Tag Archives: jaredcicon




Hey Everyone,
I promised to get back to the kingdom and report on my progress with the MOFILM/Walmart video assignment. And here I am. Yesterday (Monday July 16th) was the deadline to submit to the assignment. I made the video submission with two days to spare. The paperwork was a little daunting. MOFILM is very thorough and covers all of their bases. Because I had 10 Extras and 4 principals (+ minors), I had a ton of releases, driver’s license copies etc.. But I submitted on time and now all that’s left is to wait and see. But from what I understand it won’t be a long wait. More about that, later in the post.

I’m going to try and provide as much information as I can about the process to help those of you who have never created with MOFILM make a more informed decision should you choose to engage.

As I reported in my previous blog post, I applied for a grant and was awarded $2,000.00 to help in the production of my Walmart script. MOFILM provides a substantial amount of production grant money with most of the projects they host. To qualify, they require a detailed synopsis and/or script detailing your idea, and a link to other work you have done. If they like what they see/hear, you get the grant (ranging from $500 – $2,000). This grant is paid whether or not you win the assignment, and is not deducted from any prize money in the event you win. The only stipulation is that you faithfully execute your script. MOFILM provides grants in part, to maintain a high quality level of submissions for their clients. This is smart for everyone concerned. Smart for the brand, smart for MOFILM, and smart for we creatives who can pay our talent and crew, and in the process keep them coming back for future projects. I think what is lost on most crowd-sourcing portals is that even if we creatives can’t help but going back to the crowd-sourced back-alley for our production fix, sooner or later, we lose the faith of those production associates (talent/crew) who don’t take our addiction in the same stride. They want/deserve better for themselves.

I win my share of video contests, and even His Highness experience times where talent declines an opportunity to work on a project unless there is a guaranteed payday. Can’t blame them. Bottom line here, you can’t help but feeling better about a company like MOFILM when they are willing to line up along side you and share in the production risk. Won or lose, I’ll feel a lot better about the time and talent I’ve dedicated to the MOFILM model.

One thing that really stood out with MOFILM when compared to other crowd-sourcing portals I’m familiar with, is that I was included in the communication chain at several junctures. Upon submitting my script, the Walmart brand took an interest in reviewing and suggesting things that could do to help make it a more campaign friendly message. MOFILM cc’d me on certain emails so I could see first hand the exact wording the brand was using when they were communicating an idea. Later in the pre-production phase we had some lengthy give and take about the appropriate type of location that should be shot (I had requested to use a Walmart store for some of my live-action filming). In this case I was simply included in the email chain. It was so refreshing to be treated and communicated with in the same way my non-contest customers treat me. Like a grown-up. Imagine that. I had become so used to the super secretive, clandestine nature of video contests that it actually took me by surprise when I started getting emails where I was included in the conversation as the ‘director’ of the spec. commercial. ‘Respect’ is also a form of compensation…and I received a good measure of it from MOFILM. It also helped in eventually securing a store with the new Walmart logo on it’s exterior, and at which I could shoot the necessary footage. Don’t get me wrong, the exchanges of communication had an occasional stumbling block or two, and nor did I score all of the concessions I sought from the brand as a creative/director. But such is often the case when working with clients on non-contest related branding. What bears repeating though, is there was a much more transparent veil of communication while navigating the production process.

Now, I don’t know if this is standard protocol but I was shocked when MOFILM informed me that the results should be in well before the end of the month. That’s less than two weeks. If true, that will be awesome. I hate to wait for anything, especially when I end up not selling/winning the assignment anyways. Surely the results notification will differ from brand to brand, but it was nice to get specific information like this instead of the same old form letter we often receive from other portals at submission deadline. A form letter which essentially really reveals nothing at all about when the brand will make the decision.

That’s right folks. There was no contest video gallery for the Walmart contest. And I loved it. At first I thought it was a ripoff. I’ve been so ingrained into thinking that I need to view all of the 100- 200 or 4,000 videos that I’m competing with. I just had to have that 3-4 hours or 3-4 days investment of time (depending on size of contest), that always resulted in nothing more than useless consternation and time away from family. I’m going to be perfectly honest with the reader. I can’t tell you how much time over the years I’ve wasted, musing over my competitor’s work. For sure there is a benefit to seeing what the next great technique is, and measuring it against your own skill set with an eye to improving, but come on people….we don’t limit it to that. Not sure why we do it, but aside from the communal benefit it seems like we all spend a whole lot of wasted time in THE GALLERY. I feel a sense of freedom and independence, now that I have been weened off the gallery tit. Cold Turkey.

With this Walmart contest, only the top five ‘moneymakers’ as chosen by the brand will be showcased on the site. That is frankly how it should be. In the olden days, when you produced on spec. for a brand, they didn’t show you the work of a competing creative director, and as we mature in our roles as serious ‘players’ in the advertising world, we shouldn’t require it either. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve crossed a bridge. OK, yes, I’ll occasionally still create content for crowd-sourcing sites that have galleries and I”l likely revisit bad habits occasionally leaving veiled remarks, to most of the competitors (except for a very small close circle of friends). But when the day comes where galleries disappear altogether, we’ll all be better off. Let the winning videos suggest to us how we could have done better. MOFILM shows just the winners.

