Tongal and Project Greenlight Digital Studios want to produce the next great animated series

Hot news from Tongal:  Project Greenlight Digital Studios and Tongal are teaming up to find and produce the “next great animated series.”  Right now they’re looking for an original concept that can be developed into a new show.  The judges are looking for “unforgettable characters, fun conflict, compelling storylines, engaging worlds, and clever points of view.”  Translation:  They want to create the next Rick & Morty.  God bless them.  Here’s the fine print:

Now through December 14, submit your idea in a one-to-three minute pitch video. Five finalists will be selected and awarded $5,000 each to create a “proof of concept” based on their original animated series idea. The public will have a chance to vote for the winning idea on, along with a panel of industry judges. The creator of the winning series idea will then receive $70,000 to produce an 11-minute pilot episode based on their concept.

To submit a pitch, head here:

Tongal and LucasFilm want you to #GoRogue and shoot your own Star Wars stories


I got my first video camera back in the mid-90’s.  It was already dark when we got back from Circuit City (R.I.P.) so I couldn’t go outside and film anything.  So I went through my old toy box and pulled out my original Return of the Jedi action figures.  I tried to make a stop motion scene that featured The Rancor and a Gamorrean Guard but of course it didn’t turn out.  I guess the failure really affected me because that was the first and last time I ever tried to make a Star Wars-themed video.  I wish I had kept at it; if I had, maybe I’d already have a decent entry for LucasFilm’s new “Go Rogue” UGC fan film contest.

The winners of this contest will get to live my wildest dreams and visit LucasFilm’s HQ in San Francisco.  They’ll also get to see their work on the big screen (plus an advanced showing of Rogue One.)  Before the contest was launched the sponsors actually teamed up with Tongal and had them create a series of videos that would inspire other contestants:

“In a celebration of UGC fan creativity, Lucasfilm and creative network Tongal have collaborated with a team of fans to create a series of stop-motion shorts all featuring the debut of key Rogue One products.”

The stop-motion in the Tongal films is really amazing.  I wish my Rancor fight scenes had been this smooth:

Here’s some more background on the contest, i.e. Tongal’s involvement.

The fan-made series debuting Rogue One toys brings together characters and vehicles from Hasbro, The LEGO Group, FUNKO, JAKKS Pacific, Mattel, and Disney Store as they try to track down the building instructions to the LEGO Star Wars Death Star set which have been misplaced by the Empire. The creative team was led by James DeJulio at Tongal, and the series was written by Kevin Ulrich and brought to life by stop-motion animators and directors Dan MacKenzie and Tucker Barrie. New installments will roll out throughout September.

“I’ve been a Star Wars fan my whole life so this is a dream project,” said James DeJulio, co-founder of Tongal. “It’s been amazing to see what an inspiration Star Wars has been to so many members of our creative community, whether that’s coming up with their own Star Wars storylines, or playing out scenes with Star Wars toys at home with their kids. I’m excited to share this first ‘Rogue Story’ with the world and hope it inspires other fans to share theirs.”

So are you feeling inspired?  If you are, you better finish your wookie suit ASAP because entries are due October 21st.  For more details, head here:

Paqui Chips launches the most dangerous video contest of all time


Back in 2012 I almost died while shooting an entry for a video contest sponsored by Charles Shawab.  I was filming inside a poorly-ventilated bouncy castle in the middle of July and the thing pretty much turned into an oven.  Even though I was over-heating I wanted to finish my shoot so I kept bouncing and filming.  After a few minutes I started to get dizzy and I realized I couldn’t stand up anymore.  I laid down and could barely move.  I was all alone and there was no reason for anyone to check on me.  I knew that if I didn’t crawl out the escape tunnel in the next few minutes I’d pass out and probably die.  Even though it would have been a hilarious and totally appropriate fate, I didn’t want to be the first person to die while shooting a video contest entry.  So pulled myself to the exit and managed to squirm out the kid-sized porthole.

And (spoiler alert) I lived.  (And I won the contest’s $10K grand prize!)  Which means that do this day, no one has ever died while filming a video contest entry.  But that may soon change thanks to Paqui Chips!  Paqui makes “gourmet tortilla chips” and ridiculously hot chips are their specialty.  The company’s new Carolina Reaper chips are apparently made with the spiciest pepper in the world.  These things are so hot that Paqui only sells one of them at a time.  Eating a Reaper chip is pretty much like getting pepper sprayed right in the mouth.  So of course the company wants people to film themselves while they eat one for the first time…..

I’m surprised that Paqui’s lawyers ok’d the #ONECHIPCHALLENGE because eating super-hot peppers can be really dangerous.  Although it’s unlikely, the Carolina Reaper Pepper is so hot that it could cause serious side effects…like death.  I don’t want to bum you out so I won’t post any links, but if you check google you’ll find some stories about people who died from eating (non-reaper) hot peppers or hot pepper sauce.  (They’re especially dangerous for small kids).  So pepper-related tragedies do happen every once in a while.

