Friday, October 14, 2011

3 Reasons Why You Didn't Win

LawHag again!

It's nearing the end of the year and the last competition is closing soon! We decided to look back and answer the question on everyone's minds, "why am I not winning"? The filmmakers that have made Pepsi Films possible have submitted so many great pieces and have really put a lot of time and effort into creating great films. But even with all of the collective talent, time, and energy, put into submissions, there can really only be one winner in the end. After hearing a lot of conversations on Facebook and from filmmakers regarding what should or shouldn't have won, we decided to provide some insight from our point of view on why every great entry doesn't win.

1. You were doomed from the start.
Even with the best camera set up, an A-Team crew, a great creative concept, and academy award winning talent, sometimes you can make a mistake so fatal that your film has zero chance the second you hit upload. For example, we made a spec commercial for a MOFILM competition a year ago called "Floors" for a brand that shall not be named (though you can search for it here: and at the time we thought it had a great story, cast, music, etc. but as soon as it entered competition, it straight up lost. Why? We were told that we made a great commercial but for the wrong brand, the target audience was wrong, the music jingle was the wrong one, and the overall concept just didn't fit. If we had done our research, we could have avoided all of this. What do we learn from all of this? Be sure to read the brief and stick to those guidelines. If the brief says no violent themes, then don't have masked figures with guns, laser swords and people running around punching other people in the face. The brief is there to help harness and guide your creativity.

2. You are doing too much.
Believe it or not this happens quite a bit. We've all been there before, filmmakers have all these grand plans and epic ideas. One creative vision leads to another and before you know it you have a monster of an idea. Creative development is such an addictive and exhilarating part of the process, we tend to get ahead of ourselves and begin to mash ideas together. When its time to execute your vision, you end up trying to cram a million ideas into a one minute film. The end result? Something that is incoherent, random, and not that entertaining to watch. Our advice is to keep the big picture in mind and craft simple work. As judges we can tell you this is one of the biggest reasons why a vast majority of submissions don't make it to the shortlist; jumbled ideas don't make good films. Take a step back, take one idea and make a great film about it. Less is more.

3. Creativity is subjective.
There is no right answer to creative work. That's the beautiful thing about it, you can go out there and make whatever you like and in some way or form, that creative work is great. It may not be appreciated by everybody, but all work eventually finds an audience (no matter how small). We all have submitted masterpieces (in our minds) but find out they are quickly beaten out by a film that is... well... crap. How could it be possible that a crap film has beaten the best thing to ever grace the medium of moving picture? Take a step back and think about it, judging creative content is based solely on opinion and when a judging process is a cycle of opinions pushing your film towards the win or lose category, it's really all up to chance. Every judge along the way has their own tastes and likes/dislikes, we have been on the judging panels for these competitions and we can tell you now that there are rarely unanimous decisions. Our best advice is to keep doing what you're doing, and try to make the best work possible given your constraints (the theme you have chosen), after that it's all up to chance.

At the end of the day, film is what you love to do, so just keep doing it. Competitions were a great place for us to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and really start understanding the commercial language and process. Eventually everybody hopes to be a filmmaker, and with that comes having to meet other people's requirements (whether that is a client or an exec producer) so this is the perfect place to start developing your creative signature and how to problem solve and work around the constraints. That is all for now, we would love to know your thoughts on your experience so far and if you agree!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Pepsi Films Rio Winners

Our first place winners are now back from Rio, where they had a wonderful time.

We'll reveal the overall winner shortly but in the meantime, enjoy the nine winning films!

Remember there's still one contest left for you to enter - Pepsi Films Kathmandu!

Friday, July 29, 2011

The 3 Keys to Winning.

LawHag here,

Hope everyone has been doing well! I can't believe we are so far into summer already, but you've got a little more than a month before the Rio deadline, plenty of time to make something great. Anyway, after we've seen so many entries for all the competitions, we decided to sit down and really figure out which films speak to us. So here are our 3 keys to winning and catching our attention:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pepsi Winners in Wroclaw

We asked our three winners for Pepsi Films Poland to let us know how their trip is going, we've got updates from Shin, who created Smile and Dan Baskt, Martin "Hammy Sammy' Martin III and David Mellor, Something about Life for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

LawHag's 3 Top 10 Films From Pepsi Films Shanghai

Hello all,

LawHag here, as you may or may not know, we grew up in China so this recent Pepsi Films Shanghai means a lot to us. We know it means a lot to you guys as filmmakers as well, so here is a top 10 list of our favorite entries for each theme from Shanghai. Keep in mind that this is our own personal opinion and judgement as Pepsi Films ambassadors and as your fellow filmmakers. This list was submitted but does not reflect the final selection of winners and is in no particular order:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

MOFILM Shanghai Winners!

