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…

I digress.

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.