Drumroll please… We’re thrilled to announce that the 2nd Annual Tongies is officially happening and will take place on March 5, 2015 in Los Angeles. Let’s just say the countdown to #tongies2015 is on, big time!
You may recall that the Tongies is our awards ceremony to celebrate the amazing work that the Tongal community has produced over the course of the year on our platform! You have continued again this year to raise the bar beyond all expectations. We’re humbled and proud and already tapping our toes in anticipation to give you the recognition (and the party) that you’ve earned!
For a taste of what it might be like take a look at our recap of the 2014 awards with a video, photos and of course, the winners.
Stay tuned to see who gets nominated (and snags an invitation to the in-person event), and remember, there’s still time to make the cut, so keep submitting to our current Projects. Take particular note of our “Swede for the Holidays Video Project” and “Swede A Music Video Project” because the first place winners will earn a trip of a lifetime — to the Tongies, of course.
Remember, your votes determine the winners for the Tongies, so we’ll be sure to let you know when voting opens.
Introducing the latest Tongaler of the Month and one of our shining international stars…Mr. Zoran Petrovski! Zoran graduated from film school in Bulgaria and now works as a television and commercial director there. He takes his art very seriously, but he also knows how to create a fun working environment for his team. Read on to find out how he celebrated when he won Tongal’s largest first place prize to date!
Izzy Francke: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Zoran Petrovski: Everything that I do is a mix of things that spontaneously happened to me at some point of my life. I love movies, commercials and all kinds of visual arts. I always thought that if someday I could work in the visual arts that would be great. When I was younger, I had lots of friends who were musicians and I was the first one who made their music videos. Maybe those were my first steps. And from that moment on my strong desire to be a filmmaker never stopped.
IF: It’s so cool that your passion for filmmaking has continued to develop since you were young. Did you go on to attend film school?
IF: That’s incredible! Tell us more about Bulgaria. What is the filmmaking community like there?
ZP: Bulgaria is one funny place. It has lots of great talents. However, I think it is easier for young talented Bulgarian filmmakers to make progress in foreign countries rather than here in Bulgaria. I’ve noticed that young local talent receives lots of international awards, which is interesting.
IF: That’s so interesting. So, how did you find out about Tongal?
ZP: I am mainly a commercial director. I have plenty of work here, but one day I wanted to do something different. I searched the web for video contest websites and I ended up on Tongal. I liked everything that was connected with Tongal. I loved all the interesting Projects with real production budgets. I even loved the design of the website. I loved the connections I made with the Tongal Producers. Somehow it was love at first sight.
IF: Now there’s a love story! Seriously though, thanks for the compliments, we really enjoy working with you too. How do you typically go about assembling your Project team for a Tongal Project?
ZP: Usually, I try to work with different people every time. Somehow, people in my productions are there for me. We are all friends. When I ask somebody to work for my Projects they feel like they are on an adventure rather than working. They all love it. On my last Project I got beyond my budget so I made a game. Everybody from the crew could bet their salaries – double or nothing. If we won first prize they would double their money. My 1AD and some others bet because they believed in that Project and in the end they won.
IF: Wow, you believed in yourself and your execution…and, it totally paid off! I recently re-watched your first win on Tongal, which was for the Hero Factory Video Project for LEGO in 2012. How do you think your work on Tongal has evolved since then?
ZP: In the beginning I thought it would be hard to compete at the Pitch phase, so I just started working on Wildcards. Later on, I realized that if I want to make something great I have to win some Pitch phases. I started writing Pitches and one day I won my first Pitch for AXE. The only difference from my first Project for LEGO and my last for Heineken is the scale of the Project. The first Project was with a team of 3 and the last was with a team of 30 people.
IF: I love the Video you did for Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash and Bar Soap Video Project. How did you go about planning the shoot? Also, the music choice is really great. How did you pick that song?
ZP: I had never made commercials for bathroom accessories. When I saw the Project on Tongal I immediately started to write my Pitch. I have watched all of the major brands’ commercials and I wanted to make my own. Also, I knew that I wanted to have lots of beauty shots and that I would need top models and a modern location. That was very hard to achieve but in the end everything went smoothly.
