Jump to content



Photo

Poptent: Destroying the commercial production industry for fun and (no) profit


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 Charles Papert

Charles Papert

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2224 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:46 PM

So here's a sobering one.

Meet Poptent (poptent.com). They put together corporate giants and filmmakers via crowdsourcing to make the former spots. How it works: a brand like VW, Budweiser etc. contacts Poptent with a loose concept, and Poptent puts it up on a page on their site. The, an army of 50,000 filmmakers have an opportunity to create spots (out of their own pockets, of course) and post them on the site. If the corporate entity decides they like any of them (and they are under no obligation to do do so), they can purchase them for a buyout fee of $7500 per spot.

$7500.

It's obvious to see how this is a win for the corporation, since they have very little time and no money invested in the process. I'm sure Poptent takes a fee from every spot sold. And you can see why a gaggle of enthusiastic filmmakers in Poughkeepsie are inspired to go out and shoot a spot in the hopes that they will get tapped to make more, plus they get to put a legit spot with a national brand on their reel.

What of course these leaves out is everyone from the agency to the production company to the talent to the crew that used to make a living from this sort of thing. Like, for instance, working Steadicam operators--because you know that even if someone here did work on one of these, that whopping $7500 payout isn't going to be split too much in their direction (unless they happened to also direct/edit/produce/do crafty on the shoot, because it was made by three people or something).

I'm sure most of those eager filmmakers think that once they get enough of these spots on their reel, they will graduate to the "bigtime". The problem is: this approach makes too much financial sense for this model not to grow in other areas. Sure, there will always be high-budget fancy ads--but this kind of thing will undoubtedly eat away at the middle ground and put a lot of people out of work. So by the time the kids are ready to graduate, there won't be any more work for them to graduate to, other than more $7500 paydays.

Yay! Progress!
  • 0

#2 Alan Rencher

Alan Rencher

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1091 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 03 October 2012 - 10:06 PM

Thank for the post, Charles. There have been a lot of these companies springing up lately. I work a lot in rentals, and there is a site called Visual Net that basically turns bidding on rental contracts like some kind of reverse eBay. My thoughts on these types of things is that they cannot sustain themselves.
How many times have you seen small "production"companies pop up overnight, just to start undercutting everyone. Do you know what business they attract? They attract the clients with no money. Clients that would not have paid a professional organization to do great work. Everyone of these little companies after a while realize that they can't consistently get professional results on such little budgets. They run out of favors, people realize that they're getting taken advantage of, and overhead rises. These companies either have to align themselves with the rest of the market, or go under.
This site seems like it might be a good avenue for virals, but it's really no different than something like the Doritos Super Bowl competition every year. That paradigm hasn't become the norm, and I don't think this will either. This site might just be for the occasional no-budgets, or for small companies that don't spend money on commercials in the first place. Or maybe it will be to niche to survive.
Here's to hoping.
  • 0

#3 thomas-english

thomas-english

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1165 posts
  • UK

Posted 04 October 2012 - 01:46 PM

This business model has been going for a while in England in various forms. The classic is as a test commercial for a competition. I worked on a test commercial once and my dad saw the advert in Canada!

Generally though with the bottom of the barrel competitions they don't see themselves buying the advert but buying the concept for $7500. They then go and re-make that concept with actors, directors and producers selected by the agency. This leaves the original filmakers bittered because they don't get the opportunity to make it with the bigger budget.

I'm in no way defending them. Generally these kind of business models are invented by people with little creative talent or eye for creative talent. Basically they are wankers. Also we can't shy away from the fact that the market is flooded by the cult of the amateur. This creates its own supply demand issues we have to deal with; By being better, quicker, more reliable and far more expensive.
  • 0

#4 Alfeo Dixon SOC

Alfeo Dixon SOC

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 756 posts
  • Atlanta

Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:01 PM

This type of competitive competition think tank began in an advertising school I attended called Portfolio Center right here in Atlanta. The only difference is that these where students working under the guidance of their professor.

A "client" would either approach the school or the school would approach an agency for a pitch. The students would work all quarter long on this project and the "client" would jury the results for what they felt best fit their needs. The prize winner would essentially get their tuition for the quarter paid. Not a bad deal all the way around. It gave the students portfolio pieces for a real world client that people may recognize and the experience of dealing with a pseudo client.

In all actuality, it has made its way into the main stream if we are seeing it every year at Super Bowl time...

-Alfeo
  • 0

#5 Lawrence Karman

Lawrence Karman

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 897 posts

Posted 05 October 2012 - 03:18 AM

Think I recall reading that Poptent takes a $40,000 "management" fee from advertisers and then offers the $7,500 prize from that. Even more despicable.
  • 0

#6 Sanjay Sami

Sanjay Sami

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 429 posts
  • India

Posted 05 October 2012 - 10:57 AM

Thats pretty disgusting. I've never heard of this, but I can't believe this would catch on. Why would you make a commercial out of pocket for a corporate, with the ultimate payday (if you make it) being 7,500$ ? Seems crazy ... I hope it doesn't catch on.
  • 0

#7 William Demeritt

William Demeritt

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1057 posts
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 05 October 2012 - 11:05 AM

More evidence that people don't know how to create a sustainable business model from the internet; just another scam posing as the "next evolution".

