Blue Apron creates a crowdsourced cooking show

My girlfriend (like all girlfriends everywhere) loves Blue Apron.  If you’re not familiar with that company, BA sends you recipes and the exact ingredients you will need to prepare those meals.  It’s a weird service.  Like, if the recipe calls for 2 sprigs of fennel they will ship you exactly two sprigs of fennel.  I’m not a big fan of BA because they pretty much put fuggin’ mushrooms on everything and glob dammit I hate mushrooms.  (When I was a kid I at some mushrooms I found in the woods because I thought they’d make me bigger like Super Mario. I tripped balls for three days straight and eventually the cops had to fish me out of a green drain pipe.)  But mushrooms aside, I guess I can see why people love Blue Apron so much.  And I’m not surprised that their first video contest was such a big hit.  The company asked people to film themselves cooking a specific recipe for a chance to win a trip to New York.  About 200 people entered and Blue Apron used some of their favorite entries to create a crowdsourced cooking show.  It’s a brilliant idea and the final product is very watchable:

The sponsor wound up picking two winners.  Both are dog-themed.  So eventually Blue Apron is going to get sued by some dummy who’s dog got burned while helping him make crispy chicken in orange sauce.

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.

Filmmakers will soon be able to monetize their Facebook videos

Most people used to post their videos to youtube and then use facebook to promote their work.  But now filmmakers and social media stars are cutting out the middleman and posting their viral efforts right to their facebook account.  The Likes and Views these videos generate help make their parent pages “stronger” and more popular.  For instance, here is a video that Russel Brand uploaded to Facebook.  (It’s a story about his phone being stolen and then returned while he was in India.)  The video has been Liked 34,796 times, it’s been shared 16,992 times and it’s been viewed 1,724,573 times.  If you sort your news feed by “top posts” then a video with stats like that will almost certainly appear at the top of your feed.  But Facebook’s algorithms will also reward Brand for all those likes, views and shares by boosting the exposure of his future posts.  Basically Facebook detects that Russel Brand’s content is popular so they automatically show more of Russel Brand’s stuff to more people.

Of course these views aren’t exactly true and genuine Views with a capital V.  As Antonin Scalia would say, there’s a little Jiggery-Pokery going on here.  Facebook Video exploded last year when the site enabled a new auto-play feature.  Even if you don’t click on Russel Brand’s video, it will start playing if you skim past it in your news feed.  So thanks to those Auto-Plays, Facebook now garners Four Billion video views a day.

Youtube passed the 4,000,000,000 views a day mark back in 2012 and now sees close to Eight Billion views a day.  But Four Billion views is still pretty incredible and a whole lot of content creators and celebrities have been waiting for the day when they could actually start making money from their facebook views.  Well that day is finally here…, sort of.  On July 1st, Facebook announced their preliminary plans for video monetization.  At first only a few select people or production companies like Funny or Die and Fox Sports will be invited to participate in the program.  And if things go well, eventually you and me and your Grandma Rose will be able to enable ads on our Facebook videos.  Facebook’s terms will be the same as youtube’s; 55% or revenue will go to the creator and 45% will go to the site.

Head to or more details (and an explainer video):

Three reasons why you should always donate to your friends’ Kickstarter campaigns

If you’re a filmmaker you probably have a lot of friends that are also filmmakers.  And if you have a lot of friends that are filmmakers, you probably see a lot of kickstarter projects in your Facebook news feed.  I’m a big cheapskate but as a rule I try and donate to my friend’s projects whenever I can. Here are three reasons why you should do the same:

1.  It’s nice:  Running a Kickstarter can be stressful.  If it doesn’t go well the director might feel like their family and friends are ignoring them in their time of need.  Your donation (even if it’s only a few bucks) will mean a lot.  A lot of people will donate when a campaign is first launched or in the final hours before the deadline.  So I recommend that you make your donation in the middle of a campaign.  Your friend will probably be a little freaked out if a few days go by and they don”t get any donations.  So your $25 will help keep their spirits up.

2.  Wedding Reception Rules apply:  Imagine you go to a wedding reception and give the bride and groom $100.  Then a year later it’s your turn to get married.  Etiquette (and common sense) dictates that the other couple should at least match the gift that you gave them.  It’s an unspoken quid pro quo.  So if you ever plan on running a kickstarter of your own, you sure as hell better start funding your other people’s projects now.  As I said, I’m happy to donate to my friends’ campaigns.  But if see a Kickstarter that was launched by someone who has never backed any other projects, I’m not going to be sending that person a donation.  Remember, you should only try and raise money via kickstarter if you have a track record of donating money via kickstarter.

3.  Your risk is low:   Only 38% of Kickstarter projects actually reach their funding goal.  Your credit card only gets charged if a campaign is successful so there’s a good chance you’ll never have to donate real money.  If a project fails, the sponsor will be bummed but at least they’ll know that you care about their work.  And I guarantee that they’ll never forget you were ready and willing to help make their dream a reality. So it’s a nice, low-risk way to let someone know that you have their back.

As it happens, one of my old friends from film school is running a kickstarter right now and if this post has put you in a generous mood, maybe you should check out her plans and consider giving her a few bucks.  Maria wants to make a surreal short film about a “missed connection” from 1961.  The script is based on a true story that our old writing teacher once told her.  Here’s an expert of his story:

I think it’s going to be a cool little short.  I’m picturing a cross between Mad Men, This American Life and a Michel Gondry film.  For more info, head here:

Tongal teams up with Lionsgate and Facebook to produce a series of fan-made Twilight films

I bet they’re thinking about ideas for short films

If I were a 14-year old girl I’d probably love Twilight.  But I’m not a 14 year old girl.  I’m a grown-ass man.  So Twilight is totally foreign to me.  I know there’s a vampire guy named Edward and he loves that girl in the photo and they’re mad at a werewolf or something but that’s about all I’ve been able to pick up from all the Twilight trailers I’ve seen over the years.  Never the less, I do recognize that Twilight is a gigantic deal to a lot of people out there.  So here’s a bit of news should get Twi-hards AND video contest fans excited:  Lionsgate is teaming up with Facebook and Tongal to produce a series of at least 5 new, fan-made short films that will be set in the Twilight universe.  Most of the details for this contest are still under wraps but here’s some basic info from the New York Times:

Lions Gate and Stephenie Meyer, the creator of the vampires-and-werewolves “Twilight” saga, on Tuesday announced plans to select five aspiring female directors to make short films based on “Twilight” characters. The mini-movies, financed by Lions Gate and its production partners, will be shown exclusively on Facebook next year.

The short film series, called “The Storytellers — New Creative Voices of ‘The Twilight Saga,’ ” has the backing of Women in Film, an organization devoted in part to ending a shortage of female directors.

A group of female panelists, including the “Twilight” actress Kristen Stewart and Ms. Meyer, will select the winning shorts and mentor participants, Lions Gate said. Other panelists include the actresses Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer and Julie Bowen; Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first “Twilight” movie; the film producer Cathy Schulman; and Jennifer Lee, who co-directed “Frozen.”

Certain contest details, including the length of the shorts, are still being worked out and will be made available on, a crowdsourcing platform. A spokeswoman for Lions Gate declined to say how much the studio would spend, but added that it would be a “significant” amount, at least by short-film standards. The cast members of the “Twilight” movies are not expected to appear in the short films.

From what I’ve read it sounds like this project will be run in phases just like any other Tongal contest.  If you’re interested in pitching an idea you should check out this placeholder page and sign up to receive an announcement when the contest is officially launched: