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Monday, 6 December 2010

Professionals in Competitions...what do we think?

Rightly or wrongly, recent events have again caused controversy to raise its ugly head in Planet Comping. The issue of people in the filming industry entering video competitions and raking in prize after prize has been raised, and is an interesting area for debate. So in a purely hypothetical way I aim to question this topical phenomenom. The terms and conditions of competitions do not say that entrants in certain areas of employment are exempt from entering competitions. But, although not against the rules, do we think it is ethical or moral for people in the industry to use comping as a lucrative sideline?



My first concern is that these entrants are not part of the community that we enthusiasts call home. As we join up to Facebook groups and 'like' the promoters' pages, getting involved in commenting and generally enthusing and sharing the competition (...and therefore promoting the company hosting the competition, which is the aim of the marketing team who run them...) they can hide away anonymously, often adopting various nicknames unlinked to their professional self, taking no part in the proceedings other than producing their entry and uploading it. It is quite a sterile process aimed solely at winning, with none of the heart of us amateur enthusiasts who engage with the promoters' banter in an open forum. Again, nothing illegal here, just not in the spirit of the process that we know and love.



Obviously the capability of someone with access to top of the range cameras and editing suites is way in advance of us amateurs with our flips. Someone who is, for example, a video producer will know all the tricks of the trade to produce 30 seconds of top quality, celluloid gold. Will companies be seduced by these anonymous, slick, beautifully produced videos with crystal clear sound production? Of course they will. And they are. The danger is that the average enthusiast will stop entering, knowing that their own efforts produced at home on their Flip in real time just won't be good enough. Will a good idea with lots of effort put into it, win out over an MTV worthy finished piece? Probably not. Much like the voting competitions, where average people fear to tread, due to the presence of the masters of vote courting, we will see genuine FB likers put off, knowing it's a done deal before the competition even begins.



As Facebookers, we are transparent in our activity. People can see who we are and what we do. A lot of the reasons why we enter competitons is for the experience, the fun, the sense of community. Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful to win a prize, but that isn't the sole motivation. To distance yourself from this and to remain anonymous is a luxury we don't have. By setting up various Youtube accounts, under comp specific nicknames, to keep previous successful winning videos and current entries separate, and using different faces in videos, individuals are allowed to win over and over again, without anyone realising that the videos all come from one source. You could argue this is just good tactics. Who are we to say that this method of comping is any less worthy than our own? Are we in danger of becoming the Facebook Gestapo by assigning ourselves the role of moral highgrounders based on our own beliefs? Or are we simply acting out of frustration knowing that competition promoters are awarding prizes without realising the origins of the entrants...or indeed possibly not even caring? Either way. a little transparency and honesty in this area would make such activity look less suspicious. If there is nothing to hide, why cover your tracks to avoid videos being linked?



I am all for judging things on merit. I am a big believer of letting the best man win, but if the judging does not take into consideration the individual's effort based not just on slick production, we will soon be marginalised by the pros. Where success is based on views, a pro with hundreds and thousands of upload views will wipe the floor with someone like me who gets excited if my view count goes into double figures! However, if the promoter will be getting a video entry that would cost thousands of pounds to commission independently, you could argue that this is a mutually beneficial outcome. Entrant wins, for example, a top of the range household appliance, promoter gets a top notch video to display on their website. Win, win???



Maybe the inclusion of these quality entries will raise the profile of this hobby, make it appear less embarrassing to admit to! Is it a good thing that people with the potential to create great things want to be involved in this activity? There is nothing worse than seeing poor, ill-conceived entries winning competitions based on vote exchanges. I would applaud the inclusion of better entries. as long as it is done with integrity. It doesn't take much research to track an individuals' online activity. When it becomes apparent that someone with huge talent is attempting to work below the radar, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. As I said before, if it's not wrong, why hide it?



There is of course the possibility that someone in the industry would enjoy this hobby as much as us amateurs. Perhaps to them it is an outlet for more frivilous pursuits, an opportunity to hone their craft in a new and exciting forum. In which case, who are we too criticize or question? Using your skills to their maximum advantage is what we all try to do. But would Manchester Utd enter a team for a local 5-a-side football match? Would Delia have entered the Tesco Recipe Comp? Would Tom Jones enter Britain's Got Talent? Would Freddie Flintoff field a test team in a local village CC match? No...it just wouldn't be cricket!

8 comments:

  1. Just found your blog again after seeing you do a twitter link! Oh my gosh, I am GOBSMACKED at some of the things that you have put. Here's my honest/confused answer for what it is worth!