I think the most exciting thing I appreciate about MOFILM is their transparency between admin (themselves), we creatives and the brand. In fact, with the Walmart contest, the winner of the assignment will be receiving their paycheck directly from Walmart at a festive event in Chicago to which they will fly and accommodate the winner and a guest with the Lollapalooza Music Festival as backdrop. That’s right, the winning creative gets a trip to chicago and will personally meet the brand that purchases the creative content. Can anyone say, “Career Advancement”? This is quite a cry from sites like Poptent.net which through the creative contract, prohibits both the brands (their clients) and the creatives (us), from having any communication whatsoever for one full year after the conclusion of any assignment for which we’ve created content, win or lose. Kind of stifling to the career of a freelancer who is hoping to make impressions on brands with hopes of future employment. Poptent doesn’t hide their policy either, sort of. You can read it yourself. I think it’s on paragraph four of page eleven on the terms and conditions form. And if you’ve never read it, it ‘s to your own undoing. We should always fully read any and all contracts we sign, and prior to doing so. Hey, I knew it was there and still created content. I’m not saying though am happy about that. Look, I ‘get’ that it’s a necessary part of saddling /obscuring/locking-away Poptent‘s bread and butter (us), but if MOFILM has figured a way to do it and still be profitable, why can’t other crowd-sourcing portals. I mean, for me it is quite simple. Even if I lose the Walmart assignment:
1. MOFILM still helped me produce to the tune of $2,000.00
2. MOFILM showed the respect of sharing the risk of spec. production.
3. MOFILM allowed for increased open communication with the brand during production.
4. When I do win one day, I will meet the brand face to face.
5. MOFILM allows me to maintain a roster of professional associates who will continue to work with me because I have a ‘budget’.

In the not too distant future, major and intermediate brands will have their own Crowd-Sourcing departments where capable producers are given leads and ‘breakdowns’ on upcoming ad campaigns. When you consider how the whole crowd-sourceing model has morphed over just a few short years (production grants, invite only assignments etc.), there are scarcely other evolutionary possibilities. I think it will be a boon to those creatives who are serious about their craft and who increasingly bolster their professional profile and skill set. Some things in the world of business do not change. Professionals expect the people they work with to be professional.

Well, that’s all I got for now. In my opinion, if you’ve grown tired of the other crowd sourcing sites available to you on the net, and haven’t yet tried MOFILM, you ought to.

Yours Truly,
The King


MOFILM bankrolls a VCK contest submission.

Hear ye, hear ye!!! The VCK (aka Jared Cicon Films), applied to MOFILM for a production grant to help offset production costs for a video to be submitted to one of their contests, and the award was granted! Pretty cool huh? Although it makes me feel pretty special (and it surely does), the truth is, it happens all the time at MOFILM.

MOFILM issues up to 10 production grants per assignment (ranging from $500 – $2,000.00) to creatives who demonstrate the talent, will and track record of producing quality content, as they pitch/propose to MOFILM.

These Production Grants are intended to raise the quality of the assignment submissions by increasing production values. The grants may be spent for items ranging from, paying for pro talent, buying/renting legit props, buying/renting equipment, etc. Basically, most anything that ensures the brand can get a better, more ‘usable’ video at contest conclusion.

FYI, MOFILM is similar to crowd-sourcing models like tongalZOOPPApoptentGeniousRocket, eYeka, etc..

Why didn’t I do this earlier?
It’s funny how comfortably self-sabotaging we allow ourselves to be in our daily/weekly/yearly routines. Never reaching out, rarely willing to truly explore and try and apply new things. Case in point: Over the last several years I’ve seen countless adverts and articles for the MOFILM brand, and never took the time to ‘really’ check out their offerings. It actually took one of MOFILMS’s representatives, (Kerry Gaffney), to finally spur this royal clydesdale into drinking at the watering hole. I didn’t realize how dehydrated I’d become.

What caught my attention?
Kerry Gaffney (MOFILM) posted a comment in a recent VCK blog:
It can be easy for the people organising the contests to forget that entering isn’t free, even if there is no ticket price to enter per se, making a decent entry costs time and money for [a] result that isn’t guaranteed.

These are courting words for any ‘available’ freelance creative, and they definitely got my attention. I can’t understate how important it is to the freelance creative to hear from the crowd sourcing portal, that they understand the financial plight of the spec-producing freelancer as we regularly and repeatedly create and give away the life blood raw material of the business model…for free.

OK, back to my particular dealings with MOFILM.
What’s cool about the grants is, even if my submission is not chosen by the brand, as long as I faithfully follow the script/pitch I submitted to the grant committee, deliver the video as promised by deadline, and can produce reciepts for my expenses, MOFILM will still honor the grant and pay me the $2,000.00 grant to help minimize my losses.