We're pleased to finally announce the first place winners for the Pepsi Films Shanghai Film Festival, which you can watch from our YouTube channel below.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Winner Focus: Joon Goh

Joon Goh   

London, UK  

What experience do you have in films and filmmaking and how long have you been making films for:
I'm a self taught filmmaker. I started about six years ago, when digital technology was making things possible for the average Joe. Now I freelance as an editor on feature and short form work.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Winner Wednesdays: Jody L Miller

The winner of the Forever Young theme for Pepsi Films TriBeCa was Jody L Miller, who came up with a hilarious spot that revealed a generational conspiracy. Jody kindly answered some questions for us about her filmmaker chops and future plans.

Jody Lauren Miller


What experience do you have in films and filmmaking and how long have you been making films for:
I started my production career at NFL Films (National Football League) a handful of years ago where I learned the art of filmmaking from the ground up. One can only take so many tackles and touchdowns before venturing out and making funny films ... at least I think that's the normal progression of a filmmaker.

What are your hopes for your future in film and are you working on any other projects at the moment:
My hope for "my future in film" is simple ...  to keep shooting! I try to shoot as much as possible and just rock out fun, creative work. As far as other projects, I'm always writing something. Currently I'm cooking up two short films, a viral project involving all aspects of social media and of course reading through the current MOFILM / PEPSI briefs to see what creatives are "speaking" to me. Besides that I'm busy bragging about my MOFILM TriBeCa experience.

Why did you choose to enter for Pepsi in particular:
The brief! The thing that always attracts me to MOFILM and PEPSI FILMS competitions are the creatives. If I have a strong idea, that can bring their brief to life, I'll shoot it.

What do you think of Pepsi Films:
Starting with their briefs I can tell you I think Pepsi Films believes in the filmmaker and their creativity before "product pitches" and that is unheard of in my experience. Any company who posts a brief saying they DON'T want their product featured ... well, you have to like that immediately. It told me they were looking for good, strong FILMS not commercials. What filmmaker doesn't immediately fall in love with that idea? Pepsi Films is a group I'd never hesitate to throw creativity at.

Are you going to enter any Pepsi Films contests:
Done and done and yes and yes! I will be entering more in the future.

How did you come up with the idea for this particular spot:
Here's the scene, true story ... pizza place, old guy, paying with change, everyone's mad. Stereotypes are funny and relatable because they are based on a truth. So after getting annoyed at the slowness of the more-mature-sector of society, I just envisioned a world where maybe, just maybe, there was some sort of senior-conspiracy and the joke is on us.

What do you think about Pepsi as a brand and how did you try to get this across in your film:
The Pepsi brand is so omnipresent in our daily lives it's hard not to come across it time and again throughout the day. In "Old on Purpose" there was no need to hit the viewer over the head with any kind of branding or sales pitch. It's never mentioned or highlighted in any way. As a matter of fact the product is VERY easy to miss in our spot, but it is ever present. You will see Pepsi cups at the pizza place, in the movie theater and in the old-fogies glasses in the "party" scene at the end of the film. So the only way we tried to get across any type of branding effort was simply to mimic its presence in our daily lives.

What kind of person were you targeting with your spot, what particular reaction were you aiming for and how did you go about getting it:
"Old on Purpose" was not targeted to a certain demographic ... well, except for those people who want to laugh. The goal was to tell a solid story with colorful characters that plays on a silly idea. The gag played well and the "reveal" got that wonderful, slow "ahhhhhh" reaction I was hoping for. Once the joke was told I drove it home just a bit more by showing a funny over the top reaction of an aggravated driver that we can all relate to ... because most of us have lived it.

What equipment did you use:
We shot with the Panasonic AF100 and used a Canon 7d DSLR for the car scene. Since we didn't have a truly solid car mount we couldn't risk the AF100 falling off so the DSLR had to be the brave one and sit on the hood of the car while it was cruising around. Luckily all survived unscathed and lived to shoot another day.

Did you face any challenges in the process of making the film:
This is such a funny question because there isn't one shoot, large or small, without a huge list of challenges and problems. I'm sure all filmmakers can attest to that. With that being said the biggest challenge on this one was casting. It's very hard to find talented, older actors. Let alone talented, older actors who can get themselves to the set LOL.

What advice would you give a filmmaker thinking about entering a Pepsi Films competition:
Do it!!! However, be sure to shoot something you love. Shoot a film that will have "legs" and that you can use for your demo reel. It takes such a huge effort to put out good work so make your time (and those friends who you sucker into helping you) worthwhile!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The top 5 Chinese films of all time

The Shanghai Film Festival and Pepsi Films Shanghai are fast approaching. Here's what you need to watch before you set foot in the Middle Kingdom. As we (LawHag) are both Chinese we are therefore experts in the Chinese Cinema field by default. So you can trust this list.

