VotingBC’s “Second Rolling Thunder Video Contest”

Congratulations to the winners of our first Rolling Thunder Video Contest: Eva Brownstein ($1,000), Rhashad El ($800), Nisha Platzer, Rowan Hurt, and Reenie Wong! See their winning videos.

Deadline for this second contest: November 1st, 2018

Enter Voting BC's video contest to win prizes and promote fair voting.

Calling all filmmakers, storytellers, video artists, videographers, and humourists!

We’re hosting a video contest with ten cash prizes available – to generate awareness about proportional representation in advance of BC’s 2018 referendum. First place is $800. Submit a short video that gets people excited about proportional representation! (Don’t know about pro rep yet? No worries, see our FAQ)

Here are the 9 Contest Rules, and farther down the page is some general advice offered as encouragement:

1. Videos entered should be ultra-short. See Note (1) below.
2. Deadline for entry is soon: 11:59 pm Thursday, Nov. 1st See Note (2).
3. Prizes are: 1st place CAD $800; 2nd $500; 3rd $300; 4th $150; 5th $100; 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th: $50. Total prizes $2,100. See Note (3).
4. The video must be “public domain” (i.e. you’ll let anyone use it) and labelled as such. See Note (4).
5. Judging criteria: Viewers are saying “Surprise and delight me”, so primarily entertainment value; see Note (5).
6. The judges will rank their top ten videos. The results will be the average ranking of the two judges. See Note (6).
7. Videos need to be related to the issues in B.C.’s 2018 Referendum, or voter turnout. See Note (7).
8. The video must have a suitable “Call to Action” presented as a closing graphic (text on screen is fine). See Note (8).
9. Create your own script. What if you have no ideas about proportional representation? No worries, then just use or adapt one of the 24 sample scripts at  Video Contest Sample Scripts

Note (1): Video Length: Aim for around 15 – 30 seconds built around a single idea. The videos are allowed to be any length but it is likely the winners will be between 15 and 120 seconds. Here’s some info on the length of viral videos: http://www.newswhip.com/2017/07/long-instagram-video/  Due to the shortness of these videos, it is suggested that any closing credits be omitted, and placed instead in the notes attached to your video wherever it is hosted.

Note (2): Entry is by simply emailing email address max-at-voting-b-c-dot-c-a with: (a) a link to your online video; (b) your name, address and other contact info (and please indicate if you want your contact info kept private or public); and (c) saying “I am this video’s Video Producer and I have met all the posted entry requirements.” It is up to you as the Video Producer to make any appropriate sharing of prize winnings if you have a team. The deadline is 11:59 pm Thursday Nov. 1st, 2018, Pacific Daylight Time.

Note (3): Anyone is eligible to enter except members of the Committee for Voting Equity in BC (VotingBC), the contest judges, and their respective families. Prizes will be paid by Interac or cheque as you prefer.

Note (4): All submissions must be Creative Commons 0 / public domain. (This includes that any background music must be Creative Commons 0 / public domain and you have gotten releases from all artistic contributors and identifiable people in the scene.) Put a declaration that your video is CC0 / public domain at the end of the video, in the “Closing Graphic” – see Note (8). This can be simply showing “CC0” (that’s CC plus a zero), or “No Rights Reserved”, or “Public Domain”, or use an equivalent vector graphic such as:
https://mirrors.creativecommons.org/presskit/buttons/88×31/svg/cc-zero.svg For more info see: https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/ (The reason for this public domain requirement is partly in case editing is later needed to meet Elections BC rules around what can be advertised, and partly in case editing is later needed to facilitate potential usage by future fair voting campaigns in other provinces such as PEI and Quebec, and perhaps even the UK, USA and Australia.)

Note (5): Besides entertainment value, high levels of creativity, emotion, educational value, acting (including enunciation) and production values are all needed. As is truthfulness, though poetic license is to be expected in humour or fiction.

Note (6): If there should be a tie between two videos, the shorter of the two will take precedence. The judges will be Josephine Anderson, award-winning Documentary Filmmaker at Rewild Films http://www.rewildfilms.com/about-us/ and the famous Stephen Best from the TV and video industry http://stephenbest.ca/wp/index.php/the-short-autobiography/.