    I think competitions where you have to get votes is grossly unfair, the competition we were in to win a car had me quite literally going round the rugby club asking people to vote for me. I cringed whilst asking, as that is so not me, but at the end of the day, we don't have a car and the club needed the money. The end result was that I won a car and the Rugby club £5k (which we are BOTH so, so greateful for as you know). However, I am glad that it went to the public vote as I didn't realise that "my" video had been watched on youtube nearly 10,000 (!!!!) times. I must have got 300 votes from friends/family/social media asks from Mumsnet/Twitter so that is a hell of a lot of random voters who thought we were worthy of a vote. Was SHOCKED when someone told me that. Plus I am still being interviewed (BBC 14th Jan) which I wasn't expecting but I guess the price you pay for winning something so big. Was VERY naieve in that respect.

    However, I do believe that competitions should be won by Joe Public, NOT serial competition enterers who just join facebook pages/blogs/tweet links in order to reap a prize. I have nothing against people entering lots of competitions if they are relevant. Since winning the car, I have entered a few on mummy blogs and one of my tweets won me a £50 beauty voucher!!!!!!!!! However, a few mummybloggers have said that they rapidly stop follwing people who just tweet competition links all day long and that it becomes wallpaper.

    Not sure how you could limit on being in the profession - how can you say that joe average who is a serial competition enteree is more worthy than a professional film maker? The answer is, you can't as both are doing it to win a prize. I know you say that you enjoy the creativity, but surely it must be the buzz of winning that makes you do it? Otherwise why would you enter and then publish your results??? It must take up so much time??

    On the other hand, having NEVER entered anything in my adult life and winning, I am now seriously thinking about entering more. It would be lovely to win some bits for my family and as you know, money is seriously tight with setting up new businesses.

    Aarrggh - I don't know is the answer!!!! Would be interested to see what other people think.

    Love Sophie xx

    PS you write so, so eloquently!

    ReplyDelete
  2. OH MY GOSH - Didn't realise I had wrote an essay!

    ReplyDelete
  3. As a stay at home mum, I find the whole blogging, comping, social network thing a real godsend. I really do find that having these "hobbies" gives me an outlet to do things I would not otherwise do. It offers direction and a new perspective on the part of everyday life that does not revolve around the kids and the home. Otherwise it would be Jeremy Kyle and a packet of biccies while my brain stagnates!! My sister and my mum enjoy entering now off the back of the VW competition. My mum keeps saying who would've thought at her age she'd be making videos for the internet! It's a buzz. Obviously, the validation you feel from winning is a real thrill. The prizes often seem less thrilling than the initial realisation that your entry has been chosen. Saying that, I was thrilled to win a Toyologist giveaway which means my children will have a lovely surprise on Christmas morning!! I've promised to review and blog about the toys which is another element to the whole experience. It extends beyond just entering to win. It's about opportunities. I've been lucky enough to attend both the clothes and food shows at the NEC thanks to wins, and again have used the experiences as blogging material! The pushchair review I'm doing for Graco is a real adventure. I'm loving it! And I've met some wonderful people on my journey. We'd never have crossed paths otherwise :) To me, my motivation is not greed. It's an excuse to do some interesting, exciting things in a vibrant community, with the added element of the odd prize or two along the way to reward your committment and effort. Give it a go Sophie...but be choosy and enjoy the ride!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a great blog post Wendy, although perhaps the title is misleading. I know many of my friends consider me to be a 'professional comper' as, along with being a mum, it's my full-time job now! What you're referring to is professionals (in whatever field, be it film, music, photography, whatever...) masquerading as amateurs to enter (and win) competitions- so perhaps it should be 'Professionals Comping', ha ha!
    The particular person referred to in this post is someone who recently beat me in a competition by gaining a thousand or so views of his (deliberately amateurish) video. Every time I managed to scrape together a hundred more views of mine, he would zoom ahead in a matter of minutes! Commenting on his entry he claimed 'Would love to win this for my mum' but after receiving his Samsung Navibot prize, he was selling it on eBay. Nothing wrong with selling prizes on eBay of course, but there was no need to lie about your reason for entering!
    As a Graphic Designer I do have an advantage in certain competitions as I have experience in Photoshop and iMovie (although that's all self taught), but I've always been open and honest about my previous wins and would never be secretive....after all, people will always find you out!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well said Di...I'll amend the title a little. (Although of course my post is purely hypothetical!) ;)

    I Remember being accused of being a "professional comper" in the VW comp not so long ago, by a fellow finalsist.

