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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