The music is the first thing that I search for when I start a Project. When I have the right music I can imagine the entire Video. We have a huge music library. The only thing that we need to do is to spend hours searching for the right one.
IF: That’s a great approach. Your Kiss for Peace Video for AXE won 1st place and was the largest ever single prize awarded on Tongal — congrats! That Video was extraordinarily moving. Can you tell us what filming it was like?
ZP: It was very challenging to make that Video. I wanted to shoot the entire film with a Phantom High Speed camera. I also wanted to shoot by hand without any camera assistants and lots of improvisation. The hardest thing was that the camera can only shoot for 4 seconds at a time when it’s at 1,000 FPS. And in that time you have to start recording, grab the focus, ring aim the object and track it, pull or push the focus and manually stop the camera. And also you have to choose immediately whether you are going to use that take or not because you can’t save all the takes. We had 5 locations per day. It was very hard but we managed to pull off that awesome Video and we won 1st place.
IF: What did you do with your prize money?
ZP: I hosted many wrap parties. My team was drunk for months. Apart from that I hope to build a house with the Tongal logo on the roof next summer!
IF: Haha — amazing! Keep us updated on the house — we’ll need a photo for Tongal HQ! Do you have a favorite Tongal Project you’ve worked on?
ZP: All the Projects I’ve done on Tongal are unique. I love them all and they are so different from one another. But maybe my AXE Kiss for Peace was the first one where I realized that Tongal is the real deal. The Videos that I’ve made on Tongal are actually the best ones in my showreel. I made a fashion commercial, a stop motion for LEGO, a Heineken commercial, my first body wash commercial and a Video for AXE. What more can a young director ask for?
IF: It’s so awesome that you were able to create such a variety of unique Projects through Tongal — that’s hugely important to us. I also recently read that you have directed episodes for the Bulgarian TV show Glass Home. That’s so cool! What has been your favorite thing about directing for that show?
ZP: I’ve directed 3 of the best film TV series in Bulgaria. “Glass Home,” “Revolution Z,” and “Undercover.” There are lots of advantages working on TV series. You learn to work fast, you meet all the great actors, and you can improvise as much as you want. In some episodes I use just wide lense cameras, in some I made most of the scenes in one shot. Sometimes I make storyboards, other times I make shot lists at the last minute, right before actors come on set. Working on a TV series is great, you get so much experience, it seems like going to film school but for free.
IF: Sounds like it’s been a great learning experience! What are the differences between directing a commercial and an episode for TV? How do you approach each one differently? Which do you prefer?
ZP: I prefer commercials, I like that you can visualise everything days before actually shooting. You know the exact music that you will use for editing. You know the exact places where you are going to shoot. You know all the shots from the storyboard and you are much more prepared and confident. In a TV series you do not have all the time you need. Sometimes you see the locations minutes before shooting there. You have a story board just for hard action scenes. Working on TV Series gives you freedom to improvise on set, while working on commercials you have to be prepared days before that.
IF: What are you working on at the moment, on Tongal or otherwise?
ZP: Now I am working on Tongal and with local advertising agencies on some commercials. Also we are preparing a new season of the TV Series “Revolution Z.”
IF: Do you have any advice for other Tongalers?
ZP: Don’t work just to make money and never give up. If you don’t win the first time try again and again. If you can’t win some Project, look for the mistakes you made, after a while if you work in one direction you will advance so much that the success will follow. Be different, have your own style. I read in one interview that if you see a Tim Burton movie without seeing the titles you will recognize his style. So first of all work on your style. And again, work for the pleasure and not for money.
Thank you for that very thoughtful advice, Zoran. It’s always good to be reminded to do what you love and to never give up on making your dreams a reality. Thanks for your time, and keep us updated on the house with the Tongal roof, we can’t wait to come visit! As always, we are looking forward to your next great Tongal Project.
‘Exposure’ – it’s a term referenced in every single brief to describe the intended usage of the content created through the Tongal platform. Sometimes, it’s on a brand’s social media channels, sometimes it’s their latest microsite or revamped website, and other times, it’s even broadcast TV, you know, that thing your parents watch “Survivor” on. With so much exceptional work being created by you, our community, the volume of content currently being deployed “in-market” has never been greater! Check out some of the cool places where we spotted Tongal work currently in the wild:
Project: Gillette Clear Gel #NoSweat
Description: Gillette wanted relatable, fun Videos that were 30-90 seconds. The Videos had to convince men to switch to their Clear Gel deodorant because it’s the only solution to avoid sweat, odor and white marks!
