Tongal’s Rock Stars converge in LA for the 4th annual Tongies!

Last week I awoke from my winter hibernation to travel to LA for Tongal’s annual award ceremony, the Tongies.  I always have fun at the Tongies but the team really knocked it out of the park this year.  The theme for 2017 was “Rock n’ Roll” and the nominees and guests really did get the full-on, rock star treatment.  We out-of-towners got to stay at the W hotel in Hollywood which was obviously very amazing.  But the hotel happened to be about 200 yards from the awards show venue so everyone was able to walk there in like 5 minutes.  And let me tell you something, if you ever want to feel like an actual rock star, I recommend you walk out of the W hotel and then head down Hollywood Boulevard in a tuxedo.  Everyone does a double-take as you walk by.  You can see from their faces that they’re thinking “ok, that’s got to be somebody, right?”

One of the great things about The Tongies is that the festivities are actually spread over two days.  My girlfriend, Carla, and I arrived in LA on Wednesday afternoon.  Then we went straight to The Grove to have tacos with a friend at a place named Loteria Grill (try the red snapper tacos!)  On the way out we saw Guy Fieri filming a cooking segment at an outdoor restaurant that was not a Drive-In, a Diner, or a Dive.  Then on the Lyft ride back to the W, Doug Benson walked right past our car at a red light.  Carla yelled some excited gibberish at him and he smiled and patiently listed to her gush about DLM.

On Wednesday night we were treated to a super-fab welcome party in Santa Monica.  Here are a few pics:

That’s me and my ladyfriend in her rock-STAR outfit.

I know it might seem weird that I took a picture of purple macaroons but those were some damn good macaroons.  And I’m a macaroon expert so I know what I’m talking about.  Seriously, we actually had lunch at the Grove just so we could stop at a popular macaroon shop.  (The ones at the welcome party were way better and not just because they didn’t cost $3 each.)

The next day we took it easy and explored West Hollywood.  (I found so much free drug paraphernalia!)  Even though the Tongies were happening 5 minutes away from the hotel, Carla and I were still about 20 minutes late.  So no one was there to scream for us as we walked down the red carpet.  But we still had plenty of time to drink and eat and drink and chit-chat and drink.  As we were sitting at our table I looked over towards the bar and saw a big, happy, familiar face.  It was Dan fucking Aykroyd; my goddamn comedy hero.  He was wearing a tuxedo and chatting up the girl manning the ice sculpture/shot luge like he owned the place.  I assumed he was an invited guest but it turns out, he wasn’t.  The Tongal top brass went and introduced themselves and polity asked what the heck he was doing there.  D.A. said that he actually DID own a piece of the place and he had noticed that Tongal had booked the space for three years in a row.  I guess he looked up the company and liked what he read because he decided to stop by and show his support.  He even asked if he could say a few words to the crowd.  When Mr. A got on stage, he gave a genuinely exciting speech about filmmaking and the need to respect creatives.  (He also plugged his Skull Head vodka but I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t.)

The non-Aykroyd events that night were also pretty fun and exciting.  The show opened with a totally bananas contortionist act and ended with a performance by pretty much the best Led Zeppelin tribute band in the country.  In between there were lots and lots of awards.  As always, the videos that won Tongies were all brilliant and/or beautiful and/or funny.  You can watch all the winning entries here:

And now for more pictures!

So as you can see, a wonderful time was had by all.  As always I had a I’d like to thank all the amazing people at Tongal who made this whole thing possible.  (They know who they are!)  You are now and forever shall be my favorite online crowd-sourced video platform.  Rock on my friends….rock on.

See you in 2017 – although probably a lot less

I think we can all agree that 2016 sucked nuts and that we’re all happy that it’s over.  But on a personal level, 2016 was one of the best years of my life.  I was crazy busy this year and some of you may have noticed that I’ve been blogging a lot less.  Well, I hate to say it but I think the time has come for me to retire (or at least mostly retire) from VCN.  I started this site back in September of 2009 and I feel like 7 years is a pretty respectable lifespan for a goofy wordpress blog.  Right now I have no plans to shut down the site so it should still be here for a few more years.  But as of January 1, you won’t see many new articles from me.  I might blog every once in a while if I get really worked up about something but those posts will be few and far between.