#5. Shower
(Yang Zhang, 1999)
The richly humorous and touching story of a businessman, Da Ming who returns to home to Beijing where his father runs the local bathhouse, only to be caught between two cultures. At the heart of it this film is a commentary of the changing times in China where the old meets the new. An emotional roller coaster as it can make you laugh as easily as it can make you cry.

#4. Kung Fu Hustle
(Stephen Chow, 2004)
The next Pepsi Films is in Shanghai so you know we need a shout out to Shanghai! Kung Fu Hustle is about a hilarious wannabe gangster in the 1940s who aspires to join the notorious "Axe Gang" while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf. This movie is a perfect blend of old school mythical Chinese kung fu set in the 20th century. Also this film will probably the funniest kung fu flick you have ever seen. Trust us on this one.

#3. Hero
(Zhang Yimou, 2002)
A series of flashback accounts shape the story of how one man defeated three assassins who sought to murder the most powerful warlord in China. If you like Jet Li and big armies then this is a must watch. Also not to mention that Western films such as Troy and 300 drew inspiration from this film.

#2. In the Mood for Love
(Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)
A man and woman move in to neighboring Hong Kong apartments and form a bond when they both suspect their spouses of extra-marital activities. Exquisitely shot meditation on love and loss starring Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung. It was also nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. A must watch!

#1. Infernal Affairs
(Andrew Law Wai-Keung, Alan Mak Siu-Fai, 2002)
A cop thriller following the parallel lives of an undercover officer who infiltrates a Triad gang and a policeman who secretly reports to a ruthless gang boss. Sound familiar? it should because the Oscar for Best Picture went to a remake of this film. You might remember it as the The Departed directed by Marin Scorsese. Infernal Affairs is a slow burning build up of psychological tension that will leave you broken and burnt out when it's finished with you and that's why this is the best Chinese film of all time.

And that concludes our list of best Chinese films of all time!
Some of you will agree, most of you will probably disagree so let us know your thoughts!

Sincerely as always,
Yours truly,
With love,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Winner Wednesdays: Lloyd Choi & Simon Yang

The first ever filmmakers to take home the coveted Pepsi Films trophy were Canadian's Lloyd Chang and Simon Yang, with Creative Control for the Hit Delete theme.  Lloyd and Simon will be working with Pepsi Spain on a special commission in 2011 and we'll let you know what they get up to. In the meantime have a read about what they do, how they do it and why they love Pepsi Films

Lloyd Choi & Simon Yang

Vancouver Canada

What experience do you have in films and filmmaking and how long have you been making films for:
Simon and I are self taught filmmakers, never having done school for film. We learned from the streets, from the hard knocks. We've been doing this seriously for the last 3 years. 

What are your hopes for your future in film and are you working on any other projects at the moment:
Like most filmmakers, to be a feature film director making the films we want to make. We are currently doing a couple MOFILM Pro projects, as well as a music video and short film (action film!) to be shot in the summer. Long term would be to do a feature in the next couple years. 

Why did you choose to enter for Pepsi in particular:
Making a film that tells a story in a minute is a fun challenge. You see a lot of films that are too long for their own good, so this was a great lesson on how to keep the story and editing tight, keeping the audience engaged. Also, the cash prize and a trip to Barcelona doesn't hurt much either! 

What do you think of Pepsi Films:
It's a great way for filmmakers to exercise their storytelling chops, getting their film exposed, and being rewarded for their hard work and talent. 

Are you going to enter any Pepsi Films contests:
Most likely later on, but for now we are concentrating on MOFILM Pro projects.

How did you come up with the idea for this particular spot:
Like most ideas, it came at the 11th hour, a few days before the deadline. It was all very spontaneous, written in a night, shot a couple days later and edited that same night, submitted a few minutes before the deadline! Creativity springs from desperation sometimes.

What do you think about Pepsi as a brand and how did you try to get this across in your film:
Pepsi is such an iconic brand in the marketing and commercial world. But what excited me most was doing something that wasn't branded, with free reign on the concept, story, and final cut. That's when filmmakers really shine... when we're limitless.

What kind of person were you targeting with your spot, what particular reaction were you aiming for and how did you go about getting it:
Definitely targeting a wide audience. Just wanted to do something fun and cheeky.

What equipment did you use:
Canon 5D Mark 2 and tripod. And a bounce board!

Did you face any challenges in the process of making the film:
We were supposed to shoot it the day before, but it ended up snowing that day. And it rarely snows in Vancouver. Luckily, it all cleared up the next day... then a couple weeks later we were in Barcelona with some cool peeps! 