How’s that for a crowd sourcing portal shouldering some of the risk of speculative content creation? It makes me feel like MOFILM is a ‘real partner’ in what I am trying to accomplish in my filmmaking career. Please, anyone, correct me if I’m wrong here and offer an alternate to MOFILM that provides equal or better risk-sharing. I hope, sooner than later, there become many.

Just so you know what we’re talking about here. I originally submitted a grant request for $3,500.00. I read the creative brief, provided a 3 or 4 sentence synopsis and a fully fleshed out first draft of the script (though a fully drafted script is not mandatory to pitch a project, I would suggest you do it. It will say a lot more about you and your ability to get an idea across.) I provided a list of items the funds would be allocated for: props, wardrobe, talent, craft services, labor fee for editing hours, etc..

MOFILM countered with a grant offer of less than what I requested. The reduction was primarily the result of disallowing payment for labor hours spent at the editing bay. It was explained that these hours are part of the ‘creative’ what will be awarded if the brand finds value in the content. It is one of the assets I must be willing ‘risk’, as I create on spec.. MOFILM did however approve of compensating for talent fees, crew fees, craft services, props, etc., all of which will markedly increase the realism of the finished spot. In the end, MOFILM agreed to a $2,000.00 grant. I accepted the terms. Though this will not pay me for any of my time or creative (editing/writing), it will surely allow me to employ tangible elements during production that will assuredly help to create a more polished national quality message.

This is good for me. This is good for MOFILM. This is good for the Brand.
This is good for the future of freelance film creators everywhere.

Let’s say I win the assignment and mine is the video purchased by the brand. Along with winning the top prize level $8,000.00 (in addition to the $2,000.00 seed money – $10,000.00 total), MOFILM will fly myself and a guest to Chicago, put us up in some nice digs for 4 days, and treat us like VIPs as we are shuttled to special events associated with the Lollapalooza Music Festival. Events will include a screening of our commercial (along with all other MOFILM awardees’ videos), where we will personally meet the brand representatives who purchased our content.

How’s that for making immediate and direct connections with brands as we grow the roots of our commercial production careers? I’d say it’s more than just a bit awesome.

And this ain’t no cheesy infomercial. After being purchased by the brand, if the commercial airs on television, MOFILM is starting a program that will provide for substantial additional residual payments for the creator of the content, and also for the talent that acted in the spot. If you want to read more, and you should…click here.

As of today’s date there remain contest opportunities relative to the Lollapalooza event at MOFILM. Brands associated with the contest include: Chevrolet, Walmart, Campbells Soups, Play Station, and Sovereign.

Similar to sites like poptent.net, you needn’t receive grant money to enter a contest at MOFILM. In fact, the best thing that could probably happen is for you to win a MOFILM contest without a grant. From that point forward, you would definitely be a big blip on the MOFILM sonar, and getting future grant money would likely become a whole lot easier.

I apologize for sounding like a commercial for MOFILM, and it is not lost on me that I am in the throes of the Honeymoon period of the contractual relationship between them and myself. As there is no perfect crowd-sourcing model, there will likely be stumbling blocks that need to be navigated, but so far I am sold on the the MOFILM structure/model.

I’ll be blogging about my experience with MOFILM as it unfolds over the next few months and my gut feeling tells me I’ll have more good things to report than bad. On it’s face, IMO, MOFILM represents the best opportunity for our community, relative to compensation, risk-sharing and freelance career advancement. If it’s not already, MOFILM should be included in your crowd-sourcing rolodex as a strong option when you embark on spending your most precious creative assets.

The King

Let’s help Kickstart Joel Berry

Hey Peeps, on the VCK I occasionally showcase fellow peers creative accomplishments. I do it in part, to help further careers that are largely authentic independent and entrepreneurial efforts, similar to most of us in the freelance videography community.

I hope through this post, to draw attention to a buddy of mine who has taken part in several of the King’s (Jared Cicon Films) video productions, both as crew behind the scenes and as on-camera talent. Joel Berry is a talented writer, actor, producer who, similar to most of us in the freelance community, is trying to carve out for himself a full time career in this entertainment jungle. Joel is a family fan. He is a married father of three little crumb-crunchers. (I use the term crumb-crunchers affectionately, since I used to have four of my own who have since graduated from crumb-crunching to steak-bone gnawing).

I first discovered Joel’s talent through his YouTube channel SweetTeaFilms. On it, Joel Berry plays ‘Tavin Dillard’, a very lovable piece of trailer park refuse who is an avid internet blogger. Tavin is a grass cutting professional (who still lives with his Mee-Maw), who shares through his blogging, the exploits of his Trailer Park world. Tavin is a family friendly character with enough edge and sophistication to satisfy tastes ranging from the cerebral to the flippant. You need to watch more than a single video to fully understand the Tavin character, but even after just a single blog you start to appreciate the solid comedy that Joel Berry has developed. I’ve been a fan for several years now.

Similar to many highly creative individuals on YouTube, I am astounded that after so many years of great comedy, Joel is still sitting on just 7K-8K subscribers. It boggles the mind. Oh, the inequities of the YT Universe.

