A youtuber explains “Why I Won’t Buy a New Camera”

I went to film school for about a year and I really disliked the whole experience.  It was a grad program so I was expecting everyone to have a rich and deep love and understating for the art of filmmaking.  But I was surprised by how clueless so many of the students and staff members were.  I learned more about production and storytelling back in community college than I did during my (ridiculously expensive) two semesters at a “real’ film school.  One thing that really bothered me was that many of the students were obsessed with using the “best” camera equipment to make 5 minute shorts that no one outside of class was going to see. To me it seemed pretty obvious that the people complaining about our cameras clearly had no idea what the heck they were talking about.  Some random person had told them that camera X was better than camera Y so they had to use Camera X otherwise their whole project would be a waste of time.  I also noticed that none of these people actually knew how to shoot anything themselves.  They relied totally on their DPs and never bothered to learn how to light or shoot their own scenes.

I think about my time at film school every fall as the Crash the Super Bowl contest approaches.  People start emailing me and ask if they should spend thousands of dollars to buy or rent the hot new camera.  They assume that a high quality video will improve their chances of making the finals.  But camera quality isn’t what wins the Doritos contest.  A great story and good VIDEO QUALITY are what matters.  And if you know what you’re doing, you can get great Video Quality out of most any modern HD camera.

My little rant today is inspired by a youtube video I just watched.  In it, a filmmaker artfully explains why he’s going to put his money into his short film rather than into some new gear:
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That video comes from the youtube channel DSLRGuide.  They’ve got some interested tutorials and stuff on there and I suggest you check out their work.

Deadline Day has passed; time to send me your Crash the Super Bowl entries!

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I can’t believe another Crash the Super Bowl submission period has come and gone.  This whole contest blew right by me this year.  I had been thinking about shooting an entry this year but I never got around to it.  But that’s probably for the best since I enjoy the contest a lot more when I’m just an impartial observer.

It will be a few days before all the last minute submissions appear in the CTSB gallery and it will probably be a few weeks before FritoLay announces how many entries they received this year.  I’ve only watched a handful of submissions so I don’t know if they were getting a lot of entries or if any of them were any good.  So how about you guys help me out and send me some videos to watch?  In keeping with my annual tradition, I am inviting anyone and everyone to post a link to their entry in the comment section below.  Not only will I watch your ad, I will post a short review for free.  You can also post any great commercials you find that you think may have a chance of winning.  But I can’t review someone else’s work for you.  I will only do a review if you were actually involved in the production of the entry you post.

This offer is always pretty popular and every fall I find myself swamped with entries.  So this year I have to put a firm deadline on the offer; if you want your free review, you have to post your link by November 20th.  After that, I’ll write a new post and share some of the best ads I’ve seen.  This post will probably get pushed down by new blog entries before November 20th but even if this post isn’t at the top of the page you can still share your work.

Oh there’s just one more thing.  I lied when I said I’d do all the reviews for free.  I do accept tips.  And by tips I mean twitter followers.  So here’s the catch: if you want me to review your entry, you first have to follow me on twitter.  Hey as a bonus, I’ll even follow you back:  https://twitter.com/Dan_VCN

Ok?  Alright, let’s do this.  Click the VIEW COMMENTS button and send me your entries!

UPDATE:  The comment section of this post is already starting to get a little confusing.  So here’s what I’m going to do; I am going to edit the TIME of my reviews so that they will automatically appear right after the review request.  So if you submit your link, come back in a few hours and and look for your original comment.  My review will be right underneath it. 

How much should you spend on your 2015 Crash the Super Bowl entry?

The 8th installment of Doritos’ annual Crash the Super Bowl commercial contest is now officially open and accepting submissions.  But you don’t need to run out and film your ad this weekend.  The deadline is still 54 days away.  That means there are eight saturdays and 8 sundays between now and 11:59PM CT on November 9th.  There are no advantages to being the first person to submit an entry; in fact, it seems like most of the winners submit their videos at the last minute.  So if you’re planning to enter the contest this year you should slow down and take a few weeks to carefully plan your production.

