Memories of Meatwad

Tonight the final episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force will air on Adult Swim.  ATHF might be the most ridiculous show on TV but it’s actually had a profound impact on my life.  In fact, if it wasn’t for the Aqua Teens this website wouldn’t exist….

Ten years ago I was unemployed and I’d stay up late watching whatever weird stuff was on TV at 2AM. I soon discovered Aqua Teen Hunger Force and I was obsessed after one episode.  (Forget about Walter White and Liz Lemon…for me Meatwad is the most fascinating TV character of the past decade.)  I got my friend Mike hooked on the show and a few months later he called me and said “Hey!  MC P Pants from Aqua Teen Hunger Force is playing in Chicago tonight!  Let’s go!”  If you’ve never seen ATHF before, MC P Pants was a re-occurring character.  He’d show up in different physical forms and do crazy high pitched raps about candy and vampires and shorties.

So long story short, the guy who did the voice of MC P Pants was a real rapper and me and Mike went to go see him.  It turns out the show was sort of a geek rap concert.  The audience was filled with straight up, hardcore, unabashed “nerds” and they were all going crazy for the music.  People in the crowd kept using the word “Nerdcore.”  I asked around and a few people told me that Nerdcore was a new style of hip-hop and that there were Nerdcore rappers all over the country.  My immediate reaction was “wow somebody should make a documentary about this” and then of course I remembered that I was a filmmaker and I decided then and there to shoot a film about the genre.

By late 2006 the documentary was half done and I posted a preview trailer on youtube.  I didn’t expect anyone outside the cast to see it but the trailer went semi-viral and it got posted on tons and tons of websites and blogs.  In the summer of 2007 I was contacted by a guy who owned a tech firm; he said he saw my Nerdcore trailer and clips and he asked me to shoot a geek rap video for his company’s video contest.  He strongly hinted that if I entered, he would pick my music video as the $5,000 grand prize winner.  So I teamed up with one of the rappers from the film and we shot a video….

And surprise, surprise….we won.  So yes my first video contest win was as a ringer.  I thought that $5,000 check was a once-in-a-lifetime lucky break.  But a few months later I heard about another video contest and I entered and won that one too.  Then I found another and another and another…

So if it wasn’t for Meatwad, Frylock, Master Shake and Carl I don’t know what my life would be like today.  Over the years I’ve made probably $130K thanks to video contests and the Nerdcore documentary has provided me with a bunch of amazing opportunities.  The latest one is that I’ve now got a film on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.  Our distributor emailed me out of the blue a few weeks ago and asked if they could release the Nerdcore doc digitally and of course I said yes.  And that brings me to the main point of this post; if you’d like to see my 2008 documentary Nerdcore For Life, you can now rent it or buy it via iTunes, Amazon and Google Play!


Google Play:


If you actually watch the film, I’d appreciate it if you leave a nice review.  But don’t watch it tonight.  Watch the Aqua Teen Hunger Force finale instead.  And Rick and Morty.  That show is dope too. goes offline

RIP Poptent: 2007 - 2015
RIP Poptent: 2007 – 2015

I used to have a lot of love for Poptent.  That site basically saved my ass a few years ago.  Back in 2008 I was working for an AV company when the economy suddenly crashed and burned.   Most of our clients were big banks and credit card companies and by the fall most of them were in freefall.  By the spring of 2009, I (and about 30 other AV techs in Chicago) were out out of work.  My company had laid off guys who had 20 years of experience so I knew there was no way in the world I’d be able to get a new AV job any time soon.  So after a few months on unemployment I started entering every big video contest I could find.  Eventually I discovered Poptent and compared to the crappy contests that most companies ran on their own, the Poptent contests were actually fun and fair.  I think I made about $10,000 during my first 9 months on Poptent.  Here’s one of my winning videos from 2009.  I won $3,500 for this Coors Light ad remix:


Now as you might have noticed, I uploaded that Coors Light video to my personal youtube account.  That used to be against Popetent’s rules and Terms of Service but there’s no need for me to worry about getting my Poptent account suspended because my Poptent account doesn’t exist anymore.  And guess what?  Neither does yours.  Last Thursday (and their PR site quietly went offline.

Everyone saw this coming but I was a little surprised that the site just blinked out of existence.  An official heads up would have been nice.  I think it was really sloppy and disrespectful that the staff didn’t at least send out an email to let their members know this was going to happen.  As I said, Poptent didn’t let filmmakers upload Poptent videos to third-party sites like Youtube or Vimeo.  Poptent videos were supposed to stay on Poptent.  So I’m sure a lot of filmmakers lost a lot of their work when the site went down.  I just checked my personal website and all of the Poptent videos I embedded there have been replaced with a 503 Service Unavailable message.