Idea: The Smart Solution for Goes on Clear by Ngarto Februana
Video: Wait, What Memo? by Patrick Smith
Where in the Wild: Gillette’s YouTube channel and running in preroll on GQ’s website
Project: Celebrate Annie’s
Description: Annie’s designed this Project to celebrate their 25th Anniversary! The creative ask was wide open on this one, as long as you created a 30-90 second Video that shared the goodness of Annie’s.
Video: A Homegrown Thanks by Nathan Balli
Where in the Wild: Annie’s website and on their Facebook page and YouTube channel
Fun fact: This Video was a Wildcard submission
Project: P&G Everyday All Things Mom
Description: P&G wanted 60-90 second shareable Videos that were witty and authentic! The Videos had to be centered around the motto for their P&G Everyday Site which is, Welcome to the Place for All Things Mom.
Idea: Nosy Neighbor by Affect Films
Video: Rear Window by Patrick Muhlberger
Where in the Wild: P&G Everyday’s website and their YouTube channel
Highlight: It has +1 million views on YouTube
Project: Virgin America Break Free
Description: Virgin America wanted 30 second Videos that woke people up from their “Stockholm Syndrome” experience of remaining loyal to other airlines that under deliver on promises. The Videos had to be fun and quirky, while highlighting the benefits of flying Virgin America.
Idea: Why Change? by Robbie Chafitz
Video: Outdated Airlines by Pretty Nifty Productions
Idea: Always out of Grasp by Joel Bergen
Video: Never Going to Get It by Paul Charney
Video: Snap out of it! by Pretty Nifty Productions
Where in the Wild: Virgin America’s Loyalty Made Me Do It microsite and their YouTube channel
Highlight: Virgin America will be playing Never Going to Get It as in-flight entertainment
Fun Fact: Both of Pretty Nifty Productions’ Videos were Wildcard submissions
Project: Lenovo Yoga My Way
Description: Lenovo wanted two 60-90 second Videos; one that outlined four different challenges Lenovo had planned in the Yoga devices contest and the other a wrap up Video of the best submissions to the contest once they close. The Videos had to be creative and include a “call to action” for young, hip millenials.
P.S. it had nothing to do with the stretchy sport!
Video: Rock the Yoga by Extraneous Noise
Where in the Wild: Lenovo’s YouTube channel and Instagram
Highlight: The Video kicked off their #YOGAmyway campaign on their tumblr and Facebook pages
Project: Russell Athletic Together We R
Description: Russell Athletic wanted a 30-second Video and an extended Director’s cut up to 120 seconds that ran with the message, “Together We R.” It had to be an inspiring and moving spot that focused on young athletes playing and training as a team.
Video: Out of the Shadows by Robert Cummins
Idea: There’s no “I” in “Team” by Kyle Elliott
Video: No “I” in “Team” by Boy and Star Productions
Where in the Wild: Out of the Shadows aired at the Arena Bowl and both Videos will air on ESPN
Project: Lay’s Kettle Cooked
Description: Lay’s wanted 25 second Videos that convinced people to try their new Kettle Cooked chips by showcasing their unique, bold flavor.
Idea: Hot in the Kitchen by Milk Fridge Productions
Video: Chip Kitchen by James Okubo
Where in the Wild: on Broadcast Cable TV nationwide for 20 weeks, July 17th – December 4th 2014
Project: Spotify Story of Your Song
Description: Spotify wanted 30-90 second Videos that capture real stories of people’s connections to certain songs. The Videos had to reflect the authentic and unique connection that the story-teller has to their song!
Story: Pour Some Sugar On Me by Sleep Ages
Video: Sticky Sweet by Sleep Ages
Story: When We Were Young by Shane Seibel
Video: When We Were Young by Shane Seibel
Video: Holding Hands by Patrick Muhlberger
Video: Best First Date by Derek Underwood
Video: The World Was Wide Open… by Eric Bader
Where in the Wild: Spotify’s #ThatSongWhen microsite and on their Facebook page
Congratulations to every ideator and filmmaker involved in these Projects! Keep checking the Projects page and submitting on Tongal — YOUR work could be out in the wild next.