After you come up with an idea you’ll need to decide what your budget is going to be.  When you do, keep in mind that the goal here is to create a commercial good enough to air on TV.  The reality of the Crash the Super Bowl contest is that most of the “fan-made” ads that reach the finals were created by professional or semi-professional producers, directors, cinematographers and editors.  Every once in a while a true low-budget filmmaker will make it to the SuperBowl.  For example in 2012, “Man’s Best Friend” made the CTSB finals, won the online vote, aired during the super bowl and won the one million dollar USA Today Ad Meter bonus despite the fact that it only cost $20 to produce:

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Unfortunately, this is a better example of the type of video that typically makes the finals:

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Sling Baby” made the top five the same year as Man’s Best Friend.  A few days after the Super Bowl, the ad won an online poll (that looked rather easy to manipulate) so it also earned a Million Dollar bonus.  As you can probably tell, this was no “amateur” production.  It was created by a team of professional filmmakers in LA and cost $2,700 to produce.  Here’s a full crew list that I pulled from the old “Vote For Sling Baby” website:

DIRECTOR – Kevin T. Willson
EXEC. PRODUCER – Jeff Edwards
EXEC. PRODUCER – Dan McNeely
PRODUCER – Jason Dennis
WRITERS – Kevin T. Willson, Grant Nieporte, Sean Gaffney, Kevin Chesley
1ST AD – Heather Chalecki
2ND AD – Andy Peters
DP – Bernard Evans
1st AC – Jacqueline Stahl
1st AC – Trevor Smith
2nd AC – Dustin Miller
MEDIA MANAGER – Shane Sorenson
GAFFER – Edwin Kim
KEY GRIP – Becky Train
GRIP/ELECTRIC – Tyler Shaw
GRIP/ELECTRIC – Jay Castillo
GRIP/ELECTRIC – John Christensen
GRIP/ELECTRIC – Armando Crespo
ART DIRECTOR – Jalisco Wayne
SOUND MIXER – Matt Burgette
WARDROBE – Kristina Van Dyk
HAIR/MAKEUP – Amber Rae
STUDIO TEACHER – Kim Clifton
STUNT COORDINATOR – Ian Eyre
LOCATION – Ian Eyre
P.A./BTS – Tory Nelson
P.A. – Patrick Phillips
BTS – – David Reynosa
EDITOR – Bob Perkins
VFX – Justin Folk
SOUND DESIGN – Bob Perkins, Justin Folk
COLOR CORRECTION – Blacklist Productions
CASTING DIRECTOR – Sarah Domeier
SOCIAL MEDIA – Nate Daniels
ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEY – Samuel Curphy
ON SET PHOTOGRAPHY – Jonathan Bell

Frito-Lay will probably receive around 5,000 submissions to the CTSB contest but I’m guessing only a handful will have one Production Assistant on their crew list, let alone two.  The marketing team behind The Crash enthusiastically push the idea that any “average joe” with a funny idea can win this contest.  But 9 years of history show us that this just isn’t the case.  Even the guy who shot “Man’s Best Friend” for $20 was a professional filmmaker who already owned all the equipment he needed to produce his ad.  And if you think that $2,700 is a lot of money to spend on a video contest entry, I have some bad news for you; Sling Baby‘s budget was actually kind of small.  The director of that ad, Kevin Willson has managed to make the finals 4 times now and some of his other entries cost upwards of $5,000.  (Including the 2014 runner-up, “Cowboy Kid.“)

When Doritos announces their picks for the finals in January they usually distribute an electronic press kit to the media that includes the budget for all the selected submissions.  Here now are the five 2014 finalists and how much each ad cost to create:

TIME MACHINE. Budget: $300:


OFFICE THIEF. Budget: $1,500-2,000:


Breakroom Ostrich. Budget: $1,700:



COWBOY KID. Budget: $5,000:


FINGER CLEANER. Budget: $7,000 (U.S.):

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Even though Time Machine was the cheapest finalist of the bunch, it went on to win the million dollar grand prize.   However, that $300 price tag is a little misleading.  The director shot Time Machine with a 2.5K Black Magic Cinema Camera and two Rokinon Cinema Prime lenses.  That’s a very pricey set-up but it helped his “low budget” commercial look good enough to air on HD TVs all around the world.

