Filmmakers Beware: TheAudienceAwards.com wants you to PAY to enter their video contests

Suckers Welcome.
Suckers Welcome.

So far the new video contest site, TheAudienceAwards.com has failed to catch on with filmmakers.  Most of their contests have had small prize pools and received only a handful of entries.  For example, their recent “Webisodes” contest offered just $600 in prizes and only 5 people bothered to enter.  One of TAA’s biggest competitions to date was for Hilton’s Home2 Suites.  $17,000 was at stake but only 37 entries were submitted.  And a lot of those entries are kind of fishy….I think the folks behind TAA may have enlisted friends to make some quick and sloppy entries just to make the contest look more popular.  (Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.)

I think TAA’s main problem is that their system is kind of confusing.  Some winners are picked by a panel of judges and some winners are picked via an online vote.  Some prizes are paid out in cash and other prizes are paid out in mysterious “site credits.”  And even though the contests are open to the public, sometimes entries might be rejected if the “quality of content” is too low.  But the craziest and weirdest thing about TAA is that some contests are free to enter but others are not.  Check out the details for TAA’s new “Filmmaker Tips” video contest:
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DIY-contest

So TAA wants you to create video content for them on spec and then PAY for the opportunity to have it judged.  (I wonder if you get your $10 back if your work is rejected when you first try and upload it.)  I thought that maybe this DIY contest was an aberration but then I realized that the Site Credit prizes are supposed to be used to pay future entry fees!  I poked around the site and found a few more contests that also have entry fees:
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The Reel Pitch Trailer Challenge.  Deadline:  July 4th, 2016.  Entry Fee:  $30

2016 Music Film & Video Contest.  Deadline:  May 17, 2016.  Entry Fee:  $15

Wild and Green Short Films.  Deadline:  April 18th, 2016.  Entry Fee:  $10

Anime Shorts Contest.  Deadline:  April 25, 2016.  Entry Fee:  $25
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I don’t know for sure why TAA charges entry fees but I think it’s because the company has connections to the world of Film Festivals.  In fact, it seems like they’re trying to get film fests to use the TAA platform to run their competitions.  But Film Festivals charge entry fees because most of them are are not-for-profit.  So the fees help cover the events’ costs.  But I’ve looked all over TAA’s website and I didn’t see the words “non-profit” anywhere.  In fact, the folks in charge of The Audience Awards are actively trying to recruit companies (and not film fests) that will “pay” to run contests on their platform.

Frankly, I don’t care why TAA is trying to charge people to enter their contests.  The reasons don’t really matter.  Let me say this loud bold and clear:  Under no circumstances should you ever pay a fee to enter a video contest.  It is unethical and inappropriate.  For-Profit companies should not be charging you to create content on spec.  I’ve only seen a few other companies try and do something like this but TAA is definitely the most egregious offender I’ve ever come across.  That Anime Shorts contest I just listed has a grand prize of just $300!  It takes a lot of nerve to ask filmmakers to pay $25 to have a shot at winning $300.  Obviously the sponsors of this contest are probably expecting people to submit material that already exists.  But it still feels like a scam, doesn’t it?  (Maybe that’s why the contest has only received one entry so far.)  And if a contest looks like a scam and feels like a scam, it’s probably a scam.  After all, if a website is so desperate for cash that they NEED everyone to kick in $15, do you really think they’re going to pay up when you win?