See you in 2017 – although probably a lot less

I think we can all agree that 2016 sucked nuts and that we’re all happy that it’s over.  But on a personal level, 2016 was one of the best years of my life.  I was crazy busy this year and some of you may have noticed that I’ve been blogging a lot less.  Well, I hate to say it but I think the time has come for me to retire (or at least mostly retire) from VCN.  I started this site back in September of 2009 and I feel like 7 years is a pretty respectable lifespan for a goofy wordpress blog.  Right now I have no plans to shut down the site so it should still be here for a few more years.  But as of January 1, you won’t see many new articles from me.  I might blog every once in a while if I get really worked up about something but those posts will be few and far between.

If you’re a long-time reader of Video Contest News, I’d like to thank you for your time and interest.  (Even tough I’m retiring from this site, I’m going to continue entering video contests.  So you never know, you might wind up competing against me some time.)  I’d also like to thank all the companies that have sponsored VCN over the years, especially Tongal and Mofilm.  Both of those websites are incredibly awesome and their staffs really understand filmmakers and their needs.

One final thought; I wouldn’t mind passing this blog along to some other video contest addict.  So if anyone out there is interested in taking over VCN, let me know!

Good luck and happy new year to all!

-Dan L.


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


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.


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


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


The winners were….Pretty Nifty Productions.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.




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.


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:

VCN turns 5!

I already ate the cake that was under this candle
I already ate the cake that was under this candle

Happy blogiversary to me!  Video Contest News is now FIVE years old.  That’s bananas, isn’t it??  If VCN was a human he’d be ready for kindergarten.  (Lucky for me VCN is just a website because I don’t have money to blow on stupid school supplies.)  It was five years ago today on September 1st, 2009 when I first registered the domain,  Even after all these years it still feels kinda weird that I run a website that people actually read.  I just checked my traffic stats and in the last 12 months, VCN had 129,000 Unique Visits and 170,000 Page Views.  Sure, about 20% of that traffic was probably spammers trying to leave the same comments about “Free V1agrxa” over and over but hey, 80% of 129K ain’t nothing to sneeze at.  Thanks to all of you for reading the site and here’s to 5 more years of!  LOL/JK.  There’s no way VCN will still be around 5 years from now.  In fact, the entire video contest “industry” will probably be collapsing soon.  By 2019, computers will be so powerful that brands will be able to cut out the middlemen (filmmakers) and generate all their ads digitally.  But that nightmarish reality is still a few years away.  So I’ll be here bloggin’ my butt off until The Computers finally render all us meatbags obsolete!


Bye, Bye Beardy!

If you’re a regular reader of VCN you’ve probably noticed that the site looks a little different today.  After 3 1/2 years of loyal service, our faithful cartoon mascot “Beardy” has retired.  He was getting up there in years so I sent him to a farm where he can run and jump and play and grow his beard as long as he wants.  Only Beardy the mascot is retiring.  The guy who runs this blog under the name “Beardy” (A.K.A. me A.K.A. Dan) isn’t going anywhere.  I probably should have put the beard-man out to pasture a long time ago but I just couldn’t think of anything I could use to replace him.  Then a few days ago I was filming myself with my DSLR and as I was staring into the lens I realized an aperture symbol might make a nice, generic, un-bearded logo.

Good night, sweet prince.

So Beardy is dead on a farm now and I feel like VCN is a lot more professional looking.  I was never very attached to him and I’m glad that I finally took the time to create a new banner.  Let’s face it, Beardy was kind of a frumpy looking sadsack.  It also bugged me that he was holding up some kind of Hi-8 video camera from 1998.  The funny thing is, he was just supposed to be a temporary place-holder mascot.  I started this site on a whim in the fall of 2009 and that was the first semi-relevant iStockphoto image that I came across.  Originally VCN was supposed to be an anonymous blog and I never thought I’d actually want to share my real name here.  So when it came time to pick a new name I just named myself after the mascot guy.  I wound up ditching the “anonymous blog” idea pretty quickly but for some reason I kept the nickname.  But from now on I’ll be blogging under my own name, Dan L.  Actually, if you read my old posts it already looks like I’ve been posting as “Dan L” this whole time.  I just changed my wordpress profile and I guess it changed my name in every VCN post I’ve ever written.  Right now I’m in the process of de-beardy-fying all the other facets of my VCN persona.  I even figured out how to change my twitter handle.  Here’s the link in case you’d like to be the very first VCN reader to follow the blogger formerly known as Beardy:

