Monday, December 07, 2009

I saw LEMONADE MOVIE (yet left extremely pissed off).

A few hours ago, I had the pleasure of watching a screening of a movie that I could personally relate to. Lemonade is about what happens when people who were once paid to be creative in advertising are forced to be creative with their own lives.

With so many people working in the advertising industry in this city, I was really amazed at how few came out. I would have bet (especially since the screening was free) that it would have been a packed house yet only around 100 people were in attendance.

At roughly 40 minutes in length, the film was extremely well done. Music, direction, etc., all came together beautifully to tell people’s stories without any unnecessary, boring filler.
It got straight to the point. Everyone got laid-off, got over the hurt and feelings of being unwanted, and moved on after discovering what was truly important in their lives. If you have ever worked in this industry, hell, if you have ever worked in ANY industry, you should be able to relate and it is really worth seeing the film. Many (myself included), left inspired and questioning what would truly make us happy in life?

So now you are probably wondering why I left steaming mad (as my title suggests)?

One word.


The organization that sponsored/screened the film (that will remain nameless) made some announcements after it ended. One of these announcements was about an open "website design contest” they will be holding in the near future. The winner of this contest will get $1000.

Just so we all get this straight…an organization that just screened a film moments earlier about creative people being laid off in the ad industry is throwing a contest that de-values the livelihoods of creative people working in the industry.

We all know how I feel about design contests. I could feel the blood boiling in my head. I bit my tongue trying so hard not to explode when the organizer asked if there were any questions?

I decided to confront her when it was over.

I walked up, introduced myself, and flat out asked how an organization can be so hypocritical that they would hold a design contest after screening this film?

Amazingly, her response was “I know, I know” and she tried to explain how they still consider the contest a “good idea”.
I asked her how it’s a good idea? It’s no wonder people are losing their jobs. If every company that needed some creative work decided to hold such a contest (and it seems as if they are), why would anyone ever need to hire an ad agency? I tried to make her understand that what her organization is doing is contributing to the demise of our industry.

She replied with an authoritative “everyone that submits a design will have their link featured on our website”.

This is a classic line that I hear often. It translates into “do all our work for free, and we promise you’ll get a load of business out of it because we know a lot of people”.

Anybody that has been on the freelance side of this industry will tell you that this line is the standard ‘biggest-load-of-crap’ that you will hear often as justification for free work.

There was something one individual (featured in the film) said that stuck with me.

“Companies don’t need to go to an ad agency anymore. There are plenty of people out there that are great at what they do and are not only willing to do the work, they actually love doing it”.

I quoted this line to her. I asked why they won’t consider hiring a great out-of-work designer to build them a website and pay them the $1000? What I got in return was another justification for the contest. “I believe there is room in this industry for both” she replied.

Why is it so difficult to understand that by holding this immoral contest, they aren’t (as they believe) giving an opportunity to recently laid-off creative people. What they are actually doing is taking advantage of their vulnerability.

Lemonade (and those involved in the making of it) - I give you an “A”. I really enjoyed it.

Organization that sponsored the screening - in my books you should really be ashamed. Go through with this contest and you deserve a big fat “F”.

Now, go hire a recently fired creative that can use the money to feed their children.


Heidi Ehlers said...

I too, was the premiere of Lemonade, and was quite excited to see it, since I made a wee donation to the project, and have been following it since its inception.

Ronnie is far too polite to mention the offending company's name, but I'm not. It was Films that Move. I feel fine doing this, since their rudeness and disrespect to the audience and more importantly, the producers of Lemonade, was such that they should be 'outed'.

First of all, they should be outed for displaying the sort of insensitivity that Ronnie mentioned in his post.

I agree with Ronnie.

This morning I thought, "If the charity of choice has $1,000 for a logo, why not just hire a company to do the logo, instead of having 100+ people blow their brains out trying to win the prize?"

Contests like this are for lazy companies who cannot be bothered to do the research required to find and then partner with a reputable design firm.