    I just like to conduct myself with a level of integrity, and would hope that others would do the same. Oh, the naivety!! But, these dangling prize carrots bring out the worst in some people :(

    ReplyDelete
  6. As a stay at home mum, I find the whole blogging, comping, social network thing a real godsend. I really do find that having these "hobbies" gives me an outlet to do things I would not otherwise do. It offers direction and a new perspective on the part of everyday life that does not revolve around the kids and the home. Otherwise it would be Jeremy Kyle and a packet of biccies while my brain stagnates!! My sister and my mum enjoy entering now off the back of the VW competition. My mum keeps saying who would've thought at her age she'd be making videos for the internet! It's a buzz. Obviously, the validation you feel from winning is a real thrill. The prizes often seem less thrilling than the initial realisation that your entry has been chosen. Saying that, I was thrilled to win a Toyologist giveaway which means my children will have a lovely surprise on Christmas morning!! I've promised to review and blog about the toys which is another element to the whole experience. It extends beyond just entering to win. It's about opportunities. I've been lucky enough to attend both the clothes and food shows at the NEC thanks to wins, and again have used the experiences as blogging material! The pushchair review I'm doing for Graco is a real adventure. I'm loving it! And I've met some wonderful people on my journey. We'd never have crossed paths otherwise :) To me, my motivation is not greed. It's an excuse to do some interesting, exciting things in a vibrant community, with the added element of the odd prize or two along the way to reward your committment and effort. Give it a go Sophie...but be choosy and enjoy the ride!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a great blog post Wendy, although perhaps the title is misleading. I know many of my friends consider me to be a 'professional comper' as, along with being a mum, it's my full-time job now! What you're referring to is professionals (in whatever field, be it film, music, photography, whatever...) masquerading as amateurs to enter (and win) competitions- so perhaps it should be 'Professionals Comping', ha ha!
    The particular person referred to in this post is someone who recently beat me in a competition by gaining a thousand or so views of his (deliberately amateurish) video. Every time I managed to scrape together a hundred more views of mine, he would zoom ahead in a matter of minutes! Commenting on his entry he claimed 'Would love to win this for my mum' but after receiving his Samsung Navibot prize, he was selling it on eBay. Nothing wrong with selling prizes on eBay of course, but there was no need to lie about your reason for entering!
    As a Graphic Designer I do have an advantage in certain competitions as I have experience in Photoshop and iMovie (although that's all self taught), but I've always been open and honest about my previous wins and would never be secretive....after all, people will always find you out!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Just found your blog again after seeing you do a twitter link! Oh my gosh, I am GOBSMACKED at some of the things that you have put. Here's my honest/confused answer for what it is worth!

    I think competitions where you have to get votes is grossly unfair, the competition we were in to win a car had me quite literally going round the rugby club asking people to vote for me. I cringed whilst asking, as that is so not me, but at the end of the day, we don't have a car and the club needed the money. The end result was that I won a car and the Rugby club £5k (which we are BOTH so, so greateful for as you know). However, I am glad that it went to the public vote as I didn't realise that "my" video had been watched on youtube nearly 10,000 (!!!!) times. I must have got 300 votes from friends/family/social media asks from Mumsnet/Twitter so that is a hell of a lot of random voters who thought we were worthy of a vote. Was SHOCKED when someone told me that. Plus I am still being interviewed (BBC 14th Jan) which I wasn't expecting but I guess the price you pay for winning something so big. Was VERY naieve in that respect.

    However, I do believe that competitions should be won by Joe Public, NOT serial competition enterers who just join facebook pages/blogs/tweet links in order to reap a prize. I have nothing against people entering lots of competitions if they are relevant. Since winning the car, I have entered a few on mummy blogs and one of my tweets won me a £50 beauty voucher!!!!!!!!! However, a few mummybloggers have said that they rapidly stop follwing people who just tweet competition links all day long and that it becomes wallpaper.

    Not sure how you could limit on being in the profession - how can you say that joe average who is a serial competition enteree is more worthy than a professional film maker? The answer is, you can't as both are doing it to win a prize. I know you say that you enjoy the creativity, but surely it must be the buzz of winning that makes you do it? Otherwise why would you enter and then publish your results??? It must take up so much time??

    On the other hand, having NEVER entered anything in my adult life and winning, I am now seriously thinking about entering more. It would be lovely to win some bits for my family and as you know, money is seriously tight with setting up new businesses.

    Aarrggh - I don't know is the answer!!!! Would be interested to see what other people think.

    Love Sophie xx

    PS you write so, so eloquently!

    ReplyDelete

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