The video contest winners of Super Bowl XLVI!

Feb 6th UPDATE: USA Today just announced the top 5 ads of the Super Bowl and the doritos ad, Man’s Best Friend came in first! More info coming soon.

Well, Super Bowl XLVI is over and the winner is….Video Contest Nerds everywhere! On sunday night, four of the commercials that aired during the big game were originally shot for video contests or online spec assignments. Doritos aired (only) two Crash the Super Bowl ads, Chevy aired the commercial that won Mofilm’s “Route 66” video contest and Dannon yogurt ran a commercial that was created for a Poptent assignment.  I’ll post all the winning ads below.  Let’s start with the Crash the Super Bowl winners:
Man’s Best Friend by Jon Friedman.  AD METER RANK:  #1

Sling Baby by Kevin Willson.  AD METER RANK:  #4

Normally, USA Today would release the results of their annual “Super Bowl ad meter” poll a few hours after the game. But this year, the Crash the Super Bowl winners will have to wait until Wednesday to find out if they won any of Doritos’ bonus prize money. The reason for the delay is that this year, USA Today is running TWO ad meter polls. The first got its results from focus group polling. The people in those groups watched the Super Bowl commercials live and turned up little knobs to indicate when they saw something the liked. The second Ad Meter poll is open to the public and it’s still going on. From now until Tuesday, February 7 at 6:00 pm EST, Facebook users can visit and vote for their favorite ad. If a Crash the Super Bowl commercial ranks in the top three on EITHER ad meter, Friotlay will pay out the traditional bonus prizes. First place is worth One Million Dollars, Second is worth $600,000 and Third place is worth $400,000. We will post the results of the “Facebook Ad Meter” as soon as they are announced on Wednesday morning.
And now, the other winning video contest entries of Super Bowl 46:
Happy Grad for Chevy by Zach Borst:

Chevy aired a few commercials during the big game but I think Happy Grad was the best Chevy ad of the night. In my opinion it blew away the other Chevy commercials even though the other spots were big budget extravaganzas about skydiving cars and the Mayan apocalypse.
The Tease for Oikos Yogurt by Remy Neymarc:

How the “The Tease” came to be is kind of an interesting story. Dannon ran a very special, private assignment on Poptent and asked members to create video “pitches” for a Oikos Greek Yogurt commercial that could feature John Stamos. 24 filmmakers shot their commercials using stand-ins for Stamos. The folks at Dannon picked their favorite and the chosen director got to re-shoot his idea. You can read the full story here.

Based on the quality of the ads we saw tonight, I think we’ll be seeing A LOT of “Crowdsourced” commercials during next year’s Superbowl. I watched the game in a crowded bar and all of the video contest entries went over pretty well. To my surprise, the Dannon yogurt ad made a lot of people laugh out loud. Chevy’s “Happy Grad” got a mild but positive reaction. “Sling baby” got some chuckles from one group of older women. One of them screamed with laughter but the men in the bar didn’t really react to that spot. The champ of the night though had to be “Man’s Best Friend.” People went bonkers for that one and most of my friends seemed to think it was the best commercial of the game. But like I said, all these ads did pretty well so all the winning filmmakers deserve a hearty “congratulations.” There’s still time for you to help make this year’s crop of Super Bowl video contest entries look good so head here to vote for them in USA Today’s Facebook ad meter poll.