On Contests (in general)
I know a lot of your are waiting to find out a bit more about the rules to this Canon & Vimeo film contest – not to mention the deadlines etc. For now – let me simply say: stay tuned. Once the rules and regulations do come out: you’ll have a few WEEKS to get your short film ready – fair enough? (For now -consider the Jan 15th date to be the announcement date of future details – NOT your deadline.)
Now back to the more interesting topic of “Contests.” I think it’s important for you to understand my philosophy on contests in general – for you all to have a better understanding of where I am trying to guide this next journey of ours.
When I was 15 – I entered my first photo contest at the local camera store named “Westside Camera” on 87th and Broadway in New York City … to this day I know people who once worked there (the camera store has since become a franchise…)
The contest rules were simple…
“Please enter the most original image you can come up with – something we have never seen” yada yada yada..
So off I went – with my film camera and few rolls of film – photographing my first multiple exposures on the roof of my building in Manhattan (on film!)
In other words – I had to wing the exposure and other details without the benefit of an LCD screen. I fired off a multitude of strobes (a la David Hobby) years before Pocket Wizards or TTL ever existed… it was a big risk…
Luckily – the images came out. And quite decently. And I entered them – dropping off my favorite 4 X 6 print from the roll of film that had been processed by Westside Camera. I can honestly say these were my most “daring” images of my career up to that point.
Every day – on my ride back home from school on the M86 bus – I would take the detour to see if the winner had been posted for all to see on the main window of the camera store.
For 3 weeks – I would get my transfer from the bus – and jog -not walk - towards that big storefront window – holding my breath the entire way…
Finally – it happened.
The winner was announced.
The winning image was of:
A palm tree at sunset – in Hawaii.
Yes – a silhouette of a palm tree… at sunset…
Need I say more?
Since then – I have had the honor of judging a few dozen prestigious contests – in photography, design and film.
All I can say is: if you make it within the top 3 – you’ve succeeded.
Whether you’re #1, #3 or #2 – is pretty much completely irrelevant – any judge will tell you.
At that point – it’s utterly subjective. In fact judges will at times make “deals” – i.e. you gave 1st place in this category – it’s my turn to give first place in this other category…
Point being: The upcoming contest will be about doing our best to find TRUE talent.
Play it safe: and I hope you really nail it cold.
Take chances and maybe have an imperfect camera move or performance – and expect the judges to reward you for pushing the envelope and for “swinging for the fences…”
You can only fail if you try to excel – after all…
You will fail if you stay in your comfort zone.
I will always reward people who take chances and try to do something that’s never done before – not those that execute something absolutely perfectly – that we’ve all seen before.