I personally think you should do away with letting old films being admitted.
Give an ample amount of time to create a new film, otherwise the whole thing is a joke.
Tighten the rules, make it challenging.
Also it feels like you're asking for potential competitors to fund this.
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I have thought about making it new films only for some time. That is something I am looking at also.
As far as the crowdfunding, I thought about doing an entry fee but knew that would push people away. Just trying to do whatever it takes to improve the competition, extend it's reach and garner more entries so that the sponsors will continue to support us. As was noticed in last year's prizes, the sponsors are cutting back due to lack of participation.
I think everyone appreciates the hard work you've put in getting prizes donated in previous years and generally trying to make the competition successful. In my opinion though, asking your potential entrants to donate their own money towards a prize fund is the wrong way to go about improving participation. I think it's the equivalent to charging an entry fee (which for me goes against the community spirit you've tried to instill over the years).
For a start, I don't think the prizes need improving. Over the past few years you've consistently provided excellent software prizes donated by sponsors which are already more than enough incentive for most of us to want to enter the competition. Big cash prizes are nice but do it within your means. Nobody is asking you to donate your money (which you do generously every year) and nobody wants to feel obligated to donate money themselves for something which for most is a hobby. We don't donate money so we don't care about the competition? Make it first and foremost about having fun and leave the money out.
So what's the problem? The problem for me is that the rules have been continually relaxed in an attempt to garner more entries to a point where everyone just gets lazy. The theme last time was so broad that you could enter literally just about anything and it would be eligible. Add to that the fact that there is no limit to how old the film can be and you have very little motivation there to create something new.
How many entries last year were made specifically for the competition? Why would you put the time and effort into making something new when someone else can just enter their masterpiece they made 7 years ago and win first place? It's much easier just to say screw it and enter something you made already, because why not? I did and I got a prize and the only effort I had to make was to link a film I made 6 years ago. That's your problem right there.
If I were you I would focus on tightening up the rules to make things more challenging and encourage entrants to create something new. In creating new movies, people get inspired and when there's inspiration you get excitement and fun, and that's where you'll get more participation. We saw it in RPO's recent Without Words contest, where entrants were only given a month to come up with movies that didn't include any words, which was a really challenging task, but everyone rose to it and we saw eight strong entries and more importantly, a sense of excitement and creativity that hasn't really been there in the Passion Comp the past couple of years.
I really hope you don't see this as an attack because it's not. I just felt like I should give my opinion on what could be done to improve things, because for me, more money definitely isn't the answer. I really appreciate the work you do for the contest and I'm looking forward to seeing how things go this year
No Mac, I do not see it as an attack. I have always said I am open to advice and opinions. That is how things get improved.
Last year's theme is the same one used in the first 2 contests. When I was asked to make a more defined theme, entries dropped off and people commented it was too restrictive so I tried opening it up again. This reminds me of those famous words from poet John Lydgate, later adapted by President Lincoln – and appearing in various permutations:
“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
This is never more clear than by how the participation in this competition has been over the past 9 years.
As for the money, one thing comes to mind and that is many of those who might enter already have the software offered so there is no incentive to enter. By having cash (gift cards, cash, etc) prizes to supplement the software it could encourage those who don't need the software to enter for the extras. Instead of enacting an entry fee (which would go against what we are about) I was hoping to expand the reach of the competition by getting some who have never heard of us to invest. That is why when I post the links for the crowdfunding I try to state that I am not asking you directly to contribute but to pass the info along to those in your circles to pass on to their circles. Maybe someone who is a contact of a contact of a contact just might be the one who thinks it might be a good investment. I know I have donated to several campaigns in the last few years, machinima and non-machinima alike, to help out those when they needed our help to either keep a site going or to produce a film. I saw this as nothing different.
This may be a moot point this year since I may have to take a hiatus for personal reasons.