Video Contest News - Part 2 Video Contest News – Featuring News about Video Contests!

USC student uses stolen content to win $7,500 video contest prize

On April 3rd, the Milstein Family Foundation and the Israel Video Network announced the winners of the “Inspired by Israel” video contest.  For this contest, filmmakers from around the world were asked to create entertaining and informative videos about the state of Israel.  The $7,500 grand prize winner was a student from USC named Rachel L.  Here’s her entry:



That’s an amazing video and it genuinely deepened my knowledge of, and respect for, Israel.  But there’s a big problem with the entry.  The “filmmaker” didn’t actually make any of the film.  Except for a few graphics, it looks like all of the video was taken from new stories and other sources.  Even the music (One Call Away by Charlie Puth) was presumably used without permission.  The rules were very clear that the entries could only include original, non-copyrighted material:

VIDEO REQUIREMENTS:

Videos must contain only original material. Submissions cannot contain copyrighted music or images, unless they have authorization of proof to use them or they fall under generally accepted fair use guidelines. When filming people, participants must ensure the subjects have given their consent. By submitting a video to this contest you affirm that no copyright law has been infringed on.

I guess an argument could be made that this entry constitutes “fair use” but that argument would simply be incorrect.  You can’t just take existing works and cut them together to create a new work, even if that new work is a documentary.  The accepted (but unofficial) fair use guidelines state that existing works must be credited and used sparingly.  But even if the judges did feel that this was fair use, there’s zero chance in the world that the winner tried to get the consent of any of the people (especially those that were sick, trapped or suffering) that were featured in this video.

So even though this entry was really, really good, the judges should have booted it from the competition.  I didn’t enter this particular contest but I’ve lost plenty of prizes to filmmakers who should have been disqualified.  But when that happens, I never get mad at the winning contestants.  My rule is “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”  In this particular case, Rachel L. took a gamble and guess what, it paid off.  It’s not her fault the judges decided to throw their own rules out the window.  So keep that in mind the next time you get screwed out of a prize.  You can be mad at the judges, but don’t hate on the winner.  Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

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Doritos debuts the winner of their Dinamita ad challenge

The Crash the Super Bowl contest may be dead but Frito-Lay is still running commercial contests via their Legion of the Bold platform.  Last week they debuted the winner of one of their biggest contests to date, the Create A Dinamita Spot challenge.  Here’s how the LOTB described the contest:

This entire thing started over two months ago when we asked Legion of the Bold for ideas. Then we selected three bold ideas. Then we asked you all to pitch us your vision. Then we selected 3 Legion members to go make those spots.

Holy sh*t, wait a second…this all sounds really familiar.  Is it possible that Frito-Lay just ripped off Tongal’s 3-phase, contest model?  Tongal was running idea, pitch and video phases long before LOTB ever existed.  This Dinamita contest even had a “wildcard” element; three pitch winners were guaranteed to receive prizes (in addition to their production grants) but one of the four prizes was set aside for a “wildcard” video that anyone could shoot on spec.  That is EXACTLY how things work over at Tongal.

Ok, I’m going to stew on all this and do some digging.  For now let’s get back to the Dinamita contest.  Here’s the entry that won the grand prize.  The sponsor must like it because they’re already running it as a web ad.  In the last week, it’s been viewed more than 800,000 times on Facebook alone.

First Place Winner.  Prize:  $15,000:

The other three winners in this contest also received some pretty big prizes.  Second place got $12K, third got $10K and 4th got $7.5K.  To see all the winning videos, head here:  https://www.doritoslegionofthebold.com/assignments/28/ideas

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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?

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Frito-Lay wants you to break some crazy Doritos-themed world records

I think the folks over at Frito-Lay were getting pretty sick of the Crash the Super Bowl contest.  Those poor people have been watching cheesy homemade ads about Doritos-loving zombies, dogs and ninjas for almost ten years.  The marketing team must have been dying to make a change because the company started promoting Doritos NEW crowdsourcing initiative a few hours before The Crash actually came to an end.  On Super Bowl Sunday, Doritos hoisted a bunch of football fans 137 feet in the air in front of Levi’s Stadium so that they could break set the world record for the “Highest Suspended Football Party.”



This ridiculous exciting stunt was the official kick-off of Doritos’ new BIG BOLD 50 campaign.  For the next 11 months, the company will help fans break set 50 crazy, Dorito-themed world records.  The whole thing is meant to celebrate Doritos’ 50th anniversary.  Via the sponsor:

“50 years of DORITOS means 50 DORITOS World Records.  We call this celebration Bold 50.  Because when DORITOS does anniversaries, we do them BIG and BOLD.”

“Doritos will create new records for consumers to break, such as the highest location from which to eat Doritos chips or building the tallest house of cards using Doritos chips”

I keep saying that Doritos fans will “set” rather than break these records because obviously these records are all made up.  That’s probably why the people over at Guinness aren’t involved in this.  All of these chip-themed records will be verified by the website RecordSetter.com.