What advice would you give a filmmaker thinking about entering a Pepsi Films competition:
Keep the story simple. Base it around a core idea, then surprise the audience. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pepsi Film TriBeCa winners interviewed by LisaNova

When we were out in New York at the wonderful Pepsi Films TriBeCa awards, Pepsi North America sent along LisaNova to interview our winners, our ambassadors LawHag and the award evening host, Jon Landau, producer of Titanic and Avatar.

This is the great video Lisa and her team put together.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pepsi Winners - What happens next?

One of the best parts of the Pepsi Films experience is that the overall winner then goes onto work directly with Pepsi on specially commissioned piece. But what does that entail and what's that experience like?

We caught up with Matt Snyman, the first Pepsi winner who went on to work with Pepsi directly after taking first place in the theme 'if kids ruled the world' for Barcelona 2010, with the very catchy 'No Vegetables'. Since then Matt, and his co-conspirator, musician Tom Godfrey, have been rather busy. They went back to Spain in the summer 2010 to create this TV ad with Spanish rapper Haze and created a supporting web series about their question to find the elusive rapper.

We caught up with Matt to find out more about his experience and what's he up to currently.

Matthew Snyman

London, UK

What experience do you have in films and filmmaking and how long have you been making films for:
I have been making films since I was about 6 years old. Those films were mostly about Batman and He-Man toys though. Some would say they're still my finest work. But the passion for filmmaking runs deep. I studied Film at the University of Westminster, and during my time there, tried to reopen the UK's oldest Cinema on London's Regent Street, where the Lumiere brothers showed off their Cinematograph machine for the first time in 1896. And 4 years later, that finally happened! After University I worked on my own short films and sent them to festivals wherever, and whenever I could. Through this I appeared on a global reality TV series on MTV about digital artists and filmmakers. This was where Kevin Smith described me as his worst enemy. Which was really cool. Then I started doing MOFILM competitions.

What are your hopes for your future in film and are you working on any other projects at the moment:
I hope one day to be a Writer-slash-Director, which is why Kevin Smith got angry and said I was after his job. Currently I have a feature romantic comedy script doing the rounds in LA, but the big news is that my web series is getting released today on DailyMotion! It's called The Dead Must Die, it's a comedy/horror web series set after the inevitable ‘Zombie Apocalypse’. And it's 7 episodes, which will be released every week on a friday for the next 7 weeks. Tell your friends. ;)

Why did you choose to enter for Pepsi in particular:
I've always liked the taste. Hey what's Matt want to drink? Pepsi. Really? Yes. ;) And I really liked their brief. They search for creativity over direct advertising. Which is rare.

What do you think of Pepsi Films:
I really think Pepsi gets Social Media and Digital. They've been at the forefront since the beginning, and with the relationships they're building with up-and-coming filmmakers, they're building some great futures and creating opportunity where there once was none.

Are you going to enter any Pepsi Films contests:
I have in the past, and I'm sure I will in the future. Although it will be hard to top winning in Barcelona last year, then getting to make a Pepsi Ad for Spanish TV, in Spain! I'm still not sure if any of my actors had any idea what I was talking about. They just kept smiling and nodding.

How did you come up with the idea for this particular spot:
This is actually a pretty great story... We sat down with Pepsi in London, and starting brainstorming over a conference call with the Agency BBDO in Spain. By the end of the call we had a monkey, Hollywood and a limo, and everyone was totally excited. But by the time of the actual shoot, the monkey had become famous Spanish rapper Haze, Hollywood turned into Madrid pretending to be Andalusia, and the limo became a recording studio! Ahh the joys of working with agencies.

What do you think about Pepsi as a brand and how did you try to get this across in your film:
For this spot, the core of it was trying to create awareness of the 1 Euro, 1 Pesi campaign in Spain. (Yes, I did just spell Pepsi as Pesi.) In various parts of Spain, they pronounce Pepsi differently, and Pepsi were wise to this, and made it a core part of their strategy in this area. So in our ad, set in Andalusia, we had Pesi, not Pepsi!

Pepsi really try to engage with their audience at every level, so we really tried to reflect this in the ad. A young Andalusian drinks Pepsi, and all his dreams come true!

What kind of person were you targeting with your spot, what particular reaction were you aiming for and how did you go about getting it:
I think I sort of covered this in the last question... I should really read ahead. We aimed at the young people of Spain!

What equipment did you use:
We shot on my trusty 5D mark 2, plus 2 other 5D mark 2's. Mark 2 to the power of 3!

Did you face any challenges in the process of making the film:
Well, making an Ad in Spain, when you can't speak Spanish, is going to be complicated. Luckily we had a great crew and we had an English/Spanish phrasebook. 'Uno mas' became my favorite sentence.

What advice would you give a filmmaker thinking about entering a Pepsi Films competition:
I would say, be creative, enjoy the experience, and make sure you have fun. It can lead to great things.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pepsi Films TribeCa Overall winner is....

