Posts filed under ‘crowdsourcing’

Exposure or Exploitation?

I was reading the Utne Reader recently and I came across an pretty ad for Fluevog with an artist’s drawing.

The accompanying text read:

“Do you have the world’s best Fluevog Ad stuck in your head? Get it out at”.

I went to the url and read that this contest was offering $1,000 (in Fluevog gear) and exposure to the winning ad artists.

So…. is an ad worth only $1,000 and will the exposure really benefit the artist?

My initial reaction is “probably not”, because I have concerns when it comes to artists and contests. And because my antennae prick up when I hear the word “exposure”.

See, “exposure” is a woefully overused term. It is a huge “incentive” (really need the quotation marks there) offered in the indie film world – especially directed at actors:

“Work for free (and coffee!) on our production. Great opportunity for exposure!”

Now, granted, the Fluevog ads are being placed in decent magazines – so this is actual exposure, for what it’s worth, as opposed to imagined (many films don’t see the light of day as their filmmakers don’t fully grasp the challenges of getting their film into a festival).  And the winners also get bios on the Fluevog creative site (e.g. the ad I saw featured Heather Mulligan’s art and her bio is on the site).

But is there a true value for the artist in said exposure? This is not a rhetorical question. I would be interested in an unbiased follow up to this type of contest. It is entirely possible that someone else would notice the ad and hire the artist for a project.  But is it likely? How many of the ads/artists will there really be a success story for? I’d sincerely like to learn what happens.

The prize amount irks me a bit, though.  An ad results in $1,000 of product for the artists – which , by the way, in Fluevog dollars equals… about 2 pairs of shoes (perhaps less)?  Fluevog could reasonably pay more reasonably. (Of course, I can never wrap my head around purchasing shoes that are $400+, so my understanding of the value factor is clearly limited.  Oh wait, the value is only $1,000 no matter how much you love the shoes! OK, I’ll proceed then.)

In the Fluevog case, it also strikes me that the exposure might benefit one party to a degree greater than the other. The ad showcases Fleuvog. The artist’s concept is secondary – although I commend Fluevog for actual including in the creative, in addition to the artist’s name, their url (something I’ve rarely seen). (The ad I saw provided the link to Heather Mulligan’s Deviant Art page: )

Of course, on the plus side, the artist may not get magazine ad level exposure were it not for the contest (and, in this case, I’m assuming that the exposure might have some value, which of course, is still up for discussion).  And the artist could very well re-purpose something they already created (although I haven’t checked the rules on that) and just plug in a shoe or the name Fluevog or what not, and Boom!, ad created. So it may not, in fact, involve a huge effort on their part.

And, of course, there is the fact that here I am, & Pete is, talking about it. So the “tactic” is working, in some respect. (Although, again, perhaps more for Fluevog?)

But back to the bad side: Fluevog gets the ad(s) created for far less than they would pay an agency to create, and the art for far less than a fair price: I think this serves to devalue at both industries.

Now, I understand that nobody can be exploited in these cases without their consent. The artists have to agree and do the work – and the transaction seems to be clear. That said, the lure of “exposure” is a strong one – especially for artists – who sometimes encounter difficulties in terms of getting paid to do what they love.

Your thoughts? You might also consider weighing in Pete’s post on One Degree.

*At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I should note that I work on and enter contests. Obviously for those I don’t see the imbalance as much – although there’s always the possibility cognitive dissonance could be at play.

I have also written about the topic of artists, contests and crowdsourcing on the following posts:

Please, Sir, Can I Have Another

Contests for Artists

January 11, 2011 at 9:18 am 5 comments

Getting the Crowd to “Make” Your Film – e.g. “Lost Zombies”

Crowdsourcing has become an exciting concept in the business world.  (I’ve explored the concept of Crowdsourcing many times before – if you’re interested in my views on the topic, the best place to look is my One Degree series.  Other posts on the topic can be found in the “Crowdsourcing” category of this blog)

What’s exciting is that some innovative filmmakers are also making use of this concept.

Several projects are now getting content from the crowds (e.g. Lost Zombies), Crowdfunding (e.g. My Million Dollar Movie), and even making an “open-sourced” feature film (e.g. Swarm of Angels (I wouldn’t recommend the latter tactic, btw, but I’ve been wrong before).