But one little chip probably won’t trigger any fatal heart attacks.  Still….you’d have to be at least a little crazy to enter this contest.  The grand prize is a year supply of (regular) chips and a nee GoPro Hero4 Silver.  So that’s a lot of risk for a medium-sized reward.

Now having said all that….I think I’m going to enter!  I mean hey, why not?  If that bouncy castle couldn’t kill me, one chip’s not going to do me in.  Plus I’d love to get a new GoPro.  And everyone who enters gets a free bag of chips!  So if you’re feeling as bold and as stupid as me, click here more details about the contest:


Zing Toys announces another huge Stikbot stop-motion contest



If you’re a 10 year old boy, or if you’ve ever been forced to have a conversation with a 10 year old boy, you probably know what Stikbots are.  They’re little toy robots with pose-able arms and legs.  They’re specifically designed so that kids can use them to make stop-motion videos.  The toys are crazy popular and Youtube is filled with hundreds of kid-made Stikbot animations.  Last fall the company that makes Stikbots (Zing Toys) held it’s first official video contest.  The competition as a hit so Zing ran another one a few months ago.  The $15,000 grand prize attracted a good number of grown-up filmmakers and the sponsors received some really great entries.  And one of those entries was mine!  It was a close race but in the end, my entry managed took home the grand prize.

I guess Zing was really happy with the 2nd contest because they’ve already announced a 3rd one.  This time the grand prize is $10,000 but there are also prizes for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place that range from $4,000 to $1,000.  I had fun making my stop-motion video and I briefly considered entering again.  But it just seems kind of crappy to try and win the same contest twice in a row.  So I figured the least I could do is help promote the new contest.  This is a great one to enter because there’s no voting and most of the competitors will be young or new filmmakers.  So if you’re willing to put in a whole lot of time and a whole lot of hard work, I think you’ll have a good shot at making the finals.  Here are the videos that made the Top 3 in the first two contests.  My video is entitled “The Cave” and starts at the 4:38 mark.

The deadline for the new contest is November 30th.  If you’re going to create an entry, I suggest you focus on comedy and put A LOT of work into your script.  I think those are the two reasons that I won.  Also, be sure to follow the rules.  The entry that came in 2nd last time used non-Stikbot action figures like Spiderman and the Green Goblin.  That was technically against the rules and I was surprised that the entry didn’t get disqualified.  For more info about the new contest, head here:

Tongal wants to give you $119,000 to shoot a TV commercial for Seagram’s

Gotta drink 'em all! (responsibly)
Gotta drink ’em all! (responsibly)

I don’t usually post about individual Tongal projects but any contest with a six-figure prize pool is definitely newsworthy.  This week they launched the Seagram’s Escapes Video Project and it looks like it might just be the biggest video contest of the year.  (NOTE: Tongal doesn’t exactly run traditional “video contests” but their “projects” are close enough for me.)  Here’s a general recap of the contest project:

The goal of this project is to create a 30-second broadcast spot with a 15-second cut down for Seagram’s Escapes featuring singer, songwriter, actress Kelly Rowland.  Additionally, you will need to create 30-second broadcast spot along with a 15-second cut down, focused specifically on Jamaican Me Happy (Kelly Rowland will NOT appear in the Jamaican Me Happy video).

Got it?  One Tongal producer or team will create a 30 second commercial that features Kelly Rowland (one of Destiny’s Children!).  After that they will create a second, entirely new 30 second commercial for a specific Seagram’s flavor. Then the creator will provide 15-second cut downs for both ads.  So in total that’s two unique 30 second ads plus two short versions of those ads.

That’s a lot of work.  But trust me, Tongal is making it worth your while. Take a look at what this gig pays:


No, those aren’t typos.  One Tongal member is going to get paid $119,000 to produce these commercials.  That’s a serious mount of money so this project will probably attract a lot of heavy hitters.  I’m sure most of Tongal’s top tier winners will submit pitches.  But $119,000 might bring in a bunch of new producers.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the project was awarded to some mid-sized production company that came out of nowhere.  So if you’re an independent filmmaker and if you know a semi-established producer you may want to try teaming up with them.

Hardcore Tonglers may have noticed that this isn’t Tongal’s only active, big-money project.  Right now they are also running an assignment for Labatt beer entitled Cheers to Hockey.  The creator that lands that gig will get paid a total of $153,000!!!!

This is really exciting stuff and I hope we see more of these “Super-Projects” over on Tongal.  Right now they’re running the Idea Phase for the Seagram’s project but you can begin submitting pitches on August 5th. The Pitch Phase in the Labatt project is already open and runs until August 2nd.  Good luck folks.  If you win either of these projects, please save me a 12-pack!