EZ 2 C by Jude Chun & Seung Hwan Shin,

This beautiful, endearing narrative really hit the mark of the brief and charmed the audience at the Pepsi Films TriBeCa Awards. Our winners from Korea will go on to work with Pepsi North America and its advertising agency on a commissioned piece, we can't wait to see what they do!

What do you think? A worthy winner or could you do better? If so you have until the 23rd May to get your entries in for Pepsi Films Shanghai.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pepsi Films New York Winners

The second Pepsi Films Contest is drawing to its conclusion, the three winners for each of the themes have been picked. The first place winners are busy packing ahead of their trip to New York next week, where the overall winner will be picked at a glitzy awards dinner hosted by Jon Landua, oscar winning producer of Titanic and Avatar.

We'll announce the overall winner on the Pepsi Films Facebook page the very second it's announced. Until then we'd love to know which of the films you like the best and think should take that over all prize, which carries with it a $20,000 production budget to work with Pepsi North America and it's advertising agency, BBDO.

Connected is by Joon Goh of the UK and took first place in the One World theme. It's a smart tale of how the way we communicate is changing thanks to the computer age.

EZ 2 C is by Jude Chun from Korea, the winner of the Refresh your World theme it shows how a little imagination changes the everyday.

Jody Lauren Miller, USA, took first place for Forever Young, with Old on Purpose, which reveals that some of the behaviour of the older generation might not be as innocent as it seems!

The overall winner will be revealed at around 7pm EST on Tuesday 26h April.

Don't be shy - let us know what you think of our winners and who deserves the top honours!

And if you think you can do better, then check out the Pepsi Films Shanghai and Pepsi Films Poland

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pepsi Films TriBeCa Shortlist

The shortlist for Pepsi Films TriBeCa is finally out for everyone to review. Winners will be revealed next week but for now these are the top ten films for each theme that are in the running!

Forever Young

Forever Young Argentina
Ballerina Czech Republic
One World

D-Day New Zealand
Connected Indonesia
One World Australia
One Recipe Spain
Refresh The World

Cool Space Mexico
EZ 2C Rep. of Korea
Reach Argentina
Change Agent Greece
A New Beat Australia

Friday, April 8, 2011

GoaFest Pepsi Winner!

Pepsi Films Goa doesn't open for another two months but Pepsi India couldn't wait that long before they held another video contest. With the simple brief of "Change the Game' and coming off the back of India winning the Cricket World Cup, we love this short of cricket being in the heart of the city and the community

MOFILM Video : Gali Cricket; change the game

What do you all think?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pepsi Films TriBeCa Contest - What happens now?

The second Pepsi Film contest of 2011 is now closed, and a huge thank you to everyone who entered. We had more submissions than for Barcelona and the quality remains superb, we've got a lot of videos to watch this week and we can't wait! We know you're all keen to know what happens next so we thought we'd shed a little bit more light on the process so you know what to expect.

Once the deadline has passed, our platform partner, MOFILM, reviews all the films to make sure that the music used is rights-free and that the entries have abided by the terms and conditions set by the contest - so family friendly content that doesn't show any other brands. The team there also gives each entry a mark out of ten, this is based on the quality of the content and how well it is produced, the top ranking films, usually those marked 8 and above are then placed on the longlist and the MOFILM team sends those entries a CCA form which needs to be filled in and sent back.

While all that is going on, the Pepsi Film team and the Pepsi team in the host country, so in this case North America, are reviewing films as well. For the first cut they are looking for the top ten films in each of the categories which will form the shortlist. This short list should be published next week and will appear on a dedicated facebook tab on the Pepsi Films facebook page and here on the Pepsi Films blog.

A week later we'll announce the top three films in each category - again on the blog and facebook. The three first place winners will also fly to TriBeCa to take part in the Pepsi Films award ceremony which is taking place at Scandinavia House on Tuesday 26th April. There they will meet other filmmakers, including the amazing  LawHag, the Pepsi team and Jon Landau, the oscar winning producer of Titanic and Avatar.  On the Wednesday night the winners will attend the premier of Will Ferrell's latest movie, 'everything must go'

Everything Must Go by ThePlaylist

As if that wasn't enough, during the Tuesday night award ceremony, one of the three films will be picked as the overall winner and will take the coveted Pepsi Films trophy. They then get to work with Pepsi North America on a specially commission project.

If you're now kicking yourself because you didn't enter for Pepsi Films TriBeCa, don't worry - Pepsi Films Shanghai is open and you have until the 23rd May to get your films in. Pepsi Films Poland is also due to open shortly too!

There's a lot going! Keep following for updates and the latest news on contest & winners.