The beauty of this is that engages the audience – creates a dialogue:

“I believe the Internet has created a kind of conversation that we are all involved with.  We‘ve gotten used to that level of interaction. It‘s rewarding. Now we want that experience from our media.” Lost Zombies encourages its fans to document their own zombie encounters. In just a matter of weeks the community has grown to more than 400 active members with contributed materials flowing in from all over the world.” (- Lance Weiler.  From Filmmaker Magazine: “When The Audience Takes Control : Lance Weiler breaks down the new models independent filmmakers are using to create a fan base.”  Read this, btw – it’s excellent)

In this TCIBR podcast – Lost Zombies & Skot Leach (co-director of the film – along with his brother Ryan) (Listen on the Workbook Project site)

(Source: The Workbook Project )

(Questions asked by Lance Weiler, responses provided by Skot Leach)
(FYI, I am paraphrasing a great deal here)
– Community Generated Zombie Film
– Film made my the crowds “Zombie Documentary”
– Audience looking for more involvement, engagement
– Wanted to get people to contribute short bursts
– Chose Zombie theme – figured that could work, be enjoyable

Call to action?

  • Zombie site – Created in Ning
  • Users Create Profile –
  • Submit Zombie encounter in whatever format (video, pictures or any media type) – Zombie outbreaks
  • All encounters considered rumors, until more “outbreaks” of each location are submitted then considered “confirmed”

Structure? Storyline?

  • There is a structure, storyline
  • All will be compiled into an overall film with these media
  • Will also be influenced by audience
  • Process?

How to organize/rights w/ such a large crowd?

  • Timeline – will look at what is appropriate
  • Not clear re: distribution track, esp. w/ rights issues, will look at when complete and possibly go back and talk to content creators

Building a community (as with gaming) economies come around them, could be release for free, but could monetize content around it?

  • Leaning towards that
  • Original vision involved ending up

Explain Ning to those unfamiliar?

  • Blank template, like Facebook, allows you to build entire social network, invite your own users, define interface
  • Can add widgets to tweek to your needs

Open Data portability issues? Can you pull user data, so you have it?

  • Simply put, Yes.
  • Provided Framework, but users info is yours
  • Some people joined just to be part of social network (loved Zombies), without contributing
  • Audience before content
  • Compelling enough with Ning to retain audience while you flesh out story
  • Double-edged sword – Want to tell story, point of site, and don’t necessarily want people to be so caught up in the social aspect that they ignore story

Dealing with crowds – what has been interesting, surprising?

  • How quickly people “got it”
  • Knew ARG community likes to piece things together – wondered if horror fans would get what they should do
  • Very quickly people start
  • Tweeted Ning’s feature re location – renamed “outbreaks”
  • And then people started really working with that, posting photos, videos
  • They also found news items and related (“someone bit at a party, this seems odd? – Could this be zombie related?)
  • People discovered they could contribute in their own unique way (asking question, posting audio files, drawings, video)
  • Like a conversation

As project grows, any plans, ideas of breaking into “real world”

  • Exploring:
    • Possibility of live video editing/mixing, remix story – so each time you see the film it’s pulled in a different way
    • Interested in “Zombie walks” – a final event where site culminates in a final live event e.g. Zombie Apocalypse where zombie walks the world (people participate by documenting etc.)

How to get involved with this film?

  • Go to LostZombies
  • Sign up
  • – Participate – submit items or even direct story by asking questions

Interactivity becoming norm?

  • More immersive progression. Videogames, ARGs rise shows that the audience is ready to experience these types of things
  • Audience members can determine the pace, level they participate (observe, do a little, do plenty)
  • Playful, interactive quality

– These are social experience – like theatrical –  Commununal Experience.  People falsely believe that online = alienation.  But now people are their own media company (can publish, upload video etc. and immediately can be seen around the world – just a matter of aggregating audience to it.  Mirrors theatrical, 2-way communicational.  These types of projects are very exciting.

Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.


March 4, 2009 at 7:40 am 2 comments

Casting 2.0 – For Filmmakers

Looking for talent online is becoming increasingly popular.  You can find actors for a few parts, one part, or even most of your cast online.  paranoid-park

Here are the benefits and drawbacks, as I see them:


  • You can find people that are talented and unique.
  • You gain attention for your film


  • May get plenty of lame videos
  • Might not get enough videos to cast (there’s much competing for attention, and someone really has to invest time to put up a good video)
  • Must focus on publicizing this call
  • Effort-intensive
  • If you are going only by audience votes (& I’d recommend against this strategy) you are likely to end up with either the most popular (but not necessarily the best, or your preference) or the one who can rally the most friends to vote for him.
  • You might find someone perfect but who doesn’t live in the town you’re shooting.