Does this mean that only well-equipped, well-connected, properly-financed filmmakers have a shot an making the CTSB finals?  Well, I hate to say it but yeah….it pretty much does mean that.  The Super Bowl is the biggest TV event of the year.  Doritos isn’t going to pay three million dollars to run a 30-second ad that doesn’t look and sound professional.  It hasn’t happened in 9 years and it’s not going to happen in 2015.  That means that if you want to win this contest you’re going to need two things; a great idea AND the resources necessary to create a good-looking TV commercial.

The 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 Crash the Super Bowl finalists

If you want to win the Crash the Super Bowl contest you first need to understand what types of ads make the finals.  Doritos used to have all the past CTSB winners posted to a single youtube channel but for some dumb reason, those official videos have all been taken down.  So if you want to see all the winning ads you’re going to have to hunt for them all over youtube.  Or you could just scroll down because I did the hunting for you!  Links to every Doritos finalist from the past 7 years are below. I would have just embedded the videos but 35 embedded youtube videos in one post pretty much would crash my site.  So each ad is represented by a screenshot.  To watch the actual commercials, click on the images:
 

2012-2013 Doritos Finalists:

Goat 4 Sale by Ben Callner of Atlanta, GA
-Aired during the Super Bowl.

Goat 4 Sale
Goat 4 Sale

Fashionista Daddy by Mark Freiburger of Los Angeles, CA
-Aired during the Super Bowl.

Fashionista Daddy
Fashionista Daddy

Road Chip by Tyler Dixon of Los Angeles, CA
-Aired during the Super Bowl.

Road Chip
Road Chip

Express Checkout by Sasha Shemirani of San Diego, CA

Express Checkout
Express Checkout

Fetch by Joe Taranto of Los Angeles, CA

Fetch
Fetch

 

2011-2012 Doritos Finalists:

Man’s Best Friend by Jonathan Friedman of Virginia Beach, VA.
-Aired During the Super Bowl. WINNER: Million dollar USA Today ad meter bonus

Man’s Best Friend

Sling Baby by Kevin T. Willson of Los Angeles, CA.
-Aired During the Super Bowl. WINNER: Million dollar Facebook ad meter bonus

Sling Baby

Bird of Prey by Joby Harris of Los Angeles, CA.

Bird of Prey

Dog Park by Tyler Dixon of Liegh, UT.

Dog Park

Hot Wild Girls by Brad Scott of Denver, CO.

Hot Wild Girls

 

2010-2011 Doritos Finalists:

Pug Attack by JR Burningham of Burbank, CA.
-Aired during the Super Bowl. WINNER: Million dollar USA Today ad meter bonus.

Pug Attack

The Best Part by Tyler Dixon of Lehi, Utah.
-Aired during the Super Bowl.

The Best Part

Adam and Eve by Stephen Schuster of Topanga, CA.

Adam and Eve

Birthday Wish by Heather Kasprzak of Los Angeles, CA.

Birthday Wish

House Sitting by Tynesha Williams of Santa Monica, CA.
-Aired during the Super Bowl. WINNER: $400,000 ad meter bonus

House Sitting


2009-2010 Finalists:

Underdog by William Kyle Gerardi of Cary, NC.
-Aired during the Super Bowl. WINNER: $600,000 Ad Meter bonus.

Underdog

Snack Attack Samurai by Ben Krueger of Minneapolis, MN.
-Aired during the Super Bowl.

Snack Attack Samurai

The Smackout by Brendan Hayward of Santa Monica, CA.

The Smackout

Casket by Kevin Wilson of Whittier, CA.
-Aired during the Super Bowl.

Casket

House Rules by Joelle De Jesus of Los Angeles, CA.
-Aired during the Super Bowl.

House Rules

Kids These Days by Nick Dimondi of Cary, NC.

Kids These Days

 

2008-2009 Finalists:

Free Doritos by Joe Herbert of Batesville, IN.
-Aired during the Super Bowl. WINNER: Million dollar USA Today Ad meter bonus.

Free Doritos

New Flavor Pitch by Oren Brimer of New York, NY.