Monday, March 28, 2011

6 Tips to Win $30k in 6 Days


Hello filmmakers,

The title of this blog post might sound like a get-rich-quick scheme, thats because it is. As you know the Pepsi Films Tribeca competition is closing very soon, so we figured we would share some secrets on how to win this thing in 6 days. Yes that's right, 6 days. It sounds crazy but we've won some competitions back in the day in less than a week and the recent grand prize winners Lloyd Choi and Simon Yang pretty much wrote, shot, and edited the spot the day before it was due. So yes, it is possible to snatch that $10,000 cash prize and $20,000 production deal in less than a week. Here are 6 our tips on how we made it happen:

1. Identify your constraints: What do you have available to you? What can you gather together in less than a week? You have 6 days to get this done, a camera, friends who are willing to act, a piece of music that PepsiFilms is providing, your own stupendous filmmaking talent, and a week's supply of energy drinks. Work with what you have, there's no time to try to order that prop you've always in your film and wait for it to arrive in the mail.

2. Location: You might think writing the script is the next step, but we think finding the location is. The location can help determine the look of the piece and even the story. For example if I know of a massage parlor that I can film in, I might go ahead and make this movie in less than 24 hours:

Yes, that movie was written in a couple hours, shot in 3 hours, and edited very soon afterwards. So have some locations in mind!

3. Script: Now that you have all the things you know you can work with, a location, actors, and equipment, just come up with a great story that makes use of all of that. Sometimes it's much easier to write a story based on constraints than coming up with a great narrative from scratch.

4. Schedule: Now you have the script and everything you need, plan out your 6 days:
Day 1: Identify everything you have to work with, write this script, make this schedule
Day 2: Contact all your talent/crew and lock down a date, brief them about the shoot
Day 3: Tech scout your location, write your shotlist, make your storyboard
Day 4: Shoot it.
Day 5: Edit it.
Day 6: Submit it.
Day 7: Rest.

5. Preparation: We've mentioned this so many times in previous posts, preparation is key. Since you have so little time, you have very little margin for error, so make sure you review your script with the team, make sure everyone is on the same page (literally). Then you go ahead and make a detailed shotlist/storyboard and run through everything on location (a tech scout of sorts) to make sure you can plan for anything that might and will go wrong on your shoot day. You definitely won't regret this.

6. Shoot to Edit: A lot of directors like to get great coverage for their editors, shooting all the components of a good story so the editor can tell a great story. However, if you're tight on time you may not have the luxury of a) shooting a lot of footage and b) editing all of it. Coverage is fantastic to have but if you've planned well and you happen to be the editor (which is the case for a lot of us filmmakers), shoot exactly what you know you will need when you put this story together.

And that's it! You can thank us when you see us at Tribeca.

Good Luck!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

3 Things You Should Always Do When Shooting With Props

Hi from Lawrence and Hagan!

Props are an essential part of every film, from Indiana Jones' Hat and Whip to Batman's Batmobile, almost every filmmaker we know has used them for their productions. We recently shot a short presenting Pepsi Film's Tribeca short film competition:

We built three freestanding doors with our bare hands, here's what we learned from the experience:

1. Never build three freestanding doors with your bare hands. Especially in New York City. Especially in the tiny living room of your tiny Manhattan apartment. Especially with your bare hands. I do have to say we were successful, but for large and complicated props, getting a props master who can find a set designer or carpenter to do this will save you the calloused hands and hearts that come with turning your home into a woodwork shop.

2. Planning is key. We've said this before and we'll say it again. Plan extensively. Plan ahead. Plan for the worst. We thought we were so skilled to have built three freestanding doors in a 20 sq. ft. space with primitive neanderthal tools. But on the day of the shoot, with only a couple hours to get our props on location, we realized one crucial mistake: the doors wouldn't fit through our apartment door. How ironic. In the chaos that ensued, we unbuilt all of our doors, carried them piece by piece to our equipment truck, and rebuilt all the doors in the middle of the city streets in sub-zero temperatures. I still wake up in the middle of the night with sweat on my brow and tears on my pillow wishing we had planned for that mistake.

3. Know when to hire grips. After successfully rebuilding our giant doors, we realized we had to hand carry them half a mile to our shoot location because our truck wasn't allowed in. The crew consisted of myself, Hagan, our producer Eddie, and our DP. We had three giant doors, a crane, six lights, c-stands, sandbags, tripods, cameras, lens cases, steadicam cases, electrical generators, and a very convenient crate full of 50 pound weights. You do the math. By the time we trudged through the snow and slush and shame and all the equipment was on location, we were weak and broken men, too physically frail to begin our 8 hour shoot. Should have hired grips for this.

In the end though, I thought we really pulled it off! The shoot went smoothly and we are now using those doors as firewood to last us through the rest of winter. Hopefully that cheerful advice will help you guys avoid similar mistakes while shooting your entry for the Tribeca short film competition!