Joel’s creative expression is not limited to his ‘Tavin’ related production alone. He has acted in several Jared Cicon Films commercials over the last several years. Joel produces ongoing content for Orange County, Ca. communities. He recently traveled to Nashville TN., to film a pilot episode for a TV variety show which he is currently pitching to the industry. Joel recently scored a regional, national commercial for a national Cable Television service provider.

KICKSTARTER and Joel Berry
Joel has taken the leap and decided to take his Tavin Dillard character on the road. He is bringing ‘Tavin’ to live stage venues in several states in the South, (Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas to name a few). He will execute a multi-state U.S. tour and needs our support to do it. He will be doing it by himself and just one other friend/producer/assistant. The usual expenses related to biting off this type of exploit are what Joel needs kick start help with. (Gas, Motel 8, food etc.). Though a personally risky and time consuming investment for himself and his family, it employs very financially modestly planning, but even Top Ramen costs greenbacks. Joel’s figured he needs just $2,340.00 to make it happen. I’ll tell you though, I know Joel very well, and I would bet that he has probably factored in the most spartan of accommodations/logistics for his journey. On my calculations he will more than likely need closer to 5K-6K to be on the safe side and to have a little bit of ‘fall-back’ money for unseen expenses and emergencies.

I’m hoping that regular readers of the VCK will give what they can to Joel’s ‘Live Tavin Tour’. I’d like to see the figure to reach at least 5K to see that he and his producer get to the five states he plans to travel to, knock em’ dead with Tavin, and return home safely.

If you can spare a few bucks for this great guy who is taking his dreams into his own hands (great example to the rest of us), than go to Joel’s  KICKSTARTER
, and hook him up. BTW, you get a bunch of Tavin Fan stuff when you make a contribution. Joel Berry is undertaking what most of us which we had the guts to do. Be a part of his odyssey. DONATE!

You can follow Tavin’s progress on the official Sweet Tea Films website.

Joel met his KICKSTARTER fund raising goal and will be taking ‘Tavin Dillard’ on the road. “WooHoo”!!! Can’t wait to hear the stories from the tour. Congratulations Joel.

Doritos Finalists Selection: Debunking the Conspiracy theorists

Every year, a large amount of disgruntled creatives and/or their friends, girlfriends, associated talent, mothers, hairdressers, bloggers, give their two cents on just how badly Doritos ran the newest edition of the CTSB contest.

And every year the assertions are pretty irrelevant to the how and why that goes into Doritos choosing finalists. Some arguments defend unselected submissions because they are legitimately superior in a PV sense to all other entrants EG: DORITO TRIANGLE. Even in my NTBHO some spots seem funnier than the five finalists du jour, EG: THE DORITOS PROPOSAL, or TAZE THE FLAVOR. I am also aware however that credible debate on the strength of even these three spots could be made, yet I stand by them unapologetically. You see, none of us is the lone arbitor of what is funny, professional looking, well produced, etc. etc. And none of us has the right to tell Doritos what is most appropriate to their brand. I’d like that to set in. It’s like telling a bride what kind/style of dress she’s going to have to wear on her wedding day……..not gonna happen.

Here are the cold, hard to swallow facts.
1. In 2007 Doritos scores 5th place in the USA Today Ad Meter (USATAM).
2. In 2008 Doritos scores 4th place in the USATAM. (And they weren’t even running the contest. They simply ran a spot from the previous year that market tested well).
3. In 2009 Doritos scores 1st and 5th place in the USATAM.
4. In 2010 Doritos scores 2nd place in the USATAM.
5. In 2011 Doritos scores 1st, 4th and 5th in the USATAM.

In five years Doritos has been in the top five of the USA Today Ad Meter Poll, 8 times (EIGHT TIMES!!!). Does any of my fellow peers understand how ridiculously difficulty it is to do something line this? This is unheard of in the world of advertising. In those five years there are only 25 spots to be won in the USATAM and against the best ad AGencies and creatives the world can produce, Doritos (a single brand) took 8/25. Please, please let that sink in.

USA Today uses a sample of people (about 300 individuals) that represent the average viewing public during the Superbowl. Doritos does well with this smattering of sweaty palm joystick/dial holding joe-shmos. These shmos may not be as artsy-minded as you and I. They may not understand the difference between a scrim and a baffle where PVs are concerned, but they represent the masses. Sorry if this makes you lose any faith with the average human being, and their ability to judge quality as compared to your own, but the type of content doritos chooses annually scores in a HUMONGOUS way, every single year. Frankly that you, I or anyone else thinks we know how better to choose finalists is a little haughty.

Any person or ‘blog’ (VCN ) who thinks Doritos is selecting spots because of past relationships with it’s creators is on it’s face, foolish. As a regular contributor to the blog here in the kingdom, Matt Pulliam puts it this way:

That Doritos would select the ads that rank highest in
test instead of selecting past finalists. Doritos
goal is to make
#1, #2, and #3 on the SuperBowl ad meter.
We all know that
everyone has a different opinion on which
entries were the
funniest, so ad meter marketing tests are the
best way to determine the finalists (what ad exec would want
to risk  his/her job on picking a potential dud without analytical
proof of success). If the test audience favored past finalist,
then it’s only because they make funny, like-able
memorable spots. It’s not easy!!