This month we spent time chatting with Tyler Funk, the man behind the Tongal legend, North of Now. Tyler grew up in Canada and first picked up a camera at age six. Ever since then, filmmaking has been a lifelong passion of his and he even completed a BFA in Film Production. Read on to learn about his upbringing in the arts, other Tongalers he admires, and his insightful advice for creating engaging content.
Izzy F: So Tyler, what’s your filmmaking background? Did you go to film school?
North of Now: I’ve been making films more or less my entire life. Growing up my parents ran an eco-theatre company so I’ve always been involved in the arts and the storytelling process. I did a BFA in Film Production at the University of British Columbia and during that time I also did a certificate in Directing at Langara College. So lots of film school.
IF: Impressive! I’m curious…what is the filmmaking scene like in Vancouver? What drew you to the city?
NON: Vancouver is more or less the warmest place in Canada so that along with the amazing film community made it a super easy decision for me. It’s a great city to live in and the film community is extremely talented and friendly.
IF: That sounds like a great environment. Do you remember the first thing you ever filmed in your life?
NON: I think I was six. It was a Night of the Living Dead knock-off short film that I co-directed with my brother. We used our two younger siblings as our actors/zombies.
IF: Wow…you were clearly ahead of the times given the recent zombie phenomenon! What’s the most interesting part of the production process for you?
NON: My favourite part of the process is getting to work with such a variety of people throughout production. To me, Tongal is all about collaboration and that’s the part that really excites and inspires me. It’s really amazing to build upon an idea and have all these talented people share your vision and help make it happen.
IF: We love seeing collaboration on our platform — it inspires us too. How did you first find out about Tongal?
IF: That’s awesome. So when you first see a Tongal Project you’re interested in, how do you start crafting your Pitch?
NON: For me the Pitch is always about finding what elements excite me in the Project. It’s often about reading the Ideas and Brief until I think of a unique take on it or a new way of bringing it to life. It’s about taking the Idea and making it my own and contributing to the collaboration and evolution of the Project, all while staying loyal to the Brief.
IF: Great tactic! How do you go about assembling a team for a Project?
NON: I have a fairly set core team that I work with on an ongoing basis. I have an editor I’ve worked with since grade 8, and the same producer and cinematographer for most Projects. As I mentioned before, the part of the filmmaking process that I love is finding new talent to work with. I usually have one or two people in key positions on each Project that I haven’t worked with before.
IF: Wow — that’s amazing that you’ve known your editor since 8th grade! What’s your favorite work you’ve done for Tongal?
NON: I always have a hard time choosing a favourite, it’s tough as for every Project there is something I wish I could have changed or tweaked. That said I’d have to say Tech Deck was likely my favourite as it was just such a fun shoot, and I was really happy how the spot turned out. I think with that Project I was able to really capture exactly what we set out to do.
IF: I really enjoyed your work with Tech Deck too, definitely a fun Video! What do you think would be your dream Project?
NON: A dream Project for me is any shoot that involves travel. It’s an extra logistical complication but it always makes the projects so much more fun and exciting. So I’d say some Project where I got to shoot all around the world, something multi-continental.
IF: Speaking of travel — you were nominated for a Tongie for “Best Long-Form Video” for the Ford C-MAX Hybrid The Real California Video Project — I hear you went on a bit of a road trip for that Project. What was that experience like?
NON: Thank you! Most of the ad was shot in and around LA; lots of laps around Dodger Stadium. We spent just one day on the road as the Prius we had rented had some ridiculous limit to the number of miles we could put on it, I think it was like under 300. We found this out within days of starting our shoot so our original road trip ideas of going to San Fran or to the Redwoods had to be changed quite dramatically. So each day was a challenge of figuring out how far we could drive. We spent a lot of time planning routes on Google. We ended up doing a one day road trip up to San Luis Obispo which was a lot fun, however we had to leave the Prius in a parking lot along the way to avoid going over our 300 mile limit.
IF: That was very creative of you! Your SanDisk Video for “The Next Small Thing” is also really captivating. How did you capture all of that extreme sports footage?
