May 12, 2010

Politics of Popularity

Whether I'm to be eliminated this week in the Yobi Filmmaking Competition or I'm to make the final two of the entire season, things have taken an interesting turn this round. After receiving a handful of negative comments both personally and on my profile, then realizing that the audio was out of sync in the highlight video recap for the round, I naturally began thinking that a few people were out to get me - and by that I mean just really wanted me to lose.

This has always been the issue with 'popular vote' contests as far as I've seen. People get their feelings hurt because the contest is really about who can best promote their work. I've experienced this time and time again where I've been sidelined - in fact, I felt this way in Yobi Film last year with my short the Gizmo Tree. I haven't discussed it much, but my choice behind pushing my short The Geology Student to the finals this year was as much about submitting something different as it was anything else.
The Geology Student was first made for a film class as a character study, and more than anything it's a parody of itself. It's campy, it's amateur, it's completely out of context - it's why I enjoy it so much. A bad educational film has never required less facts or purpose; love it or hate it the short isn't trying to sway or convince you of anything and in this contest in particular, I think it's the projects strength.

If this was the only film I'd ever made I'd better understand the frustration from those who I've played a role in eliminating, but this is merely 1 out of 100 other projects I've done. It's as much an experiment and test for myself to see how this short will do in competition - and so far, it's done amazingly well.
I understand completely why some throw their hands up in disgust (no one likes to lose) but like I said previously, this is about who can best promote their work. Individually, just like I'm doing now, we can all make cases for why we deserve the win, but it's actually nice to take comfort in the fact that winning here is pretty clearly defined - most votes wins. If you lose, you can sum it up to the fact you didn't get enough people to vote for you. Even if I lose this round, no one can say that I didn't make an effort to advertise - obviously. That is after all the point of the contest.

In addition to all this, from a creative standpoint the finals are technically about judging each filmmaker's entire Yobi profile. A platform that I've taken full advantage of by uploading over 10 shorts (massing over half a million views and counting). Anyone truly upset about The Geology Student advancing need only click my 'Other Entries' to see a range of other styles and edits that I've done. And hey, you've somehow found yourself on my blog, it's even easier to see what I'm talking about here - look around!

It's such a sensitive situation when you're competing with people that you can't even see. I at least put my face at the top of my blog so you have an idea who's writing. In any case, if this is the end of my finals experience this season I have no regrets. But, until I'm officially eliminated don't expect me to give up without a fight. Top 3 doesn't just happen by accident and I certainly won't apologize for it. In fact, let me instead say thank you to all of you who have supported and who continue to support me. This entire competition (win or lose) is just another great experience that you've helped me have.

I can't express my appreciation enough.

See my Yobi Profile here.


Angry Charlie said...

Well said, sir! These people who make comments on your videos without showing anything for it (their own) are those that wish they had half the talent you do.

It's easy to let you're emotions get in the way in competitions (I've been there with you) but in the end it's not the money or the credit that will stand the test of time, but their reactions and integrity that will define who they are. If this 'Bernard' guy from Yobi ever makes anything good enough to get even close to where you are in seasons to come, you can sure as hell bet he won't have enough friends or votes to get him any further. Best of luck with the rest of the competition!

Editing Luke said...

Thanks for the comment Tyler.

This is much more than any one person though - it's the nature of the contest. Your comment reminded me of the Sasktel competition where we were both in the finals and how awkward that became. There was just as much negativity going around in the preliminary rounds. Ultimately, wins were decided by votes though. I don't even remember what the first place film was - but was it the best? It doesn't matter, they had the most support and that's what they needed to get. Votes don't come easy.

I think we talked about that competition to death, and as that was your first big 'public vote' contest you can see my point.

No one is getting a free ride because just having people sign up and vote is a challenge. If you campaign enough to get the votes to make it to the end, I say that's commendable - and after all these voting film festivals I've been a part of, I'm comfortable knowing that it's just the way the game works.

Anonymous said...

Hey Luke
My comments were mostly directed towards the quality of the work that has made it to Top 3. I truly believe that most of the better films in the contest were eliminated long ago. What is left is mediocre. Take this comment in whatever way you like, but I am expressing my opinion. I have never doubted your passion and energy to make films, and I am well aware of your blog and other work, including the Gizmo Tree from last year, when you barely missed the finals.
When I said that I hope your work improves, I said that because I feel that there is something missing in your work. Mostly an essence. Your Geology Student, similar to some other films of yours is covered with brightly edited images, fast cuts, catchy phrases or sound effects. It is very forgetful and I don’t think it really has an essence. The peeping tom video makes a point about surveillance and big brother (even though it’s just a collection of stock footage) while the other film is about life and death and memories. Trust me, I don’t think any of them are particularly great.
Now, I don’t just want to criticize you. I liked the Alphabet film, and I think it was well written, not sure if the images were of any relation to the spoken words, but I liked the words…
I have noticed that you don’t work too much with other people, most of your work is in-house production. Maybe that’s your style, but I wish you would go out and experience working with actors or other people. It would give you a wider perspective on things and maybe improve your work. That’s my opinion, maybe not your way of doing things.
And on the comment that I need to show my work in order to express an opinion… I do not completely agree with that. Most of the people that vote for awards have never made a film in their life, however that does not prevent them from having a strong judgment. So I think my judgment is as valid as that of people who support you work (and have never made a film).
Anyway, long story short, I wrote this to tell you that my comment was not just a ‘hater’ comment. I did take time to look at your work.
If you do not make it to the end this year and enter Yobi again next year with a film that I will feel will speak to me I will gladly support it till the end.

Editing Luke said...

Bernnard, I want to thank you for your indepth and honest response. Your criticism is fair and insightful, and for that I pose no complaint.

While you're correct that much of my personal work is in-house or on a smaller scale - it's more out of my motivation to create on a regular basis than it is out of avoidance. A number of my shorts are small group efforts that are simply created as web-based content - Educated Detours, Buick to the Future, Elliot, etc. Taking into account that I make the most of my location - there isn't a lot of resources to draw on.

I think it's easy to quickly assume that many things have just fallen in to place - my work or style for example - without recognizing the thought process behind it. I'm not claiming to rewrite history here, I'm just saying that there are connections and themes that everyone responds to differently. While you may not see them similarily, that's an ongoing challenge for any artist.

Alphabet, for instance, uses Autumn and falling leaves as symbols of lost memories - a patchwork of first school days long gone and forgotten.

I'm certainly not against social commentary (see Keys to Existence or A Chill in the Air) but, video is a medium that I like to explore for the sake of the medium. Like painting on a canvas just to see the paint, sometimes I edit just to see the rhythm, cuts, etc. I've always viewed video as an editor.

I stand by my work, my approach, and the lessons that have shaped the filmmaker/editor I'm continually becoming - however, I can also use more honest feedback (even if I disagree with parts of it). I really do take your words as further motivation.

Jeff T. said...

You certainly don't need to make movies to have an opinion, but I think it takes someone who has actually done what they're critiquing to really appreciate the skill involved. I paint so I've had my share of bad reviews too that I didn't agree with.

Luke, I've been to your site several times now and I think it's cool how you try a bunch of different types of movies. You've made a fan of me.

Editing Luke said...

Thanks, Jeff!