So what to do?


Don’t cast everyone online.

It will make your life unnecessarily difficult. Odds are, if you’re a filmmaker, you know many talented people.  That said, there may be 1 or two hard to cast parts, and that’s when you should put out an online call

Try to look at the call from the auditioners point of view

Keep in mind:

  • There are many such calls out there.  Some are legitimate, some are just a way for the filmmaker to get more attention for his/her film.
  • It takes effort and time for an auditioner to record an good audition.
  • You might love your premise and film, but the actor (and audience) has no such attachment.


  • you have to make your call as interesting and appealing as possible (ain’t this always my suggestion)
  • Make sure your site/page contains as much information about your production, team crew as is relevant, helpful.  This not the time to brag/exaggerate.  This is the time to put forth links to your profile and other sites, videos etc. that verify your legistimacy.   If you have a solid short film online (Hello, YouTube again… ) this will help – in fact, embed a relevant video in the “about” page.

Figure out if you’ll be letting the audience vote.

Voting engages people (think American Idol etc.) but you may not wish to be stuck with who people decide. (Especially since not everyone pays fair.) Consider allowing people to vote for their favorites and have an “audience favorite” who is guaranteed a role, and your favorite who will get the role.  Or offer prizes for people to vote, but with similar caveat.

Consider Location – or how to accommodate

Sure, you run the risk of finding awesome talent who might not live in your area, but consider if this is really a concern:

  1. If so, limit the call to people in a certain region
  2. If only slightly, you might pay for their flight and find them a safe place to stay during shoot – doesn’t have to be luxury hotel, sometimes a guest room works. (1)

How to do it?

There are a whole bunch of ways to make this work.  Here’s what I think works best – and is most efficient. (But it is certainly time and effort-consuming.)

Have a place/home where this film/call lives.

  • Ideally start a specific site (purchase a domain name for your film, so if your film is Credo the site is, casting = or Credocasting  as a home.  This is the place where all the information will be & will be aggregated.
  • Have links on this site to other places online that the film/call exists (Youtube, Twitter, Facebook etc.)

Then expand outwards.

  • Use your blog to help promote and discuss (at various stages)
  • Put a call out on various social networks (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Myspace)
  • As I understand, running an official contest on YouTube (“Community”) is expensive), so it might be best to just set up a group and get people to become members of a group (basically one click) to submit their videos (once uploaded to YouTube)


Gus Van Sant used MySpace page to find some talent for Paranoid Park.

“[W]hen it comes to finding quirky unknowns , Casting Society of America board member Laura Adler says internet searches are fast becoming a go-to tool among her colleagues. She cites Christopher Mintz-Plasse, for example, who landed the role of “McLovin” in Superbad after casting agents spotted his clips on YouTube. “It’s a great tool for finding new faces,” she says. “Casting people use MySpace or FaceBook or Craigslist when they’re looking for an unknown young talent who’s odd or unique. You run the risk of getting bombarded by tons of people who aren’t right for the role but we get that anyway, on a daily basis.” (from “Filmmakers Find Fresh Talent on MySpace “)

Ning is a social site where you can create your own social network/niche. (E.g. a Facebook of sorts for a particular interest):

“One of the most popular Ning networks belongs to hip-hop mogul 50 Cent and has 107,000 members and counting. Chris “Broadway” Romero, creative director of new media for Fitty’s site, describes it as “an entertainment-industry news/rumor/editorial blog in the vein of, combined with unparalleled access and interaction with the celebrity.” Romero uses the site to cast parts for music videos and film projects, and one day, he hopes to release music and video directly to the public, bypassing record companies completely. To Romero, it’s nothing less than “a new entertainment platform, period.” A single Ning group can, in theory, serve as a platform for an entire business; collectively, the networks represent an ever-expanding commercial universe. (From Fast Company: “Ning’s Infinite Ambition




Be upfront.  And make certain that you have a decent online reputation to help allay concerns.

Established a real relationship with people you cast, or plan to cast and be sure you’re not a… scuzzy.  (Sorry, can’t help you if you are).  Again, try to put yourself in the auditioners shoes.

Again here, I make the assumption that both the filmmaker and the actor is educating themselves – looking into  someone’s background online as well as checking references etc. before meeting/staying with them or allowing someone to stay at their place.

