Mofilm goes “pro” and shifts focus away from video contests

The video contest landscape just got a little smaller.  Last week Mofilm officially announced a change that has been in the works for years; the company is getting out of the video contest business.  After Poptent collapsed, Mofilm was briefly the biggest and best video contest site on the web.  At their peak, they were running dozens of video contests at a time.  Usually these contests would all be tied to a specific, global event like Cannes or Lollapalooza.  Big brands like Pepsi and Walmart would run commercial contests and the winners got big cash prizes.  But they’d also win trips to the event that was tied to the contest.  So for example, if you won a contest that was tied to the Las Vegas film fest, Mofilm would send you to vegas to attend the fest.  On top of that, you’d also go to a ceremony where you’d receive a trophy for your work.

These events were amazing but I guess they were also pretty expensive.  About two years ago, I noticed that the number of fest/event assignments was shrinking.  I realized that something was up last year when they even skipped their annual Chicago/Lollapalooza contests.  By January of this year, there were barely and contest briefs on the site.  And now they’re officially gone for good.

The site is still chock-full of opportunities to make ads.  But almost all of the current assignments are labeled as “pro”.  What does that mean?  Well it means that Mofilm is basically just a middleman/production company now.  Brands post briefs for commercials or videos that they need.  Then filmmakers submit ideas and pitches.  The brand picks the team that they like and then they pay them to do the work.

The new process shaves tens of thousands of dollars off the Mofilm experience.  Brands no longer have to pay for prizes for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th place.  And they also don’t have to pay for trips to Barcelona or South Africa.

I’m not surprised that Mofilm made this change because they clearly had a set of favorite filmmakers.  There was a line-up of about 15 directors that just kept winning prizes over and over and over.  I once went to an event and talked to some Mofilm winners that were complaining about how exhausting it was to go on so many free trips.  I remember one of the rattling off a list of all the cities he “had to” go to that year because of Mofilm.

So if the same teams win all the time, why not just go pro and make the process a whole lot easier?

Because this move is going to kill the site, that’s why.  Poptent did the exact same thing and the decision wound up destroying the company.  I don’t understand why Mofilm didn’t learn from Poptent’s mistake.  Video contests attract fresh, new filmmakers.  Most of them never win anything but every once in a while you wind up with a new super-winner.  Going “pro” basically puts a wall around the community.  Brands will want to work with filmmakers who already have a strong track record.  The gate keepers won’t let in the weirdos and wiz kids that create memorable, fun, out of the box content.  So the videos that come out of these assignments will feel safe and lame.  Eventually, Mofilm’s favorite filmmakers will use their beefy new reels to get work on their own but no one will be left to replace those directors because everybody else gave up on Mofilm because their pitches were never selected.  So if you want to submit some pitches, I’d do it sooner rather than later.  I’ll be surprised if the company is still up and running this time next year.