December 4, 2014 at 10:40AM

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Are ad crowdsourcing contests good or bad for film makers?

From a content creators perspective I haven't been a big fan of crowdsourcing platforms or competitions, mainly as they seemingly commoditize content, promote a race to the bottom in terms of budgets, take advantage of film makers and, from a financial perspective, are not viable to running a business. A colleague likened them to creative sweatshops but then another said they offered film makers the chance to show what they can do, similar in a way to entering a short film competition.

From a brands perspective there are plenty of pros and cons too, but that's another discussion.

Saying all that I recently entered the Doritos Superbowl competition - why? 2 reasons; the $1 million prize and the brief offered lots of potential to be creative. I was also interested to see how these competitions actually worked and this seemed by far the best one out there. I was adamant though not to spend any money on the spot apart from my time or to ask crew/cast for any favours. I wanted this to be about the idea, a really simple idea that could entertain. My inspiration, if that is the right word, was the classic Hamlet Photobooth advert starring Gregor Fisher and The John West Bear viral. Both brilliant but also simple.

Also from a financial perspective it would seem to be bad business to invest in making something with little guarantee of any return - there were over 5000 entries in this competition. Although it must be said the prize structure is generous and starts at the semi finalist stage (top 30) It also offers the opportunity for some unprecedented exposure - the top 2 winners going live at the Superbowl.

Previous winners have produced some really great spots too. Easily up there with a traditional broadcast advert in terms of quality and idea. Last years winner, a film maker, spent $300 but that obviously didn't include equipment, cast and crew etc. As well as the payday it also got him lots of work. Of course he could quite easily not have won and all that effort would have been in vein.

So are these just for those with little experience who need to show what they can do ? Surely If you're experienced you've already proven yourself, you're out there working for a living, so why would you enter something like this? True. But then if you work in a creative industry, unless you are right at the top, you are constantly having to prove yourself, whether it's pitching, doing treatments or being judged on your last piece of work. So is something like this competition, with a pretty open brief with lots of scope and a very decent prize, not a bad thing for stretching yourself creatively and seeing what you can do?

Be interested to hear people thoughts on this?

As for my entry. Pleased to say it has reached the semi finals, whether it goes any further who knows. It cost me less then a £5 and I made it completely myself over a spare weekend on a Canon 5D..

If interested you can see it here. Be great to hear any feedback on this too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X96RjH8WC5o

4 Comments

I think of it as an exploitation of talent and people in somewhat dire situations. It perfectly exemplifies our current state of the economy, tons of folks fighting for a few scraps.

I've long ago decided to never take part in such a contest. And I urge everyone else to do the same. We're gutting our own fertile grounds for income and are only helping the brand make money.

It's shit.

December 8, 2014 at 8:45PM, Edited December 8, 8:45PM

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Elias Ressegatti
Director
270

I think you are right: it works both ways: it can be good for someone with time to kill to make something and maybe get noticed. On the other hand: these contests are like a middleman getting all these free ideas to choose from and sell it to the brand as a big big candyshop, while only a few are rewarded for their effort. This effort is not just a pitch, but a complete production...

I guess it can be a fun challenge to give it a try sometimes, but in the long run it isn't viable business for the participants, unless you win or build a strong portfolio that does land you great gigs.

It's a strange thing, this internet: it cuts the middleman (shops) in a lot of cases and at the same time it creates new middlemen for (creative) services...

December 9, 2014 at 4:54AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8958

They are good. Force you to build an audience to search founding.

January 22, 2015 at 4:45AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7599

"From a content creators perspective I haven't been a big fan of crowdsourcing platforms or competitions, mainly as they seemingly commoditize content, promote a race to the bottom in terms of budgets, take advantage of film makers and, from a financial perspective, are not viable to running a business." I think you said it best, and I wholeheartedly agree.

January 22, 2015 at 5:21PM

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