User-generated content contests may or may not be losing their cache, but regardless of success or backfire, their numbers appear to be increasing, and they’re definitely here to stay.

For brands and marketers, the online video events are a helluva lot easier to produce, provide more content and, most importantly, cost significantly less than dropping a few million at your local, fancypants, ad house on a 30- or 60-second spot. For filmmakers, they provide a means of motivation and create an opportunity for some unbeatable exposure. They also have some sick prizes.

Filmmaker, Indy Mogul creator, and Next New Networkspromo guru, Justin Johnson has seen the spoils firsthand:

“I entered a video contest that Converse was having a couple years ago, and even though I didn’t win, they still sent me a free pair of Chucks…My friend David Lehre (of Myspace: The Movie fame) won a couple of cars in a contest, and actually just appeared on Kimmel for winning another one. My friend Brad just won his second vacation (this time to Greece) from travel site Contiki.”

Justin always prefers the contests judged by panels as opposed to the online popularity events that measure how many friends you can get to vote for your video. They’re a better measure of quality and talent and offer “a great way for struggling freelancers and young upstarts to prove they kick ass.” Problem is, how do you find them?

Justin created an answer:

Along with the talented, Southern Californian coder, Aaron Pollock (who you should e-mail at aaronpATthezipperDOTorg if you need a programmer/css guy) Justin started up Online Video Contests in late 2006. At the time, he had just started to dabble in the space and was ready to dig deeper to see what pieces of possible gold he could find for himself and his filmmaking friends. Plus, he was doing a URL search one day and saw the domain was available and figured he had to start something before someone else did (I totally know the feeling – why do you think we jumped on Tilzy.TV!?!).

He and Aaron came up with a streamlined information site, offering aspiring filmmakers only the essentials. The sleek, tumblr-like design informs would-be winners of what the contest is all about, how many days they have left, and how much they can win. For instance, in the next 11 days, there’s at least $80,000 up for grabs between seven competitions, including a shot at a $57,000 check from Heinz.

Justin tells me that he’s updating the list constantly and the site has developed enough online recognition to where he no longer has to do that much exploring. Many brands, marketers, advertisers, and other sites contact him whenever a new contest is launched. He’s also been able to get some sponsorship from eBillme, who runs a monthly Shopping Confessions contest with a $1,000 prize.

“These things are popping up all over now more than ever…They spread good will to the future of the industry, and toss mad bank to the lucky, and deserving winner. It’s a win for the brand, and a win for creativity.”

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