Anyone who rationalizes that Doritos chooses finalists based on ‘favoritism’ probably shouldn’t be in our line of work. It is the kind of reasoning that taints everything else we do in life, including our own content creation. Stop it with the conspiracy theories people and instead focus that negative energy in improving yourselves against the ever-incresing wave of talent that continues to join our freelance force in the advertising world. It’s going to get increasingly more and more competitive as we (freelance creatives) become relevant in our industry.

One more note on why Doritos has such a slick, smooth, efficient and highly successful model that they will probably run again and again and again until they either lose interest or something more effective replaces it:
Doritos is so successful with the CTSB because they advertise….in a myriad of ways through the contest. The 30,000 bags of Doritos that get purchased that run through the checkout line and the resultant conversations, the family and friends who see/consume the sudden increase in Doritos around the house. The cast and crew that eats them all day long as they are everywhere on the set, the individual campaigns that last for a month with these creatives spamming everyone they ever knew on their own email address book, and as many friends as will allow them access to additional address books.

Doritos can’t legally spam anyone concerning their product/brand/business, but there’s nothing illegal about having the five finalists (or 6,000 submittors) do it for them….

And as far as the submissions/content is concerned: Does anyone realize how many ad agencies or production companies would have to be hired by Doritos to produce as much content and/or to give them the same options that the CTSB provides? And to then be able to test and choose only the most appropriate submissions for broadcast, summarily discarding the rest without obligation to compensate any of the creatives? And what is so awesome about the whole exercise, is that we all knowingly give it all to Doritos…for free. We as freelancers agree to all of this. It’s brilliant. If this pisses you off, too bad. Because before the Crash The Superbowl contest came on the scene we had pretty close to ‘0’ direct access to any brands. You can thank Doritos for being a catalyst for changing the advertising model in a HUGE way, where video/commercial content is concerned.

The King

SuperBowl or Bust (Doritos Finalists Announced)

Well, there you have it. The horses are out of the barn and galloping their way to Doritos and Superbowl fame, or at least that’s the goal. I get nostalgic this time of year during the CRASH. I remember what it was like as a finalist, to campaign like a zombie day and night during the vote-getting phase of the contest. At the time, I was so ill-equipped to compete with my fellow finalists. In fact, I had used/owned a computer just a single year and owned a cell phone for only two years prior to the inaugural CTSB. Born in 1964 I am on the cusp of the baby-boomer generation. A generation which has not embraced the internet (or other communication technologies) in the way subsequent generations have. I almost missed the boat, but eventually joined the .com insanity with the rest of the world. Not sure if I am better off now than I was 7 years ago, but I have certainly been changed forever.

These five CTSB finalists (production teams) are about to embark on a life changing whirlwind odyssey, whether or not they prevail in being broadcast during the Superbowl. I remember being so bummed out discovering I came in last place in ‘votes’ and that my commercial wasn’t played during the big game. But then pleasantly discovered that Doritos liked our spots enough to run them as regular advertisement throughout the year. I remember the opporutnites that came from scoring my first national commercial. Lot’s of good things happened which eventually allowed the creation of Jared Cicon Films. So, win or lose on the SuperBowl stage, these finalists are already winners.

I was happy to see that two of my five choices for finalists made the Doritos top five: Bird Of Prey and Man’s Best Friend. And yes, though all of the spots are good commercials, IMO, better spots were passed over (no disrespect to the final five).

I am however smart enough to know that just because ‘The King’, on any given matter, thinks something is awesome, doesn’t mean that all of the remaining ‘non’ good-looking-chubby-white-boys-father-of-four-former-east-coast-rock-star-wannabee-baby-boomers will feel the same way, or that they are wrong. heck, it might just be this sole good-looking-chubby-white-boy who is occasionally wrong. After all, my experience in life is singular and so too are the resulting opinions from those experiences. It is why I am such a big proponent of peer review.

What is painfully clear is that all of the finalists chosen by Doritos over the years (and how well they have done on the Ad Meter) bears out that Doritos knows what the they are doing. No one can dispute this.

You don’t do as well in the USA Today Ad meter as often as Doritos has, without knowing what the h**l you are doing in the matter.

It’s funny, just a few minutes after the five finalists were announced, my phone started ‘texting’ off the hook. Peers and friends were lamenting the choices made by Doritos, and venting their frustrations verbally this-away-and-that-away. As predicted they would be, most were unhappy with the final five. Opinions are like fish in the see. countless and many still undiscovered. There is even a fellow blogger by the name of Dan Lamoureux (VideoContestNews) who is hemming and hawwing about how unfair the process is and why people should and shouldn’t have been chosen as finalists, using criteria other than how well they would do on the USA Today Ad Meter. I really wish people like Danny could step back for a second and listen to how pathetic their arguments sound. My pig pet peeve with bloggers like Danny Lamoureux, is that too many of you fellow creative peers who might otherwise go about progressing in positive and productive ways, read drivel like his and mistakenly create mental crutches to fall back on when things don’t go the way you’d like in contests and other freelance matters. In an ever increasing competitive creative fraternity, there is no time for either crutches or drivel.

