Amazing Opportunity or Insult to Film Makers?

First let me just remind you that the opinions posted here are mine and mine alone………….

I came across this via Facebook. Genero. The people talking about it were excited about possibly having the opportunity to produce a video for a known music artist or a TV commercial for a household brand. It’s described as a competition. You chose the artist or product, make a video and enter the contest. The winning production becomes an official video for the song or gets used as a commercial for the product. The reward is… “amazing opportunities to advance their careers and work alongside top artists and brands” plus a cash “prize” of up to $4k.

OK, at first glance this looks like a good thing, but is it? I’m not at all convinced. So you go off and put a lot of time, effort and creativity into your video and enter it in to the contest. Some of the contests get in excess of 500 entries, so your chance of winning may be small. Take a look at some of the previous winners, these have taken massive amounts of time and effort. Lets say you win. You get $4K in your pocket and can list a video for a major brand or music artist in your resume. Meanwhile, the artist or brand walks away with 100% of the rights to a cherry picked video that will become a vehicle for selling and promoting that song or product, basically it will (or at least should) make them money either directly or indirectly. There are several quotes from some of the companies involved, like this one from Adam Starr of Universal Music: “I still marvel at the quality of the winning video, that wildly exceeded expectations, and provided Universal with a valuable marketing and revenue generating asset”. I think that just about sums up this “competition”

Typically the starting price for even a basic commercial production is $15K and the sky is the limit. The winners in this competition are not the aspiring producers but the bands and multi-national companies. They get novel, creative, beautifully executed videos for a fraction of what they would normally have to pay. Looking at some of the previous winners, these video would have normally cost a company like Universal $50K+.

So what about the producers, will it lead to fame and fortune? For a start, in producing your film you don’t get to “work alongside artists and brands”. You submit a video that you make, the band or artist does not know who you are and you can’t ring them up to discuss you ideas. Maybe for a few winners it will open some doors, but doors to what? An industry that now only wants to pay $4K for commercials because if you won’t do it for that they can just run another competition. How will anyone make any money let alone fame and fortune. If it takes you a couple of weeks to make the video and remember you have to include the time it takes to come up with the concept, plan the shoot, shoot, edit and post produce (and they want broadcast quality deliverables). By the time you’ve taken out the costs of any equipment and the costs of any talent, locations or premises (even if you edit at home, that space still has a cost) the amount of money you’ll make is next to nothing.

I think this “competition” is insulting to film makers. I understand the film festival movie making industry. You make the film you want to make, to show off your skills and abilities. You (or your sponsors) own that film, any profits made come back to you. But in my opinion this is closer to a scam than a real competition because the real winners are not the entrants but Genero along with the artists and multi-nationals that get great video’s (that will make them money) for almost nothing. The principle is great, but the prize does not reflect what it costs to produce a commercial. The prize money isn’t actually a prize at all. In fact it is payment for 100% of the rights in the production. In my view the prize should be either a lot, lot bigger or also include a share of the proceeds from the profits the video makes. I urge anyone considering entering this competition to read the terms and conditions very, very carefully. If you win, you have to give up all rights in the video you produce, you won’t get anything beyond the prize money. And as for the Genero market place? Well with people giving away some very high quality productions for as little as $400 you would be better of taking your project to a conventional stock footage library. This is nothing more than a thinly disguised tender process for a commercial video production with a budget of $3K-$5K.

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