But a few thousand missing videos is nothing compared to a five hundred thousand missing dollars….and that’s allegedly how much Poptent still owes some of their members and employees.  It sounds like someone has started to send out partial payments to some of Poptent’s recent prize-winners.  If Poptent owes you money, please let me know if you’ve gotten a check recently.  You can leave a comment below or you can email me at

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!


Project ED’s got four hot new contests for July!

Hey, someone stole my idea for an anti-plagiarism contest!

So how’s your summer going so far?  Mine’s been pretty good.  Earlier this month me and and a friend took a last minute road trip to Detroit.  No, I’m not kidding.  It was actually way more fun than I expected.  We went to the Henry Ford museum, ate lots of coney dogs, visited that crappy pawn shop from Pawn Stars, cruised down 8 Mile, took a tour of the original Motown studio and gaped at dozens and dozens of perfectly fine but completely abandoned homes and office buildings.  The only part of the trip that sucked was our side-excursion to Windsor, Ontario.  I’ve always heard that Windsor is supposed to be Canada’s party-central but it turns out that the city is filled with 20 year old Americans who want to drink legally.  We did get to cash in some Canadian quarters and we used the money to buy lots of Poutine so at least the trip wasn’t a total waste.

Now that I’m back and now that the 4th of July is behind me, I’m rip-roarin’ and ready to start shooting some video contest entries.  I haven’t shot a contest video all summer so I should probably ease back into things with a something simple and fun.  Fortunately Project ED is running three, very nice video contests right now.  Each has 2 top prizes of $1,000.  Oh maybe I should enter the “Don’t Plagiarize Me, Bro!” contest”  Longtime fans of VCN will know that I freaking despise plagiarism.  I’ve been ripped off a few times and I used to see a good number of plagiarized video contest entries. But times have changed and that almost never happens any more.  Project ED is asking filmmakers to create videos that define plagiarism in 90 seconds or less.  I hope to Glob that all you guys already know what constitutes plagiarism but just in case you don’t, here’s a quick refresher from Project ED:

Plagiarism (verb): using another person’s words or ideas without crediting the original source.

Examples of plagiarism, provided by

  • Turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • Giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • Changing words by copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • Copying so many words or ideas from source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not
  • Yes, I did copy and paste that information from Project ED’s website and they copied and pasted from But we all cited our sources so this doesn’t count as plagiarism.  Hey wait a second….a blogger copying some definitions of plagiarism without citing his sources would actually be a funny topic for a contest entry.  I think I might shoot that idea. Hey you better not try and steal it!
    Here are all of Project ED’s current video and GIF contests:
    Don’t Plagiarize me, Bro! video contest:  Top Prize:  $1,000

    Independent & Dependent Clauses video contest:  Top Prize:  $1,000

    The Doctor will See You Now video contest:  Top Prize:  $200

    Globetrotters and Jet Setters video contest:  Top Prize:  $1,000



    Recent winners from Mofilm, Poptent, Project ED, UserFarm, Tongal and Zooppa

    Today I’m launching a new feature; The Recent Winner Round-Up!  Every few weeks I’ll post some of the best recent winners from all the top video contest/crowdsourced video sites.  I’m going to post all of these videos without comment.  I just want to share a bunch of recent winners so that you guys can see what it takes to win top video contest prizes these days. Apparently some sites have really wonky embed codes so some of these results are represented by a screengrab. To watch those videos, just click on the image. Also, it seems like A LOT of companies are asking that the results of their contests/assignments be kept private. So it’s getting kind of tough to find really good entries. I had to check about 10 expired Tongal projects before I found one with a grand prize winner that wasn’t set to private. And I was actually going to include some eYeka videos on this list but it looks like they don’t post ANY of their winning videos. UPDATE: It turns out that eYeka does publish some of their winning entries. So I’ll be sure to include some eYeka videos in next Recent Winner Round-Up.

    5 Hour Energy assignment via Poptent. Purchased by the sponsor. Price: $15,000

    Rhythm and the Raven Contest via Project ED.  Youth Grand Prize Winner.  Prize: $1,000

    Rhythm and the Raven Contest via Project ED. Adult Grand Prize Winner. Prize: $1,000

    Candy Crush Saga Real Life contest. First Place Winner. Prize: 4000€

    Zest: Indulge Yourself contest.  First Place Winner.  Prize:  $10,000

    Coke Zero Competition via Mofilm.  First Place winner.  Prize:  $8,000 + a trip to Las Vegas

    Mapquest Competition via Mofilm.  First Place winner.  Prize:  $8,000 + a trip to Las Vegas

    My McDonald’s project via Tongal. First Place Winner. Prize: $37,500