Doritos, doesn’t care if you are a rank amateur (like I was my first year), or a veteran in the film industry (Kristin Dehnert that same first year), or somewhere in between (Billy Federighi & Brett Snyder the first year). Doritos doesn’t care if you come to the Doritos gas station in a Lamborghini or a mo-ped. They just want you….need you to perform on the highest level possible.


Let that sink in for a minute people……and then learn to embrace it. You otherwise chance finding yourself operating from a perpetual piss & moan disposition that could stunt your creative growth and sour you on what is still the greatest opportunity for freelancers bar none world wide. The advertising world has been changing before us for several years now (in large part because of what Doritos introduced). We don’t have time, nor is it helpful to complain about the part of our cup that is yet empty.

Video Contest News (VCN) presents the argument that past finalists shouldn’t be allowed to re-enter the CTSB once they win…., and/or shouldn’t be awarded subsequent years because it’s unfair to win more than once…………

Danny Lamoureux, (editor for the VCN) suggests that hose creatives who have shown skill at nailing the ‘creative brief’ (and BTW helped Doritos with their program’s success) should be barred from entering and/or prevailing in the contest a 2nd time. I don’t subscribe to this kind of narcissistic frustration. It flies in the face of why great things become ‘great’ in the world. It definitely isn’t the premise upon which America was built from the Industrial Revolution forward. It is similar to the mamby-pamby liberal perspective that there should be some arbitrary leveling of the playing field when a certain person or people feel disenfranchised because they can’t compete in any desired field. Is Danny suggesting we institute a sort of ‘Affirmative Action’ for the contest world? Oh yeah, the rest of the advertising world would just love that. That would ‘really’ provide formidable competition to the balance of the advertising industry where no such constraint exists.

Barring past finalists would be akin to the jealous fraternity of creatives at the Director’s Guild barring Stephen Spielberg from producing E.T., becasue he already had his hit with Close Encounters. And….he definitely should not have had the right to steal a disproportianate amount of box office revenue with Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, Super Eight, etc. etc. etc… How dare he. If Danny had his way, he would explain that Mr. Spielberg is now so well connected, as a result of his past success, that there is no way for his content to compete. the only solution is to bar/censor Mr. Spielberg.

Absurd. Funny too, because after reading a blog post he penned titled “No Fair, You Used Your Skills“, it appears Danny Lamoureux is conflicted on the issue.

Doritos doesn’t even trust themselves when choosing finalists for the CTSB. Did you hear what I just wrote?


Doritos will select the 25-100 submissions from the gallery that fit the brand requirements for comedy, demographic, image. They then put these spots in front of test market groups in an environment very, VERY similar (wink, wink) to what the real USA Today Ad Meter judges experience on the day of the Superbowl. The USA Today judges are regular people like you and I BTW. Current finalists are rated alongside previous year’s finalists commercials, and and also against spots like Budweiser, E-Trade, Geico, etc. etc., The finalists who fare the best (score the highest) are the ones Doritos chooses to compete during the Superbowl. End of story.

Doritos awards no creative finalist status unless the relative content demonstrates the requisite Ad Meter strength through test panel marketing. Case closed. Whatever way a creative does or doesn’t gain insight, advantage, upper-hand, insider-info, should matter little in the bigger picture. The most important take-away a freelance creative (and reader to this blog) should glean is to do the requisite homework to improve storytelling skills, increase production assets/values, and become steeped in the tradition of the brand to the extent you are capable of creating the type of content they just can’t pass over. Where the field of 6,000+ CTSB submissions is concerned, these five finalists did so.

The freelance genre (our world) is being flooded with new talent on a daily basis. Those creatives who used to be able to produce something half decent a year or two ago and gain some measure of recognition for their work, did so in part, because of the rather diminutive quantity of creatives on the scene at that time (it’s called ‘competition‘ Danny). During 2011 and now in 2012 things are changing even more rapidly and in bigger ways. We are being joined by waves and waves of new creatives who will force us to step up our game or render us obsolete. It is this continuing wave of oncoming talent that will help foster great changes in advertising. There is no free lunch. There is no ‘one-block-of-cheese-per-person’ stipulation. No entitlements here. It is a merit-based environment we must all prepare for. I try to improve daily. We all should. Only this way will we deserve the fruits of those labors that eventually reap reward. The alternative is to whine, complain, point fingers and wallow in mediocrity.

Doritos owes no one any apologies, and deserves much credit for what they do. The King is grateful for access like this on such a large scale, as we all should be.