There are many sites that address safety concerns especially with regards to acting – so I’ll keep this brief – note to actors:

  1. Never be desperate (yes, this seems impossible, at times, but trust me)
  2. Trust your instincts
  3. Never let someone convince you to do something that makes you uncomfortable
  4. Be kind but upfront, ask someone to provide references (especially female references, if you’re a woman) so you can confirm your own safety.  Anyone who would balk about this has their own issues. (Personal note: I developed a similar rule when I was dating: learned to say I was not comfortable going to a guy’s house early on. If they became jerky, I knew exactly who I was dealing with.)


Want more articles about artists? I have a whole series here.


Casting 2.0 for Filmmakers” by Monica Hamburg

March 3, 2009 at 1:41 pm 3 comments

Hmm, Does this Twitter Thing Really Work…?

For Twitter skeptics:

This morning, social media stud, Kris Krug (@kk on Twitter) Twittered about “Phones for Fearless! Donate your old phones to change lives“.

Just so you know, Kris Krug has about 2,183  people following him (i.e. subscribed to his Twitter messages), others reposting the message, like Tris Hussey (@trishussey) have similar numbers.  Some have even more than that(!) and others have significantly less, but may still be in several hundred category. Now there is some overlap – some know the same people – but certainly everyone has many unique people “following”.

So, because I think the picture here tells a better story than my blathering, here you go – just since an hour ago on Twitter.  (I searched the term “old phones” in Twitter Search because that seemed to be a commonality to the way people ReTweeted, i.e. re-posted on Twitter).  What you’re looking here at is in reverse chronological order ( most recent on top).  (The drive is still going, btw – this is just how it looked around 4:30 pm)




(Read more about why to use Twitter on Andy Bailey’s “Why the hell would anyone use twitter anyway and Gillan Shaw’s “TweetupHeatup Twitter flash mob helps the homeless“)

December 19, 2008 at 6:14 pm 8 comments

Summer Contest – Make it a Double

A few of my friends are running cool contests.

You’d be a fool not to enter these – and I pity the fool!

Capulet: PutPlace – “Pull a Face”

A data lost photo contest

PutPlace asks you to show your best “data disaster loss” face. Basically, the horror, the agony etc. of knowing you’ve lost your work/files…

I’ve entered – though I must admit many of my outtake pictures look more like “I need Metamucil badly!” than “I lost all my files!”

Memelab’s: Fan Trust – “I Know What You Did This Summer”

Memelabs wants you to show how your favorite TV characters are spending the summer/hiatus. Great idea! Perhaps someone will imagine a cure to the disease that makes women become contestants on the Bachelor

I’d enter this one too, but as my Mr. T reference in this post demonstrates, it has been a mighty long time since I watched TV.

I still wonder what happened to Night Court

July 16, 2008 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

Yeah, I wish

I’ve been on a reading kick of late and am running out of books I’ve heard of that I want… Having gone through the Amazon “People who purchased this item also bought” tool and discovering little of interest, I Googled “Book Recommendations” and found the following:

What Should I Read Next?

You enter some books you like and it recommends other books you might enjoy (or you can see other people’s reading lists that have a few favorite matches to see if there is anything that may be of interest).

For what it’s worth, this tool actually recommended a book I had read and enjoyed, so that’s something. And it came up with another than someone else had recommended I read. But, so far, the books suggested seem a bit too technical for me. While I have been enjoying books on behavioral economics, it has mainly been due to their informal tone and wonderful writing style. So, What Should I Read Next, thanks for assuming I have the attention span for technical or theoretical business books. I don’t.

(Anyone know of other similar tools?)

But here’s something cool – the site then provides a link where you can swap old books/movies. Bingo!


I’m just inputting the books I have now, but am very intrigued by the site. It appears to work like this: when someone asks for a book you have, you send it to them and receive a point for the transaction. Then you use that point to get a book (possibly from another user!)

Now, I think this would work even better with people you know. So here’s my request from Vancouverites – enter the books you want to exchange at chanceXchange and save your local peeps the postage costs of sending a hardcover clear across our expansive country…

July 15, 2008 at 11:39 am 1 comment

“Can’t be a jerk no more” – on Buzz Networker (B5)

If you missed my insomniac guest post about truthfulness on the internet on the B5 network, feel free to check it out here.

June 23, 2008 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

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