How to Clean Up in Clean Water contests

I have a really dumb video contest tip for you today.  Are you ready for it?  Ok, here it is: Start writing down ideas for funny videos about clean water.  Once you have a few good ones, flesh them out into really strong scripts.  Then head to google and set a news alert for the terms “Water” and “Video Contest.”  At some point during the next few months I guarantee that you’ll hear about at least one new Clean Water-themed video contest.  How do I know this will happen?  Because it happens all the time!  “Clean Water” might be one of the most popular contest themes of all time.  So if you have some decent water scripts chillin’ on your hard drive, eventually you’ll be able to pick one and shoot it.

Unfortunately, water-themed contests are usually run by non-profit groups so the prize pools tend to be on the small side.  But contests run by non-profits usually don’t get a ton of entries so at least the competition will be light.

If you need some watery inspiration, check out the $2,000 grand prize winner American University’s “Eco-Comedy Video Competition.”

This video is kind of cute but it also would have been easy to beat.  (A panel of judges picked the winners).  You can see all the runner-up entries here but trust me, I know you could write and shoot something better than all of them.

Actually no, wait…WTF am I doing.  Now I want to write some scripts and enter Clean Water-themed video contests.  Forget everything I said in this post.  I am as dumb as this tip was.

Filmmakers Beware: wants you to PAY to enter their video contests

Suckers Welcome.
Suckers Welcome.

So far the new video contest site, 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:

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:
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
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?

The Chiquita video contest was bananas…..bananas. B.A.N.A.N.A.S. bananas.


Ok, the Chiquita video contest wasn’t really bananas.  I just thought the Gwen Stefani reference would make for a funny title.  Truth be told, this contest was actually 100% non-bananas.  It was just a nice, orderly, well-run competition.  What’s the least crazy fruit?  Apples maybe?  Well if so, this shit was totally apples…..apples. A.P.P.L.E.S. apples.

In all there were three categories:  Music Video, Sing-A-Long and Banana Gram.  The Banana Gram category was mostly for fun; a few people won $100 each for uploading a photo that was automatically added to an old Chiquita Banana commercial.  The big money in this contest was for the music video category.  First place was good for $5,000.  Here’s the grand prize winner:

Click the still to watch the video on the contest site
Click the still to watch the video on the contest site

That was easily one of the 40 best banana-themed videos I’ve ever seen.  And let’s be honest, it would have been a huge disappointment if the grand prize video DIDN’T include a coupla’ pants-less goofballs in banana costumes.

Head here to see the other winners in this contest.  Then head to the store and buy a bunch of bananas.  They’re super good for you, bro.  Plus they come with a free sticker!

Blaze Pizza’s Fan Fest Video Contest Winner

Have you heard of Blaze Pizza?  It seems like they’re trying to do for pizza what Chipotle did for burritos.  And frankly that’s a noble and honorable pursuit. I looked at Blaze’s website and their pizzas looks pretty good.  But that’s like saying a sunset or a sunflower looks good.  All pizza looks good.  Well, except for those f-ing hot-dog-in-the crust abominations that Pizza Hut is selling now.  Just because you CAN put something inside a pizza crust doesn’t mean you SHOULD.  I mean I like donuts but I’m not going to take a pizza and…..oh my god…..a pizza with a donut crust!  Jesus Christ!  How has no one every though of that before!!?!?  The pizza would just be a regular pizza but the crust would be fried dough slathered in chocolate and sprinkles!  So you’d have your meal and dessert combined in one item. I think I’ll call them Pizza-nuts! Or maybe’Za-Doughs? It doesn’t matter. Whatever I call them I’m gonna be a millionaire….

But anyway, as I was saying, Blaze Pizza looks looks tasty and a lot less cheap and gross than Pizza Hut and or Dominos.  They launched a generic “explain why you love our product” contest back in the spring and they recently announced the winner.  Here’s it is:

Grand Prize Winner.  Prize:  $5,000:

If I had a dime for every time I’ve been to an all-night pizza party like that I’d have like 12 dimes.  And can I just say what everyone is thinking?  The people in that video were obviously baked out of their minds.  I mean seriously, do you know how high you have to be to put a slice of pizza in a DVD player?  The answer is “super.”  You need to be super high to do that.  Well congrats you crazy kids, 5K is gonna buy you a shit ton of Purple Kush and Fast-Casual, small chain Pizza.  If you’re in the Chicagoland area please invite me to your next party.  I’ll bring some Pizza-Nuts for dessert.

Userfarm Jr. (AKA goes live, the offspring of Poptent and Userfarm is now live and the new company is already running several big video contests.  I poked around the site last night and I still can’t tell why this big merger was necessary.  Vizy is basically Userfarm with a new name and a slightly different design.  Just take a look at these screenshots and you’ll understand what I mean…

Userfarm 2013


Vizy 2015

The new Vizy banner looks like it was designed by someone on Poptent’s graphics team but other than that, this new site doesn’t really include any of Poptent’s style or features.  And that might be a problem for the new company because Vizy’s Euro-Centric theme will probably be a turn-off to a lot of American filmmakers.  Whenever I’m looking for a new contest to enter, I usually skim the listings at and stop whenever a big dollar amount catches my eye.  But I don’t have an automatic currency calculator in my head so I usually ignore contests that list their prizes in Euros.  And I hate to sound like a stuck up American but seeing all those little flags feels a little off-putting too.  American filmmakers have gotten used to entering contests that are open to US-residents only.  So it just seems like bad strategy to enter a contest that’s open to 600 Million people.

There’s really only one reason why Poptent and Userfarm merged to form Vizy; Poptent had tens of thousands of member-accounts and Userfarm wanted them.  But most of Poptent’s members are located in the US.  That means most of those people will have zero interest in creating video content for foreign markets.  (How is a guy in Indiana supposed to know what kind of ads will work in Italy or Spain)  So hopefully the folks at Vizy will realize this and create a special web portal just for their American members.  All they have to do is list prize amounts in good ole’ dollars, hide the contests that need videos in languages other than English and run the occasional project for a regional US sponsor (like the California board of Tourism) and Vizy will probably wind up being very popular with American filmmakers.