NON: This spot was directed by my North of Now co-founder Gabe Adelman and I helped produce it. Everything was shot with a 7D and a GoPro. Gabe had a great approach of finding the right people and capturing the energy. He’s taken some time away from Tongal but lately has been shooting some amazing drone footage. I’m sure he’ll be back with another awesome sports video soon!
IF: Good to hear, we’ll be on the lookout for his next video! What is your ultimate goal and where do you see yourself going with Tongal in the next year?
NON: I’ve never really had an ultimate goal with Tongal. I was pretty curious as to what Tongal was all about when I got started. Each Project brings new challenges and new rewards and this is what keeps me interested and excited to collaborate on the site. I figure as long as I’m enjoying the process no need to worry about where it is all going.
IF: That’s a wonderful perspective to have! Whose work on Tongal do you also admire?
NON: I’m impressed with so many of the creators on the site and constantly see the work of new Tongalers that totally blows me away. It’s truly such a diverse and talented group. Some of my personal favourites are Don Broida, David Brashear and Extraneous Noise. They’re all super talented creators that produce amazing content.
IF: Who is your favorite film or commercial director out there at the moment?
NON: This is a question I’d probably have a different answer for anytime you asked! However, today I’d have to say Matt Johnson. He directed a film called “The Dirties” — it’s a small indie that won the Narrative Grand Jury prize at Slamdance in 2013, his film totally blew me away. It was an incredibly fresh, fearless film. If you haven’t seen it I’d recommend checking it out.
IF: What are you working on currently, on Tongal or otherwise?
NON: Currently I’m finishing up revisions on our John Frieda spot for Tongal which was super fun to make. Besides that I’m in preproduction on my first Spanish language spot and then slowly working on a feature and a couple short films.
IF: Wow, that’s a cool and diverse group of projects! Do you have any advice for other Tongalers?
NON: Everything you need to make a great spot is probably right in front of you. It’s easy to over complicate the process and worry about which camera or which lens to use and so on, but often times by taking a simpler approach and using a smaller crew you can create more authentic, exciting content. Just go out and do it.
IF: That’s very sound advice. Thanks so much for all of your interesting and creative answers, Tyler! It’s a pleasure working with North of Now and we always look forward to seeing your poignant and beautiful videos!
Location releases. We get it, they’re not the sexiest part of production. But they’re super important and with these quick tips, you can ensure you’ve got all of your ducks in a row and get back to the fun stuff.
1. Get your releases signed before you shoot. We value your time so we’d hate for you to have to reshoot because of a piece of paper!
2. You’ll need a location release for each location in your Video. If you’re filming indoors and outdoors on the same property, then you’ll only need one location release for that location. Location releases should be signed by the owner of the property.
3. If you are shooting at an apartment or office building, the management phone number should be listed on the outside of the building. Those are the folks who should sign your location release.
4. Universities and most city buildings (like a City Hall) usually have their own filming offices. Google the location + filming office and the contact info should come up. Some of these locations may also require filming permits.
5. Please don’t have the security guard (or janitor… or your friend) sign the location release form. Find out who the authorized representative of the building or space is. This can be done through calling the number listed on it and/or searching on the interweb. You don’t have to go to the library and dig through public records (unless that’s your jam!)
6. Lastly, here are some great resources for finding good shooting locations as well as props and materials in multiple cities:
Variety 44: Great for National production resources including locations.
Locations Hub: A site connecting those searching for locations with those who have them available for use- so neat!
Film Commissions: A list of all of the Film Commissions in the country which all have location info for filming on streets, at city buildings, etc.
We hope this article helps you and location releases feel less daunting now. Filling them out really is easy once you get the hang of it! Of course, if you do have any other questions or concerns send them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org — we are happy to answer them.
This month we chatted with Tongal royalty, Pixeltown Arts, known to his friends and family as Jimmy Ahlander. This Tongaler is no stranger to working with different mediums and loves the challenge of doing both animation and live action. He is also used to being adaptable, as he grew up in Sweden but now lives in Los Angeles. To top it off, Pixeltown Arts recently won Tongal’s first project with P&G Europe! Read on to discover some of Pixeltown Arts’ favorite Tongal work, thoughts on the creative process and Jimmy’s candy obsession.