New Flavor Pitch

Power of the Crunch by Eric Heimbold of Venice, CA.
-Also aired During the Super bowl.

The Power of the Crunch

The Chase by Chris Roberts of Burbank, CA.

The Chase

Too Delicious by Michael Goubeaux of Los Angeles, CA.

Too Delicious

 

— 2007-2008: No Commercial contest —

 

2006-2007 Finalists:

Live the Flavor by Five Points Productions of Cary, NC.
-WINNER: Aired during the Super Bowl.

Live the Flavor

Check Out Girl by Kristin C. Dehnert of Los Angeles, CA.
-Also aired during the 2007 Super Bowl.

Checkout Girl

Mouse Trap by Billy Federighi of Beverly Hills, CA.
-Aired the next year during the 2008 Super Bowl.

Mousetrap

Chip Lover’s Dream by Jared Cicon of Claremont, CA.

A Chip Lover’s Dream

Duct Tape by Joe Herbert of Batesville, IN.

Duct Tape

When will Doritos announce the 2014 Crash the Super Bowl contest?

Doritos’ new look for 2013

This summer I’m taking a trip to New Orleans and a few nights ago I stayed up late looking at flights and hotels.  When I finally went to bed, I had a nightmare.  I dreamed that I was walking down Bourbon Street with my friends and it was a nice hot sunny day.  But then I started to notice something strange.  Everyone in the city was putting up Christmas decorations.  They were stringing lights up above us and hanging wreaths from the balconies.  I flipped out and started running around yelling at everyone Twilight Zone-style, “What are you people doing!?  It’s too soon!  Christmas is seven months away!  It’s too soon for this!  It’s summer time!!!”

That dream has been on my mind today because I’ve been trying to decide if it’s too soon to start posting about this year’s Crash The Super Bowl contest.  Like Christmas, Doritos season seems to begin earlier and earlier every year.  It used to be that I’d start getting e-mails about The Crash after the 4th of July.  But over the last few weeks a good number of people (online and in the real world) have asked me about this year’s contest. So even though the last installment ended only about 3 months ago, I figured I’d do a post and answer two frequently asked questions:

Q:  Is Doritos doing the Crash the Super Bowl contest again this year?  A:  Frankly, I don’t know.  Doritos always keeps a tight lid of the details of the contest.  But I’d be willing to bet 10 bags of Cool ranch chips that the Crash will return this fall.  A few days after the Super Bowl, Ad Week ran a story about how thrilled FritoLay was with the “data” from the 2012-2013 CTSB contest.  The article concluded with this statement:

And it sounds likely that Doritos will run the “Crash” initiative again next year. “This is the best amplification of our brand narrative,” Klein said. “We just continue to be blown away by the creativity of Doritos fans.”

I’m guessing the rep from Fritolay dropped a lot of off-the-record hints during his interview but the reporter wasn’t allowed to come out and confirm that the contest would come back for 2014.

 Q:  When will Doritos announce the contest?  A:  FritoLay usually announces the details of The Crash in different stages.  Last year they announced on September 6th that they were going to officially announce the contest on September 18th.  Then when the 18th arrived FritoLay announced that the contest would begin on October 8th.

So if Doritos sticks to the same schedule (they usually do) we still have about 4 months before we learn whether or not the contest is coming back this year.  That might seem like a long ways away but 4 months isn’t really a ton of time.  So I don’t think it’s too soon to start thinking about ideas and making tentative plans.  I have a good feeling about this year’s Crash the Super Bowl contest and I’m looking forward to it.  About 6 weeks ago, Doritos officially changed the design of all of their bags.  They haven’t updated their designs since 2006 and that just happened to be the first year the CTSB contest was launched.  I sort of hated those bright red, shiny bags.  They were a real bitch to light.  These new bags look a little less reflective so they’ll look nicer on camera.  Now that I think about it, Doritos will need to create new video “end tags” for the Crash the Super Bowl contest since this logo…..

RIP Orange thingy that sort of looks like a sound wave

has been retired.  Man, maybe this year FritoLay will decide to freshen up the whole CTSB tool kit and provide filmmakers with a “Doritos Crunch” sound effect that doesn’t sound so creepy and fake!