If you’re a long-time reader of Video Contest News, I’d like to thank you for your time and interest.  (Even tough I’m retiring from this site, I’m going to continue entering video contests.  So you never know, you might wind up competing against me some time.)  I’d also like to thank all the companies that have sponsored VCN over the years, especially Tongal and Mofilm.  Both of those websites are incredibly awesome and their staffs really understand filmmakers and their needs.

One final thought; I wouldn’t mind passing this blog along to some other video contest addict.  So if anyone out there is interested in taking over VCN, let me know!

Good luck and happy new year to all!

-Dan L.


Doritos won’t air any ads during Super Bowl LI

Last fall, Frito-Lay announced that they’d be retiring the Crash the Super Bowl contest after the 2016 Super Bowl.  That left a lot of people (ok, mostly me and a bunch of marketing nerds) wondering what kind of ads Doritos would air during the 2017 game.  It turns out that the answer is “none.”  The company has decided to totally sit out Super Bowl LI….presumably because “Super Bowl LI” is such a dumb name.  Hey NFL, bring back the X’s and V’s!  Whoa…I just realized something; the Super Bowl will have an “L” as one of its roman numerals for like the next 40 years.  That’s weird.  Well anyway, here’s Variety had to say about Doritos’ decision:

Super Bowl viewers won’t have ads for Frito-Lay chips and snacks to munch on during Super Bowl commercial breaks in 2017.

The PepsiCo-owned maker of Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos and Sun Chips, among other salty favorites, said it would not run an ad in Fox’s broadcast of Super Bowl LI in February of next year, with a spokesperson noting the gridiron classic “did not fit with our marketing plans.” The departure takes place after the company announced that Super Bowl 50 would feature its last “Crash the Super Bowl” contest. For a decade, the company solicited Doritos commercials from amateur filmmakers  and put the best of them up alongside Super Bowl ad giants like Bud Lite and Coca Cola.

I wonder if Frito-Lay made this decision before or after they ended the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  If the company originally planned to air some ads in 2017, their marketing team and/or ad agency would have been under a lot of pressure to deliver something amazing.  You can’t run consumer-generated ads for 9 years and then stop just to air something lame and cheesy that cost 1,000 times more to produce.  So maybe they wanted to run some commercials this year but they just couldn’t come up with any decent ideas.  But I’d day it’s more likely that they just needed a gap year while they plan to re-boot their Super Bowl identity.




Penguin Dry Ice’s Halloween video contest winners are #frightfullycool

If you were to make a list of the Top 50 things that I love, Halloween would rank #16 and Video Contests would rank somewhere in the low 20’s.  That might sound surprising for a guy who runs a website about video contests but keep in mind that my list would include things like cookies (#8), my loved ones (#1-5), and hilarious cat videos (#14).  So Halloween and Video Contests are a big part of my life.  Every fall search the web for new Halloween-themed video contests that I can enter but unfortunately, they’re not as popular as you’d think.  I’ve found and entered a few of them but I’ve never been able to win one….until now!  Back in October I read about a photo & video contest that was being sponsored by Penguin Dry Ice.  I’ve always loved dry ice (#47 on my list) and I’ve bought many bricks of it over the years for Halloween parties and video projects.  So I really wanted to win this contest.  The sponsor wanted to see #frightfully Halloween displays that used dry ice.  There were a lot of great entries but I managed to win the $1,500 grand prize.  Here’s my submission:

I gotta say, I’m really proud of my little display.  It was actually kinda easy to set up.  I just bought some empty paint cans from Home Depot and spray painted them black.  Then I dribbled on florescent green paint and added some homemade florescent radiation stickers.  I turned on a pair of blacklights, put some green, battery-operated LED Christmas lights in some of the cans and then added some water and dry ice.

If you’d like to see the other photos and videos that won prizes, click here.