Romi J: What is your filmmaking background? Did you go to film school? Are you self-taught?
Pixeltown Arts: I went to a High School of the Arts and then I studied film in college and earned a bachelor’s degree in Film and Narrative Technique. After I graduated I stayed at the university for six months working as an After Effects teacher before moving to LA.
RJ: Impressive! So how did you first get involved with Tongal?
RJ: Congratulations! What do you look for in a Tongal project and what specifically attracts you to one when there are so many on the site?
PA: We seek out projects that we can do justice to. We don’t pitch on projects that we feel are not our thing.
RJ: Totally makes sense! What would be your ideal project on Tongal?
PA: See’s Candies would be the sponsor, and the award would be free candy for a lifetime. Or maybe just a year would be enough…
RJ: That sounds yummy…I could imagine a great stop motion spot for See’s. How do you determine what style of animation to use on a particular project?
PA: We usually go through references to get an idea about what could work for each specific project. If the Sponsor has a certain look or tone we take that into consideration so we stay on brand. Often times we see something we like and save it as a future reference.
RJ: You’re great at both animation and live action, and lately you seem to be combining the two. How are the two mediums different? Which one do you prefer?
PA: Thank you! Combining art forms has always been fascinating to me. I think both mediums have their charm. When animating you can sculpt your project as you are creating it, so if something is not working you can easily try other solutions. When we shoot live it’s more stressful; you have to nail it the first time since it’s not fun to go back and reshoot. Of course, the good thing about shooting is that you get to work with more people and the post production length is usually shorter.
PA: The video is a mix of 3D and 2D elements. The 3D elements such as the robot and space ship were created from scratch. We used a real police car for the chase scene, and then duplicated it. In the park scene we had a portable green screen so that we could add the T-Rex and spaceship. The pre-production and planning process were very time consuming so we actually only had 10 days in post. It was a team of 4 people working on the effects.
RJ: Great work! You recently won 1st place (and $22K!) in our first project for P&G Europe (Oral-B Pro-Expert Premium Gum Protection Video Project). How was this different from creating a spot for an American audience?
PA: I can’t say there is that much of a difference. We focused on getting a European look for the actors and the environment. We also got a British VO artist. This project had a short turnaround so to get a pregnant European looking actress with a great smile in such a short time was pretty tricky. We ended up using a latex belly prosthetic for the wides and for the close ups we used a 7 month pregnant body double.
RJ: Impressive! What’s your favorite project you’ve done on Tongal, and why?
PA: It’s hard to just select one, but one of them is definitely Shutterstock. I love the mix of elements and the whimsical aspect of the project. Those are the videos I love to make the most, where you have a lot of creative freedom.
RJ: Speaking of creative freedom, where do you get your inspiration from?
PA: I can’t really pinpoint a specific source of inspiration, I catch things from a mix of different media sources everyday. I like to read odd short stories, watch movies and go to art galleries. I collect ideas from here and there. I have a short-term memory so whenever I come up with an idea I instantly write it down and save it for later.
RJ: That’s cool! What’s your creative process like?
PA: The creative process is different from one project to another. Sometimes I like to just sit down and sketch on a blank piece of paper or go out for a run to trigger the creativity. When coming up with ideas for a commercial there’s usually more research involved. We do brainstorming and seek out references to get a general idea, then usually sit down and sketch up a storyboard. Sometimes you experience a creative drought and it can take forever to come up with a good idea. I’ve found that forcing yourself to come up with ideas can actually halt your creative process. If that happens it’s best to take a break and not think about it for a while, then all of a sudden you just wake up and scream “Eureka!”
RJ: I’m glad your “Eureka!” technique works well for you. Do you have any advice for other Tongalers? Either about Tongal or filmmaking in general?
PA: A good thing to ask yourself after each finished project is “how could we have done this better if we were to do it all over again?”
RJ: Great advice. What’s next for you, on Tongal or otherwise?
PA: We are working on a couple of music videos and a spot for John Frieda right now.
RJ: Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us. Team Tongal is so glad we got to know more about Pixeltown Arts’ creative process and work…we can’t wait to see your next Tongal Project!