His Highness

Doritos’ Fat Lady Has Sung (VCK Top Ten)

Hear ye, humble subjects of the Video Contest Kingdom,
The eleventh hour has come and gone. The finalists for the 2011-2012 CTSB have been selected. If Doritos hasn’t notified you by now, you should probably stop waiting by the phone and move on to greener fields. The alfalfa in this one has been well trodden under foot,… several times over.

I offer this information as a service to fellow freelance creatives of the Kingdom. Sort of like an early Christmas present. I do it because although, initially, the news may sting, it is better to invest only the required time and emotion on any given contest. For the CTSB, that time is fulfilled. I’d rather see the 3,000 or so CTSB runners up (myself included), move on through the holidays without the incumbrance of CTSB expectation. Though at first it may not seem so, there is a benefit to the clarity we can gain as we enjoy this very important holiday season with those that matter most, our friends, family and loved ones.

The year I was a finalist, I was notified on December 17th. There were tons of paperwork to fill out and agreements to sign, documents to get notarized, etc. etc.. My spot required no ‘changes’ as dictated by Doritos. I was the only actor, writer, editor, owner of all content, a true one-man-show. December 17th was sufficient time for me to get my ducks in a row where the CTSB peeps were concerned.  Where spots have multiple actors/owners-of-content/VO/etc., Doritos has learned the sooner they get documentation back, the better. When you add in that Doritos often has producers re-edit and change things before the brand is 100% comfortable with the spot,…I would imagine the notification date could happen even much earlier than December 17th. So here with only four business days left before Christmas, I am calling the race.

My goal is simple. It is a gesture to help unclutter the minds and expectations of the all but 5 creators who submitted to the CTSB contest. I would much prefer my peers in freelance video production to have the soonest opportunity possible to get past this nail-biting segment of the CTSB contest, freeing up time and attention better spent on other projects and career advancing goals.

When next year comes around, if Doritos is still running the CTSB, and if my production schedule allows it, I’ll once again submit to the contest and hope for the best, but I always prefer to know as soon as possible when I am out of contention in any given contest and it is why I’m posting this royal proclamation in the Video Contest Kingdom today.

Whoever and wherever you are, His Highness congratulates you. I know exactly what you are feeling right now and it is awesome. You are going to reap rewards, some of which you may only have heretofore dreamed of. From the perspective of a past finalist, His Highness would like to offer some caution, and a few tidbits of wisdom to the CTSB select.
You are about to be sent off on likely the most time-consuming, passionate, stressful, amazing, sleep-depriving odyssey of your lives. You will find yourselves asking the types of favors you are not used to asking. You will find yourself straining relationships with acquaintances who may not share the same passion as yourselves (or at least not to the same extent as you do). You should try your best to set time limits for internet stumping and stick to a schedule for yourself and your campaigners, doing your honest best to stay within those limitations. It is a long campaign journey, and it will change you. Be prepared for that.

Failing to take inventory of, and plan for the awesome journey in front of you will likely result in unintended pitfalls and consequences in relationships between yourself, friends and family, and those you love. Be aware of how your campaigning can greatly (and potentially negatively) effect your ‘regular job’ and the other responsibilities in your life which you will be required to ignore (to a greater or lesser extent).

By all means, do what you can to make yourself most visible on the Doritos social networking radar, since that is what will increase your chance of prevailing, (or so they say), but in the end, remember……when the dust settles, even if you are fortunate enough to score Superbowl play during the big game, soon thereafter, life in February 2012 will return pretty much to the way it was in early December 2011. You however, will be left to appraise the aftermath of your odyssey. And if you aren’t lucky enough to have your spot air during the game itself, you will reflect on the efforts you made over the previous month, and justify wether or not the efforts were worth the prize.

I really hope my perspective is appreciated here. I’d prefer not to be misunderstood. I am not trying to throw a wet towel on the party. I am being a realist. I am coming from the perspective of having been a finalist and experiencing first hand what it does to your life and the residual fallout to all of those around you. In the end, I think only those who have done what a ‘finalist’ does, and felt what a ‘finalist’ feels, can fully understand the things I’m sharing here in this paragraph. If you have never been a finalist in the CTSB, I don’t blame you for rolling your eyes. But I would bet that even CTSB immortals like the Herbert Brothers, who not only won the contest, but reaped the $1,000,000.00 brass-ring-top-prize bonus, would share that much of what I offer is frank and honest. Who knows, maybe Joe Herbert (brain behind the Herbert Brothers), will offer his two cents here at the VCK, and provide additional perspective, the likes of which only he could offer, considering their own very unique CTSB odyssey.

The King is very excited to see which spots made it to the top five. I wish I had more time to watch all of the videos submitted to the gallery, but there were just too many. I took in a little over a thousand or so. It would be very cool if I ended up being right about a few of them relative to my top ten picks below. Yes, I made a few changes in the list from when I rated them a few blog posts ago, and I know I haven’t seen all of the submissions to the gallery, so I hardly claim this to be a definitive representation of the entire gallery, but if the ones I viewed, do in fact represent the best of the crop, I would not be the least bit surprised if 2 or 3 or more of these picks ended up being in the final five.