Note (7): The Referendum is about whether to accept or reject proportional representation. Taking sides: Could you make an honest and accurate video favouring our old voting system, First-Past-The-Post, instead of favouring pro rep? Yes, you could. Theoretically. After all, aren’t opponents of pro rep making some strong-sounding arguments? See what’s behind them, and why they’re wrong, in Prof. Dennis Pilon’s article at Canadian Political Science Review Vol. 12 No. 1, 2018: 24-49:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JeTwDEJLd6GoWftdGjzKm2Gb21mKZei-/view?usp=sharing

Note (8): At the end of the video you must use a “Closing Graphic”. This can be text on screen, or even video of a cardboard poster you make. It should be shown for around 5 seconds. It must include an appropriate “Call to Action”, but the content of this Call to Action is entirely your choice. (For example, in the Closing Graphic you might show an internet URL such as VotingBC.ca, along with something like “Share for Democracy!”, “Please share”,  “Be sure to vote!”, “Join us – Help make every vote count”, “Vote for fair voting!”, “Get better politicians: Proportional Representation”.)

 

Good luck!

 

General advice, take it or leave it:

Logo of Voting BC
Mainly:
Remember the principles of good story telling and joke telling.

Want to know more about voting systems before filming?
Consider our short Questions and Answers; if you don’t mind a partisan take there’s a good brief article at Pro Rep ; or check out Fair Vote Canada Resources for a lot of info and annotated links, in particular The Top Reasons First-past-the-post Must Go and Mythbusters

Production value tips if you’re inexperienced at videography:
While everything makes a difference, make certain to get your actors to enunciate very clearly, and get good audio recording, preferably with a boom or shotgun microphone. $30 clip-on wired lavalier microphones also give excellent audio, and who’s going to notice them on YouTube? A tripod helps if you’re not rock steady. Bright light makes a cheap camera perform well. Google now has a tool to let you put whatever background you want into your video! Often, the shorter the better so consider cutting out all unnecessary action, pauses and dialogue, and finding shorter ways to express things.

Hosting:
Some sites to consider for hosting:
Vimeo, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram (maximum 60 seconds), Snapchat. Please note: if you upload your video to one of these commercial sites and you are one of the contest winners, then because their Terms of Service often do not permit downloading, we will later request that you upload your video to a publicly available deposit such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive, to comply with making the video publicly available as per Note (4) above.

Video format:
Consider optimizing your video for smartphones.

Video captioning:
Obviously you hope viewers will actually listen, but consider also using subtitles / Closed Captions:
“85% of Facebook video is watched with the sound off” and “39% of consumers are more likely to finish videos with subtitles” https://sociallysorted.com.au/social-video-statistics/ )

Experience:
Learn from the soldiers that have fallen before you-
-Boring is deadly.
-Nobody’s interested in straight educational materials. People are so cynical about politicians and political parties they won’t even read the material sent out by the government.
-Cartoons and pets are cute! Plus they’ll perform for a few carrots (Bugs Bunny), a pat on the head (Lassie), or a few sticks of dynamite (Wily Coyote). They may even win a prize. But they take a long time to make, and seem to lack the human credibility, because…they’re not human, so they don’t work. Give viewers people that they care about.
-For the referendum to pass, a majority of people must see the benefit to themselves; so no use appealing to minority interests, whether blue, red, orange, green, rainbow or whatever.
-Ordinary folk (that’s you) don’t know electoral reform jargon, so minimize or avoid it. For example, “fixing our voting system” is better than “fixing our electoral system”, “our old voting system” is better than “first past the post”, and “fair voting” might be better than “proportional representation” at times.
-If a character mentions proportional representation, which is a mouthful, they should try to say it clearly and cheerfully, and it’s good if they or someone else immediately speaks of it again as the easier-to-say “pro rep”. (Another abbreviation for proportional representation is “PR”, but that sounds like public relations’ PR, which is confusing.) On the other hand…“Proportional Representation” is what’s going to be on the official ballots, so there’s a good reason to use the full phrase.

How should you choose a theme?
Choose a single theme; one that appeals to / fulfills people’s personal interest, e.g. their wanting something from government, their aggravation at not knowing how to vote in the referendum, or their desire for entertainment.

People have no interest in voting systems as such. “Educational” videos won’t fly. In the last BC referendum on electoral reform in 2009, the videos VotingBC developed were informative, charming, passionate and reasonably well done . . . and totalled only 1,000 views. One of my daughters (who’s not a videographer) made a video about catching pesky fruit flies and it got 19,000 views. Consider being zany!

Theme suggestions:

The rest of this page is a longer discussion on choosing a theme. If you’re in a super rush, just head over to Video Contest Sample Scripts for script ideas and pick one to use or edit.

Rare treat for a filmmaker: Your choice of topic is completely up to your imagination, wow! But if you want some hints about what might make people want to watch your genius production and not that other genius’s:

People don’t care about facts as such. More than a dozen government commissions and 88% of Canadian electoral experts supported pro rep? Yawn.