But beyond that, Films that Moves' rudeness came from their absolute lack of preparedness for this presentation.

The woman who runs Films that Move hadn't done a trial Skype run prior to having the producer of Lemonade, Erik Proulx, on Skype, live.

Embarassing,as we waited for a problem my 11 year old nephew could fix in 4 seconds, and awkward for Erik who now waited while the technical crew floundered.

Further, she obviously has not even watched the DVD prior to screening it.

How do I know this?

Because 15 minutes after the film began, she abruptly turned on the house lights, and apologized (one of many yesterday evening/why apologize, just do your homework and prepare, and rehearse so no apologies will be necessary!!!!!) and told the audience that the DVD hadn't started at the beginning!!!!!


The DVD was re-started, and we watched the film from the beginning. Funny that she hadn't noticed, because it was quite clear that the beginning was the beginning when we actually did see it. You know, there were titles, and the name of the film was shown.

Erik's team spent six months producing this film, and Films that Move couldn't spend 40 minutes watching it? Amateur hour.

Perhaps if she had, her introduction might have been more poignant, she might have found some facts beyond the actual press release, she might have found a way to engage the audience, and in doing so, fulfilled what she claimed was the mandate of Films that Move - to bring attention to importance charities, blah blah blah blah blah.

No credibility - and as such, a big opportunity to help a community that needs help now, was missed.

As I said to my husband at the event (both of us are in the advertising business), "Why does it have to be so hack?" And he said, "And everyone tolerates it. No one says a word."

I've said my word, and I hope you will too.


Until we start behaving like a world class city with world class professionals in it, no one will see us as such, and that has financial implications that impact each and every one of us.

As Erik after the movie in response to a question from the audience, "All it requires is a decision."

A choice. As it were. When will you choose to be a world class professional?

Now is as good a time as any.

~ heidi

Unknown said...

Heidi, Ronnie...I have to come to Films That Move's defense for a brief moment here.

First of all, I believe Celina's heart to be in the right place. I have the same crowdsourcing issues that both of you have. Competitions are not the way to use the power of the creative community. It's a bullshit way to take advantage of a community that has been been given the short end of the stick once already.

But given that her client (and I do not know what that client is so I can't speak with complete authority here) is a non profit, I thought that giving creatives a way to help those who faced an even more difficult situation than the attendees would be a good use of this new way of working.

Again, without knowledge of what that charity is, I don't know this to be the case. But when Celina told me that she would be trying to crowdsource a project at the end of the filming, I was turned off. When she said it was for a cause, it made more sense to me.

As for her technical difficulties, we did, in fact, test skype beforehand and had it all up and running. I take responsibility for the problems because I actually ended the session while everyone was filing in. It would have been fine had I not disconnected.

These are imperfect times we are living in. In a world with money, I would have flown up there, met everyone in person, and sold DVDs with proceeds going to Celina's charity. But we're all just trying to make do with what we've got. And in this case, what we've got is a good movie, a good cause, and the polarizing issue of crowdsourcing.

Glad you both enjoyed the film. Now, let's try to figure out a way for everyone's heart to be measured by its intentions.

Heidi Ehlers said...

Crowdsourcing is crowdsourcing regardless of who the benefactor is.

It is the last stake in the coffin of commercially viable creativity.

Recommend a restaurant? Yes.

Design me a logo, do an ad campaign, get a bunch of freelancers on a project, emphasis on the word free? No.

Charities are businesses like any other business - the better run that business is, the more money that goes to the charity.

Do you think The Tap Project would have raised $1.5M in the US if they didn't have their doo-doo together? I don't.

Charities need money to help the communities, causes or individuals they are created to help.

Charities wanting something for nothing, are no better than companies wanting something for nothing. That, in an of itself is a form of exploitation of the people the charity goes to for freebies.

The people who are being asked for the freebies, are in business too.

And the wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round, and we all need to grease them.

~ heidi