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Tips for How to Win a Video Contest

Essential guidelines and tips to follow in order to win a video contest.

Video Transcript

There are a lot of different ways to get your project seen that can lead to a lot more profit making opportunities. One of them is entering your project into a video contest.

A video contest may result in gaining popularity, critical acclaim, and possibly more profit. A good place to find new and upcoming film festivals and video contests can be our Web site in the community section.

There are a few simple rules to creating videos for a contest and a few tips that everyone should use when creating their projects. The first of which should be the story. Every video that is created needs to feature a captivating story and focus on just that – the story. Since there are time limits and rules that need to be followed, there is no time for the project to cover anything but the meat of the video. That means 100 percent of the focus of the project should be the aspects that move along the story and that's it. Chances are that if you have to ask yourself whether or not you should include something, such as a shot or sidebar to the piece, you should cut it out.

Another tip to consider is to set the stage right away. Driving the audience's attention early can win them over. Remember most of these contests involve short videos so there's no point to let the story develop over a long span of time. The quicker, the better. A general rule of thumb is that if you're going to include any eye-opening facts, videos or stills, do it early to keep the viewer focused. Do not wait. If you have three minutes to tell your story, make it a quick three minutes.

Another rule of thumb is to make sure that you always follow the rules to the contest. When it comes to entering contests, the organizers might disqualify your video before the judges even see it for simple, easily avoidable reasons. To avoid that fate, read and follow the entry instructions thoroughly and carefully in terms of the format, content required, length, deadlines, and fees.

The format: If the contest requires you to submit a movie in HDV, for example, do not submit it on VHS or DVD. This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised what people send in.

Subject matter: If the contest is for nature videos, don't bother sending your family's funniest home videos. Make sure that your video is appropriate for the contest you enter.

Length limit: Many contests have a time limit in minutes. Judges tend to be strict on this point and will likely stop watching your video as soon as it reaches a time limit. This can be disastrous for you.

Entry deadline: Send your entry only if you are sure that it absolutely, positively will arrive by the contest deadline. If you miss the entry deadline, there's always next year. Certain contests; however, require that your movie be completed within the last year prior to entry. Be sure to read the fine print on the application instructions.

Entry fee: Most competitions require an entry fee, usually a modest one, but don't forget to enclose a check along with your tape or DVD if you'd like your production judged.

There are technical issues to deal with as well. For example, judges will generally expect you to follow fundamental video creation techniques. These include: sharp focus, proper exposure, limiting the amount of zooms and camera motion, and clear, clean dialogue.

What makes a movie a winner? Creating a well-defined and well-placed story. A good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You will need a clear vision of what you wish to accomplish. Every scene should work towards the end. By the time the movie is over, the judges will know what you had in mind all along. Many amateur movies; however, are disjointed, confusing, and downright pointless. Worse yet, some are unoriginal. If your movie has an interesting, original story that is well told, judges will feel comfortable giving a good grade to your movie. They may even be willing to overlook minor technical problems and poor acting.

In general, keep your story simple yet engaging. If you start with a disorienting shot at the beginning of your work, be sure to resolve the plot or character's conflict by the end of your movie. You want to draw each judge into your world through the video. You want your judges to identify with a character, whether it is human, animal, or even mechanical. As soon as possible, you want the judges to root for the character as he, she, or it encounters bumps along the road. If you produce a documentary, assume that the viewer knows little or nothing about your subject. You will have to lay out your scenes in a logical manner from the very first shot. A satisfying conclusion is a necessity.

There are a lot of different ways to pursue profit in the video world. The key is to be able to engage your audience, have the techniques, and be able to tell your story.

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