Anybody have similar stories?

Your friendly neighborhood LawHag

TriBeCa & Pepsi Films

After an amazing first contest, all eyes are on TriBeCa and we can't wait to see what the 28th March closing date will bring.

There's plenty of time to enter and our ambassadors, Lawrence Chen and Hagan Wong, affectionately known as LawHag have created this amazing piece about the magical place that is the Triangle Below Canal to inspire your creative genius.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The one film that won it all.

Hello fellow filmmakers,

We have just returned from a fantastic trip to Barcelona, we met an amazing group of filmmakers and saw some even more amazing work. You'll get a sneak peak into the whole event in a couple days but as of now, we want to congratulate the Pepsi Films Barcelona Grand Prize winners Lloyd Choi and Simon Yang! We met Lloyd and Simon several months ago as winners at the 2010 MOFILM Tribeca competition, and now they've returned and snagged a $20,000 production deal with Pepsi Spain! Their entry, Creative Control in the Hit Delete category, was praised by the entire judging panel (including ourselves) for its storytelling, production quality, and of course creative idea. Here it is in all its glory:

But enough from us, what do you REALLY think of it? Give us your honest opinion!

Word on the street is that Lloyd and Simon are submitting to the Tribeca competition as well, who thinks they can beat them there?


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pepsi Film Barcelona Overall Winner!

The first Pepsi Films contest is now all over and the first overall winner has been selected. In fact it's two winners, Lloyd Choi and Simon Yang who are the creative geniuses behind Creative Control.

The jury had a hard time choosing - each of the three films had something different to offer, but they felt that Lloyd and Simon's piece was an excellent short that really answered the brief of Hit Delete.

Do you agree with our jury?

Lloyd and Simon will now work with Pepsi Spain on a special commission, we'll keep you updated on how it's going.

In the meantime don't forget that TriBeCa Pepsi Films is open!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lawrence and Hagan's Top 3 Films By Category

Hi from Lawrence and Hagan:

First off, congratulations to Jimmy Rov & Manuel Mira, Lloyd Choi and Kevin Harvey on taking first place in the PepsiFilms Barcelona Competition! Really excited to be seeing you all soon!

Now that the judging period has come to an end we thought it would be interesting to share our top three for each category in no particular order (keep in mind these are NOT the official 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place results, just our personal opinions):

Wake Up

We thought this film had amazing thought provoking narrative and it really moved us to re-watch the film over and over again. The film also had a cinematic and high budget feel to it.

We were really excited to see such a mesmerizing animated film in this competition because it was so different than all the other entries. We loved that the filmmakers took a risk and ran with it.

You are Young, Wake Up
A great story always generates a strong emotional response and that’s exactly what this film did. The story was both insightful and uplifting.

Hit Delete

Creative Control
Hilarious. We thought it was a great interpretation of the theme and it was fun to watch with a brilliant twist at the end.

Standard Deviation
Fluid dialogue and out of the box filmmaking. This had a strong nostalgic mood and a different interpretation of the brief, which we loved.

Clean Up
Though the ending was slightly predictable it still managed to entertain us with good acting and humorous situations. A good fun film.

Pop Fizz Aaah

For the Future
Great visual environment, very unexpected, funny, great characters, and utilizes Pepsi can in a non-commercial way, which we thought was really important.

Here’s a film that really just ran wild with their idea and the result was a film with an amazing montage, and visually stimulating. It was very experimental, but and that’s why we loved it.

Can't get enough pop
Lots of interesting camera angles and camera work, great sound design, and a fun playful mood to round it off.

That’s all from us, let us know what you think! What were your favorite films of PepsiFilms Barcelona? 

Share it with us on our Great Twitter Debate! Tune in to Twitter @LawHag Thursday Feb 10th at 7pm EST. We want to hear from you.

Till then everyone!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pepsi Film Barcelona Winners!

We are delighted that we can finally announce the first place winners for each of the themes for the first ever Pepsi Films Contest.  There were three themes and we received hundreds of entries, so picking took a while.

Each of the winners has been invited to join Pepsi in Barcelona where they will attend the Pepsi Films & MOFILM awards ceremony, hosted by film critic and TV presenter, Jonathan Ross, and we will find out who the overall prize winner is.

So who are the contenders?

Winner for Hit Delete is Lloyd Choi with Creative Control.

Pop-Fizz-Ahhhh first place was taken by Kevin Harvey with Ants.

Wake up with Pepsi Revolution by Jimmy Rov and Manuel Mira.

Which of these do you think should walk off with the overall prize and the opportunity to work with Pepsi Spain to create a film especially for them with a $20,000 production budget?

Let us know!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Who is the running for Pepsi Films Barcelona?

