“You can have the most whizz-bang camera moves and special effects but unless you have a great idea it’s absolutely meaningless.”

So says veteran actor David Wenham, best known for such projects as 300 and Lord of the Rings, and more recently Killing Time.

“I think the most important element in any film or television piece is the idea itself. And it has to be a really unique, original idea.”

Content creators need to keep this in mind – particularly those competing for the Optus One80Project crown as Wenham is one of the three main judges. Joining Wenham in his second year as judge is Tomorrow, When The War Began actor Lincoln Lewis and 2010 One80 winner Maia Horniak.

The Optus/MTV competition, now in its sixth year, is an opportunity for aspiring TV makers to jumpstart their career with the opportunity to see their big idea brought to life. Entrants submitted a 180-second trailer and treatment and 10 finalists were chosen by Optus and MTV representatives. The judges will now choose one project to be made into a one-hour drama pilot – with a production budget of $180,000. It will then be screened on MTV Australia and New Zealand. A Public Vote Award will also be handed out – the public has until March 4 to cast their choice.

Sporting a moustache last night before flying to New Zealand today to prepare for Jane Campion miniseries Top of the Lake, Wenham told an east-Sydney crowd that he was proud to be involved. He spoke fondly of his experience with the project last year.

“I remember very clearly just under 12 months ago, I was sitting in a pretty rubbish apartment in Los Angeles reading pretty 'rubbishy' scripts and I was doing my judging duties over there,” the AFI-winner started.

“And I remember very clearly the first time that I saw one of last year’s finalists – the Van Vuuren brothers’ film Sick. And within seconds of watching this little trailer, I was instantly entranced because here was a film that was completely original, it was very, very unconventional, it was bizarre in some places, but it was absolutely compelling and captivating.

“And I thought that, to me it was so obvious that here were two talents that could shake things up a bit and were capable of producing a really unique one-hour piece of television.” Sick went on to win the big prize last year.

This year's 10 finalists are: Starfish (Hannah Moon, VIC), Fracture (Aaron Singfield and Liesl Hinde, QLD), Routes (Isabella Schulenburg, John Scarpias, Luci Kumar Sharma, Paige Turner, Daniel Page and Georgie Dothanh, NSW), King (Luke Goodall and Sam Peterson, VIC), Deadbeat Dads (Ben Mathews, Kent Pearson and Shelley McLaren, NSW), Swindle (Nate Charles and Jack James, SA), The School (Storm Ashwood and Tessa Little, NSW), Seed (Lachlan Clarke, VIC), Chasing A Martingale (Claire Shearwood and Stephanie Marks, WA) and Trainerz (Steen Raskopoulos and Shawn Peach, NSW).

The winner will be announced at Sydney’s Moonlight Cinema on March 18. To view and vote, click here.

The three judges: Lincoln Lewis, Maia Horniak and David Wenham

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