Sports giant Nike has become the latest corporate entity to explore the crossover between consumer marketing and film production.

The sporting goods manufacturer has launched an annual 'UK Young Directors Awards' in association with London-based short film company Britshorts. The scheme offers an $8,500 (£6,000) award for amateur filmmakers to produce a 180-second digital short film on the subject of sport.

The aim of the scheme, says Nike, is not to produce commercials but to encourage new film talent "and unveil new insights into the emotional side of sport".

Three projects for funding will be chosen from scripts and treatments received by July 14, and the winning candidates will have six weeks to produce the film, with assistance from Britshorts, a start-up short film production and distribution outfit headed by producers Robert Fox and Fragile Films' Barnaby Thompson. The latter produced the Oscar-nominated short Dear Rosie, directed by Peter Cattaneo, in 1991.

According to Nike, an appropriate athlete may be provided for each of the three films for a cameo appearance.

A winning film will be selected by a panel including The Film Council's Richard Morris and Richard Parry, director of forthcoming UK feature SW9. The film will then be screened at Nike's flagship central London store Niketown, as well as being exhibited by UK circuit Zoo Cinemas. The winner will also spend five days at the Nike European film and video division in Amsterdam, as well as having the film distributed through Britshorts.

The project is the latest high-profile corporate venture into film production, as companies aim to capitalise on the credibility offered by aligning themselves with film talent, whether established or emerging.

Part of the current trend includes The Hire, BMW's high-profile online short film programme featuring five shorts from directors including Wong Kar-wai, Guy Ritchie and John Frankenheimer. Like Nike, BMW is not referring to the films as commercials, despite them showcasing a host of the company's vehicles.