Bold 50 has been up and running for almost two months but very few details have been released yet.  The website is pretty empty and it doesn’t explain how you can break the records or what you’ll receive if you do.  But there is a radically BOLD form you can fill out if you’d like to receive super extreme updates about future record contests:  https://www.doritosbold50.com

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Facebook is letting people “steal” millions of video views from other content creators

Facebook sucks.  We all realize that by now, right?  It was fun for a while but then all of my aunts and uncles sent me friend requests and the site started shoving ads and auto-play videos into my news feed and the whole place went to hell.  If you need one more reason to dislike the social media giant, watch this amazing video by Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell.  It does an incredible job of explaining and illustrating a really shitty Facebook trend; members are stealing other people’s funny or interesting web videos and then re-uploading them to their own facebook page to get ad revenue or social activity.  (Pages that put out content that get a lot of Likes, Shares, Comments and Views are preferred by facebook’s algorithms so posts from that page appear in more news feeds.)



The team behind this video has done a ton of great, informative videos and you should check out their channel if you wan to learn more about black holes, the Ebola Virus, Nuclear Power and the End of the Universe.

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Tongal’s Superstars converge in Hollywood for the 3rd annual Tongie awards!

tongies0

For the third year in a row I was lucky enough to get an invite to Tongal’s annual award ceremony in LA and for the third year in a row I had a damn good time.  I got back on Saturday but as always it took me a few days to recuperate from my trip.  I’ve finally started going through my photos and this year I’ve got some great ones to share.

The festivities started on Wednesday at the Tongie’s Eve Cocktail party in Santa Monica.  My girlfriend Carla and I showed up a little late and as we were walking up to the venue we could hear someone singing an Everclear song in the patio area.  Carla asked, “so is this like a karaoke party? Whoever’s singing sounds really good.”  But of course it wasn’t a karaoke party.  We walked into the patio and up on stage was the lead singer of Everclear, Art Alexakis doing an acoustic set for about 200 very surprised guests.  (Here’s a pic).  After we soaked in the scene, I managed to find and say hello to some of my favorite Tonglers and Tongal staff members.  I learned the hard way that you shouldn’t over-do it at the Wednesday night reception (last year I decided to try all of the custom cocktails and my brain was a little fuzzy the next day) so Carla and I slipped out before it got too late.

On Thursday we took a trip to the LACMA, had lunch (and pudding) from some food trucks and picked up my tux.  We did a quick change back at the hotel and then we inched our way through LA traffic to get to the awards dinner at the Avalon in Hollywood. 

The show started with a surprise aerial act.  It was a big hit and it really got people amped up for the show.  This kind of spectacle was a good fit and I hope Tongal does some more crazy stuff like this next year.

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As always, the event was MC’ed by Tongal co-founder, Rob Salvatore….

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…and individual awards were handed out by various staff members.  Here’s Tongal co-founder Mark Burrell reading the nominees for best comedy video.

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The winners were….Pretty Nifty Productions.

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After about half an hour it was time for a dessert/cocktail/photo break.  Here I am posing with my lovely lady friend….

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And here’s friend of VCN, Joel Levinson with his wife Randy.

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I managed to make some new friends this time around including these two guys; Eric McCoy and Justus Meyer.  Their Tongal team “McCoy Meyer” was nominated in the Best Comedy category.  This guys do amazing work and right now the Devin Kurtz music video they made is spreading all over the web.  You know you’ve hit the big time when even Perez Hilton is saying your work is awesome.

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Here’s a shot of the theater just before everyone went back to your seats. The place is huge and I’m still kind of amazed that Tongal would rent out such a baller venue.

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Here’s a shot of all the Tongalers that were inducted into the Tongal hall of fame this year.

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The crowd gave the inductees a standing ovation but one dude at the table next to mine gave me a smirky stink eye when I tried to get a pic of the crowd. Frankly, I don’t blame him.

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The party continued after the awards ceremony ended.  Here’s a semi-blurry shot of Tongal’s three co-founders, Mark Burrell, Rob Salvatore and James DeJulio as they introduce a surprise musical guest, guitar legend Johnny Marr of The Smiths.

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As I’ve said, I’ve been to the Tongies three times now and Johnny Marr put on the best post-ceremony show yet.

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Up near the front of the venue, folks were cramming together to get their picture taken at the digital photo booth.

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And the winners showed off their new hardware. Here’s “Best Idea” winner, Tina Radel with her new Tongie.

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The “Best Comedy” winners, Pretty Nifty Productions went on to be named the Tonglers of the Year.  After they got their awards, a rep from Mastercard (they’re a To gal partner) came out on stage and surprised the guys with a trip to Japan.

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CLINK!

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On our way out we were given weird cardboard viewer-dealies that you can stick a smart phone into. Carla was good enough to demonstrate how they work.

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So that’s it; another Tongies is in the books. As always the show was a big success and I personally had a great time. I’d like to thank all my friends at Tongal for being such amazing hosts.  And I’d like to extend a special thank you and congrats to Tongal’s Senior VP of Creative and Strategy, Caleb Light-Wills.  Caleb was hard at work behind the scenes so I didn’t get any shots of him…which is a shame because at one point he was walking around carrying a giant manatee.  Yes, seriously.

If you’ve made it all the way down to the bottom of this post and you’ve still got Tongie fever, head here to watch all the videos that were honored this year:  https://tongal.com/tongies

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