It's been a long, long time since the 1st November 2010 when Pepsi Films was launched. Since then thousands of briefs have been download, hundreds of films have been uploaded, hours and hours have been spent watching, judging and discussing.

Now, we're finally ready to reveal which videos are in the running for the top slots at Barcelona - you can check them all out from here, or visit our facebook page and tell us which are your favourites.

The winners will be announced soon!

Wake up

Jolt Australia
Treasure map Australia
Cruisin Spain
Young Greece
Pyjamas Bulgaria
Award US

Muse USA
Ants USA
Inspire USA
Delete it

Clean up Portugal
Dating USA
Problema Spain
Log out Indonesia

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The 5 basic editing tips that will make your short film amazing

You’ve written, produced, and shot your winning film, now you have a week to edit before uploading for the Barcelona contest. How do you make it amazing? Here are 5 quick and simple editing tips:
  1. Pacing: Editing is where the storytelling takes place. It’s all about rhythm, so pacing is very important. Pay attention to how long shots are on screen for, a single frame can make a world of difference. A couple ways to keep it interesting is to vary up the shots, quicker cuts for a faster pace, slower cuts to build tension. It’s all about the gut feeling. What feels right to you?
  2. Sharing Rough Edits: Step away from your work and allow someone else to look at it. Often you will work on a project for so long that you get lost in your own work and a fresh perspective helps you notice things you may have missed. Remember story is key in filmmaking and a second opinion gives you an idea of how clear it is to the audience. Even let someone else edit work that you’ vedirected, they won’ t select the shots that you are personally attached to (took hours to prep and forever to capture) to but aren’ t right for the film.
  3. Sound: Often times filmmakers will pay attention to only what the audience can see and they forget about what the audience can hear. Make sure your sound is smooth, leveled, and consistent. This is a process called mixing. Also don’t be afraid to cut out a shot if the sound makes it unbearable to watch. If your film doesn’t sound right it could ruin the whole experience.
  4. Music: Music is one of the most important aspects of film. We would argue almost 50% (or any other arbitrary but significant statistic) of the film experience is sound design and music. Find the right piece or have a friend compose if you can, it will make all the difference and push your good film into greatness.
  5. Color: Color correction is one of the biggest factors that will take your video to the next level. A quick color correct helps set the mood for the film, lets viewers feel warm, cold etc. In FCP, drag 3-Way Color Corrector onto your footage and play around with the color wheel to find the right hues that matches the mood of your film.
That’s all we can say for now! Stay tuned till next time!

Lawrence and Hagan

Monday, January 10, 2011

The 2 People Who Will Help You Win Pepsi Films.

Hello everybody,

Lawrence Chen and Hagan Wong here!  Let us introduce ourselves, we’re fellow filmmakers and past PepsiFilms and MOFILM winners.  We’ve been asked by Pepsi to be a voice and to bring candid perspective and personal opinions as young filmmakers.  We’ll share our rants and raves about what’s happening in the PepsiFilms competitions and trends in the filmmaking industry.  We’ll also give you tips on creating that winning film entry for the upcoming competitions.  Think of us as an insider resource as you embark on your quest for the coveted PepsiFilms prize!

Here’s a bit of background about us.  We grew up together in Beijing, China and came to America for university.  Though we never studied film in school (believe it or not we both were Economics majors) we always had a passion for writing, shooting, and editing, and moved to New York City in 2010 to pursue that passion.  In fact it was this time last year when we saw the PepsiFilms Barcelona competition and decided to submit an entry.  That was the spark that started it all for us!

Though we didn't win a top prize for our earlier submissions, we did take a runner-up prize, which gave us the confidence to enter more MOFILM/PepsiFilms competitions.  Through our persistence and passion we were lucky enough to win 13 prizes out of 14 entries over the course of the year and finally a Grand Prize in Rome. Check it out here:

However, it was going to the film festivals and meeting fellow filmmakers that made the whole experience worthwhile.  We’ve learned so much from the community and now it’s time to give back.

We met the Pepsi team in Rome where they asked us if we would consider being the voice of the filmmaker and we said yes!  Our role is to be here for you:
  • We’ll be posting thoughts, tips and tricks here and on Facebook on low-budget/DIY filmmaking
  • We’ll make sure the Pepsi team hears your opinions
  • We’ll hold weekly Twitter discussions on writing, shooting, and editing
  • We’ll be posting some of our own videos we produced for Pepsi on YouTube
  • We’ll give you our perspective on how to go about creating that winning entry
  • We’ll also appear at upcoming PepsiFilms events as a peer filmmaker judge so you know that somebody out there understands what you’ve been through

We really hope to be seeing you at PepsiFilms Barcelona but if not then we will definitely see you at the numerous PepsiFilm competitions in the future.  Check out for upcoming events and feel free to contact us anytime with thoughts, comments, or questions!

Lawrence and Hagan