Low quality seems pushed more and more, from all handheld camera work to "found footage" features, and I'm just hoping it's a part of a cycle into and out of "cinema verite". Eventually, the aesthetic becomes tiresome and boring because visually it shows no talent. Granted, in a commercial, you barely have time to get bored.

Of course, everyone wants to work in the industry, and they'd probably be willing to slit their own throats and shoot a commercial for $10,000 knowing their payout (if any) would only be $7,500.
  • 0

#8 thomas-english

thomas-english

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1165 posts
  • UK

Posted 05 October 2012 - 06:27 PM

We had a massive competition like this for Doritos here in England and to be honest it has scarred many Directors and DoP s showreels. You see a spec doritoes ad on their showreel you know they weren't that busy and essentially are not that successful.
  • 0

#9 Alec Jarnagin SOC

Alec Jarnagin SOC

    Advanced Member

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPip
  • 1800 posts
  • New York City, USA

Posted 05 October 2012 - 07:16 PM

$7500? I made more than that on my last commercial.... I hope Charles is wrong, but he usually isn't.

Who would make the spots? The same people that make Spec spots now, but with this system they have a guaranteed "looker" and a slim possibility of making some of their money back.
  • 0

#10 Charles Papert

Charles Papert

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2224 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 06 October 2012 - 04:32 AM

Indeed Doc, confirmed that Poptent takes a $40K fee while the filmmakers get $7500:

http://articles.lati...optent-20120508

Also to address the "it hasn't caught on" theory--look at the list of clients. The number and diversity mean that this is not the type of situation like Doritos where it's easy to spot the spec on a reel. Poptent is doing brisk business and no reason to think it won't grow. Even if they chose to reshoot, they have used the original filmmakers as an ad agency that created and even shot a proof of concept spec to get the idea across--still a bargain at $7500. And since Poptent owns the concept, I imagine they get an additional payout if the spot is remade (and of course the filmmakers get nothing).

It would be nice to believe that the crowdsourcing concept is a fad that will die out and everyone will get back to work as usual--wouldn't count on it. And it's not accurate to say that it is clearly low quality, as some of it is all but indistinguishable from the "real thing". Look at the dollarshaveclub.com promo--it's just about perfect in every way, and it cost under $5K to make.
  • 0

#11 William Demeritt

William Demeritt

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1057 posts
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 06 October 2012 - 01:48 PM

It would be nice to believe that the crowdsourcing concept is a fad that will die out and everyone will get back to work as usual--wouldn't count on it. And it's not accurate to say that it is clearly low quality, as some of it is all but indistinguishable from the "real thing". Look at the dollarshaveclub.com promo--it's just about perfect in every way, and it cost under $5K to make.

Can't help but think of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zui4s0aLpr4
From the "Hearts of Darkness" documentary.
  • 0

#12 Mike McGowan SOC

Mike McGowan SOC

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 624 posts
  • Miami, Florida, USA

Posted 06 October 2012 - 07:49 PM

Interesting read.... I have a friend of a friend who is the son of the CEO of Sony. I was talking to him about 3 years ago at a mutual friends wedding. We got to talking about the music industry, business in general and he started bitching about people stealing music. He was all up in arms about Napster and the like. Now mind you this was 3, maybe 4 years ago. I can see getting upset with Napster in 1995 but in 2008?!?!?

I bring it up only to illustrate this point, the music industry was woefully slow to adapt to the internet and music. As a result, the music industry has gone through a major change (not for the better). While I agree that things like this 'Poptent' really suck, especially for professionals like us who make our livings with our experience, it's also really important to future proof yourselves (and our industry).
  • 0

#13 Bryan Fowler

Bryan Fowler

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 370 posts
  • Chattanooga, TN

Posted 07 October 2012 - 03:09 PM

Anyone want to co-start dometent.com with me?

We'll take $25k, and give the workers $15,000.

THAT'S DOUBLE WHAT POPTENT OFFERS!

It's bound to be a success.

And we can have a rewards card for repeat customers... I mean clients.

Can't loose.
I repeat. Can not loose.
  • 0




SkyDreams

Paralinx LLC

Varizoom Follow Focus

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Boland Communications

Wireless Video Systems

GPI Pro Systems

PLC Electronics Solutions

BOXX

Omnishot Systems

Betz Tools for Stabilizers

IDX

rebotnix Technologies

PLC - Bartech

Teradek

Ritter Battery

Engineered Cinema Solutions