as a haven for competition among aspiring amateurs. Comedy Central called for Test Pilots. “It was a good time to be a film student,” or at least that’s what we thought. Then they announced the winners.

In retrospect, we can say they were all just big, anticlimactic, dog and pony shows. A way to drum up site publicity and mine for talent that eventually proved ineffective in finding any undiscovered, chart-topping hits (save YouTube’s First SketchiesAwkward Pictures is awesome!).

So instead of contest winners, the entertainment industry looks online for the creators of viral videos to populate its commercials, television timeslots, and full-motion-picture releases. Latest hopeful: afro ninja.

Earlier this week, Jenna gave a detailed report on Hollywood stuntman Mark Hicks and his stumble that, after two years and several million views, could launch him into a stratum of stardom far above internet phenomenon.

The 37-year old Minnesota native (Is there a disproportionate amount of online famo Minnesotans? What’s in the water over there?) is pitching Afroninja: Destiny to distributors – a movie he “co-wrote, directed and starred in” and features his epically failed 2004 Nike commercial audition as a starting point.

It’s an action/comedy flick about a down-on-his-luck fighter who tackles tough odds to come out on top. Sounds kinda like Rush Hour Part Rudy, where Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan are played by the same character. Take a look:

If this works, expect a Laughing Baby or All Your Bases Are Belong to Us feature film to be next.

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