Good Luck to you all and remember the sage advice offered by His Highness should you be chosen as a CTSB finalist.

VCK TOP 10 PICKS for the CTSB 2011-2012:
Taze The Flavor V-3
Bird Of Prey 
The Doritos Proposal
Man’s Best Friend
Doritos Triangle
She’s The One 
My Friend Archie
Don’t Cry For Me
The Tantrum
Kitty Heist
Free Sample
Magic Pitchy Catch

NOTE: As the weeks progress and as more quality videos come to the attention of The VCK, this list will occasionally change. There are currently 13 videos, which will eventually shorten to ‘ten’, after careful consideration is given to the matter. For now, enjoy all thirteen. They are all awesome videos. Special thanks to Matt Pulliam for his time/help in the matter.

The King introduces: Sir Keith Hopkin…Duke of GoPro

You should probably watch this video before reading the blog post. The context will better explain the information to follow.

Every now and again a fellow creative produces something His Highness prefers to watch, even more than even his own content. Though infrequent, it does happen. After all, I am my biggest fan.

Through this post, I hope to introduce the reader to two things.
ONE: The GoPro camera that shot the footage in the above video.
TWO: The artist behind the footage.

BTW, this video was uploaded to Vimeo late last night (about 12 hours ago), and already there are indications it is going viral in a big way. More on that, later.

The GoPro is hardly new gadgetry. It’s been around for about two years now. Yeah, I know, that something which came out in 2010 can be considered not-that-new, still sounds absurd to an old fogey like me, but if our industry has taught us anything, it’s that technology waits for no one. Considering how fast things change in the imaging world, two years is a fairly long period. Over that time frame, a friend of the Kingdom, Keith Hopkin (Sir Hopkin , Duke of everything GoPro), has regularly shared with me, the many projects he’s executed with his GoPro camera(s). I usually get a video every month or so with Keith showcasing yet another application for the camera. I would bet, by now, Keith probably knows the limitations and strengths of the camera better than even the manufacturer of the GoPro camera themselves. When I go to the GoPro website I’m mystified why they don’t have some of Keith’s footage as the greeting video. I think you’ll agree after viewing/comparing the above video with what GoPro offers on landing page.

Check out these impressive product SPECS in a camera retailing for about $300:

30, 48, 60 & 120 FPS  |  field of View: 90°, 127°, 170°  |  720p, 960p, 1080p

When you factor in the camera’s rugged durability and the places/locations/sets in which you could take, shoot and abuse it (placing/things you would never think of going/doing  with your ‘regular’ gear), I’ve come to the conclusion that the GoPro camera will soon be a common piece of equipment in the the serious freelancer’s bag of production assets (go to the website and discover the myriad of applications). The images you capture with these babies are pretty darn clean. Though we may find ourselves beholden to our Panasonic-this-or-that, or our Canon-whatch-a-ma-callit, I don’t think anyone can argue that with the right story and for the right brand, shooting a :15 or :30 spot with the GoPro as a primary or ‘sole’ camera could be the ticket to setting our work apart from the competition. No, I’m not saying we replace all of the cameras we currently use and have come to trust, but if we want an extra paint brush and a custom mixed oil color that we can pull out of our taborets when the time is right, ……well….need I say more?

The King himself is seriously thinking about picking up the of these babies (HD HERO2). I don’t think we want to overuse this tool. We should be careful not to do that, but it’s my opinion that, as long as we stay true to our own unique styles of story telling, that despite it’s distinctive ‘look’, we needn’t worry about our work looking too similar to an equally equipped peer.

Keith Hopkin
If you want to see the work of a filmmaker who is constantly striving to think ‘outside’ the box, then go to Keith’s vimeo page.  Granted, lots of Keith’s recent work is GoPro centric, but don’t we always tend to stay true to something we fall in love with? Besides, it is people like Keith who do the homework for us in areas we all end up benefitting from. Keith has directed/produced in a variety of entertainment formats ranging from music videos to commercials to short films, as he has described to me he has been fortunate to work with, “many talented actors, comedians and musicians”.

Just so you know, at the time of writing this blog post,….. Keith’s ‘Dogs in Cars’ video was/is beginning to go viral. During an email exchange we had this morning, Keith shared he’ll be doing a Skype interview with a television show called ‘Right This Minute‘. It is a show that deals with breaking news stories and viral videos (as determined from my rather cursory investigation). They are interested in showcasing Keith’s video. Seems they picked up on the buzz that’s been building over the last 12 hours or so. These guys are fast, especially in light of the fact that Keith only uploaded his video to Vimeo last night. It’s kind of cool to witness through a fellow peer and friend, the minute-by-minute that occurs when the fuse of viral video is lit.

BLOG UPDATE: Click below to see Keith’s interview on ‘Right This Minute‘.

Below are some on-location stills from a recent video Keith shot for comedian Mark Malkoff. They show the GoPro camera in action.  And when you’re done here, be sure to go to Keith’s Vimeo channel to check out more of his work. You won’t be disappointed.

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