Compared to our old voting system, pro rep will make almost every vote count, give almost every voter a representative whom they helped elect, attract more women and better candidates to a more consensus-driven legislature, improve regional representation on both the opposition and government benches, and more importantly is tied to better outcomes on 16 of 17 measures of government performance (and is no different on the 17th: Patterns of Democracy 2nd Ed. 2012 by the world’s leading electoral expert, Arend Lijphart, 348 pages). Double yawn.

Besides entertainment, what might more than half of your viewers be interested in, regarding (choke) “electoral reform”?

Surveys say…
#1: simple and easy to understand ballot
#2: strong and stable government, able to act decisively or hold steady as needed

That’s the complete list.

So, on the basis of those two things, the main selling points for pro rep might be that:

(1) It’s simpler voting because, unlike the old system, you can simply vote your preference without making guesses about who’s ahead; you’ll no longer have to worry about wasting your vote since almost every vote counts under pro rep (due to a complicated machine under the hood, but let’s not go there). But you’ll probably have the extra work of making two votes, one for your local MLA and one for your regional MLA. Most people won’t believe you that pro rep is simpler, because with the old voting system you just have to make one X.

(2) Cough. Pro rep gives more stable but less decisive government, so that’s a bit of a wash for pro rep.

Things that a significant minority of your viewers are interested in:
-not wasting their vote time after time after time
-being able to directly elect a local MLA
-ensuring the government benches have MLAs from every region
-fair voting, proportional representation and true majority rule
-government by a single political party (overlaps #2)
-more women elected

But those are minority interests.

What to do then, if you want to make a (mini) blockbuster that appeals to most people?

C’mon, think, dammit! You’re a Canadian or friendly to Canadians, you have a Can-do spirit, you can do this!!!! Remember, as a filmmaker your dream has always been to show people something they didn’t know they needed to see (sort of like an ad copywriter, but let’s not go there).

Here’s what people really care about voting, though they won’t admit it to a pollster:

(a) -Their wallet.
(b) -Making their personal vote really count.

Re (a): Pro rep is better for your wallet: higher economic growth, lower government debt, better government services. (Okay, all at the low, low cost of slightly higher taxes, but let’s not go there either. So many grey areas, sheesh.)

Re (b): Pro rep is MUCH better for your vote: Instead of half the votes being totally ineffective (both Liberal and NDP votes, as well as Green), almost all votes will count towards the standings in the legislature. Your vote will count, which will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling. Unless you vote for the Rhinoceros Party. Then the rhino will stomp you to death, but you knew that, right? Pass the referendum to get fairness for all BC Liberal voters, and to make everyone else’s vote count too.

Go negative?

A referendum is sort of like an election. Elections are mainly about whether we should throw the incumbent bums out, but the incumbent voting system isn’t presently perceived as a real bum except amongst a segment of the Greens. Referendums are mainly about whether to change the status quo. In both elections and referendums, change only happens when people perceive the reward/risk ratio is favourable.

-The rewards with proportional voting are real but modest. And:
-The risks from changing our voting system are low.

That, in a nutshell, is why most people aren’t much concerned about voting reform one way or the other. (And that’s why changes to the voting system are almost always just made by a government passing the legislation without a referendum.)

Yet citizens are frustrated with the poor quality of their politicians, and may feel a referendum is a way to get back at them and maybe get a better crop with a new electoral system.

It’s really hard to convince people something new is better, especially if they sense you’re trying to convince them, which you are, right? Therefore, maybe trying to “sell” pro rep in a positive way is the hard way to go about it.

People are so cynical about politics, it’s more credible to knock things down.
Therefore, to really engage people on voting reform, you may want to choose a theme about what’s WRONG with the old system.

And just let people guess for themselves that a newer system must be better. People like to make up their own minds, they’re funny that way.

If you do decide to go negative, remember to establish clearly one or more of the things that are wrong with our old voting system (FPTP) rather than just claiming it’s broken (and possibly try to establish that those faults would not be equally bad under pro rep).

Although people are not satisfied with politics generally, most don’t think our voting system is broken, and focus groups find that British Columbians react badly, with disagreement, if someone just baldly tries to tell them the voting system is broken, or if the problems with the voting system are exaggerated.

To be credible, the case against FPTP needs to be put in more mild, almost Canadian, terms, such as “it’s not working as well as it used to when there were only two parties”, “other countries have found the modern voting systems work much better than first past the post”, and of course all the other problems such as wasted votes (common), vote splitting (somewhat common), wrong winners (rare), dictatorial premiers (common), and lack of regional representation in government or opposition (moderately common).