I recently worked on another project at Radar Studios, and while I was there I met the very talented Tucker Barrie. So, of course, when Tucker called me a couple weeks ago to ask for help on a project I said yes. And when I say I “helped him” I really mean I “pressured him into animating a sequence he had given up on because of lack of time.” I’m a good friend. The video above is what he made for Sprout Home as part of a Chicago area advertising contest.
Anyone who wanted to could pitch a concept to any of the 30 businesses signed up for a free commercial. Each business chose their favorite pitch and worked with the filmmakers (to varying degrees) to help/hinder the creation of the commercial.
The whole thing culminated in a competition/award party at the Double Door and that was also streamed online. There are a variety of metrics that could have been used to select a winner – running them online and comparing click through rates (you know, actual engagement), expert judge decisions, how the clients felt about the finished work, etc. But instead of anything practical the organizer went with the super realistic popular vote option, which, aww shucks, just happened to drive a whole bunch of traffic to his mediocre web properties while a lot of people (mostly students) were left begging family and friends to go to the website to vote during the ≈20 minute voting period at around 10:30 on a Tuesday night. Because that’s totally how the real world works. But come on, it was for a pseudo-charitable event that wasn’t so charitable that you would actually have to prove it was a legal charity, but was still charitable enough to make people do things they wouldn’t otherwise.
So, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, the winners were a lot more about who had a ton of facebook friends than who was actually good. And it’s been my experience that the best creatives are often the least likely to have a huge network of friends – they’re like Tucker, making a priority of giving up sleep to try to make better work over socializing.
I will say the judges were, by far, the highlight of the event – saying harsh things about each commercial that were clearly just a tip of the criticism iceberg. Unfortunately, in spite of actually having relevant careers and experience, they had no actual power. If they did Tucker would have definitely finished in the top 3.
The takeaway here is that self promotion is rarely a way to create a good event. Long ago I figured out that the worst craft fairs are the ones created by crafters as a vehicle to sell their own stuff. If you make a great event you won’t have to worry about self promotion, other people will promote you for you.
The best part of being friends with creatives is that I spent a Tuesday night drinking with a bunch of great people before landing in a booth at Big Star for tacos during what was, for many of us, a rare night of being away from our work.
And Tucker has a portfolio piece that received rave reviews for the quality of it’s craft from actual professionals.