Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Nokia MiniMo competition


This is a long story, I'm starting from the beginning and trying to give as complete an account as possible, so I've dated it for all the TL:DRers. Sorry I haven't written this all up earlier by the way.

February 2009:

With lots of other people I co-made a film called Forrest Gump in One Minute, in One Take. It looks like this:

(If you click on the video it will take you to the Youtube page with full credits.)

June 19th-21st 2010:

A guy called Lee Moore/Chibihobo messaged me on Twitter (I didn't see it for a few days):

You can see the film he was talking about by clicking here, allegedly it's made by a lady called Jemma Lyon.

It's almost identical to our version. Same ideas, same script, same shooting style. The biggest difference is that none of us made it.

I wasn't sure how to react. If it had just been on Youtube or something I'd have been completely flattered. But someone had done this for a competition, and won something called a "Critic's Choice Award" , for which they received these:

So it based on ours, and it had been entered it into a competition alongside lots of other people's totally original film entries, then won a trip to Cannes, £600 and £1300 of film equipment.

This all seemed a bit unfair.

I thought the competition organisers might want to know about all this, so I left a comment on their website:

And I sent some strongly worded messages to them on Twitter:

(The tearoom voucher was technically an award and I completely forgot that Why I Don't Like Cellars won a Silver Award here. I think the chocolate train was from a raffle and it was so beautiful I left it in the fridge till someone binned it.)

Nokia's response, both to me and to other people who'd messaged them saying the same thing, wasn't very positive.

This was extremely frustrating.

At about midnight, I asked B3ta.com what they thought...

Sorry for angry words and swears, but I was pissed off about the whole thing. I got a fair bit of support, lots of people suggesting I email Nokia's press office, Jemma Lyon's university, etc. In the end I didn't do any of that, just decided to deal with it tomorrow and went to bed.

June 22nd:

Next time I checked, internets had been happening.

My followers on Twitter had jumped from about 30 to about 100 with lots of messages of support, Adrants had run a story on it, as did Ad Age, Mobile News and lots of other sites, and Nokia was getting a load of complaints. They quickly responded by saying it was the fault of their partners, MoFilm.

MoFilm quickly moved to do something about it. They messaged me on Twitter, got my number, gave me a ring, and generally dealt with all this in a nice professional way. They stuck a full apology on their blog:

And Nokia followed suite in a less name mentiony way, (although I got a name check on their Twitter).

So the prizes were revoked and also our One Minute One Take version got a showing at the London Film Festival! All sounded like a pretty good result to me.

And the next day the Telegraph wrote an article about it and somebody interviewed me for the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post, which was weird. All cool though!

Hell yeah internet! B3ta and Twitter are awesome lovely places!

June 23rd-28th:

Except more and more and more keeps unfolding about this thing. Manic from Bloggerheads, messaged me on B3ta suggesting that Nokia actually helped to make this other film to boost up their entries, then hoisted the blame on Jemma when it all went wrong (he's written an excellent blog about this whole thing, although I disagree with him about the other entries, some of them are very good).

I thought this was all getting a bit conspiracy theoryish. I mean I know that lots of companies asking for user generated content make a few of their own to boost up the numbers, but if you're going to do that, you don't let those ones win. Especially if you've got a fair few other entries. And especially if that film's totally nicked from something else they've seen on the internet.

Then Nokia admitted that yeah, to a certain extent they did that:

I asked Nokia what that meant, and they sent me a private message saying that all this representative had done was to lend his phone to film it and say it would be alright to enter it.

Then Jemma Lyon started speaking out. She posted statements to Adrants and the Nokia competition , and I think emailed Hello You Creatives, saying this:

“I would like to make a statement regarding the alleged plagiarism accusations from the Nokia Minimo movie competition.

I was approached by a Nokia representative who asked me to remake any video in under two minutes for his Nokia assignment. I was unaware that this was a competition at the time and did not receive a brief. The representative also promised to give me a mobile phone in exchange for assisting him with his project. I never received the phone.

The Nokia representative was present during the filming of my video and after being asked several times if the film was OK to submit he insisted it was and persisted to show the actors the original video to direct them where to stand and what to do. At no point did the representative inform any of the people involved that the film was breaching the terms and conditions and I was led to believe that the entry was valid.

Further to this, Nokia became aware that my entry was based on another video three days prior to sending me on the trip to Cannes, but they still sent me on the trip and refused to act until the public outcry.

My name has been tarnished by this event. I have been branded a cheater amongst many other things too awful to write and I have yet to be informed of how Nokia aim to rectify this. I aspire to pursue a career in the creative media industry and this libel is a great hindrance to my progress to achieving the career I want. My efforts to expose the truth have been greatly subdued by Nokia and the rule of law seems not to apply to large powerful corporations in certain instances.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that basing my video on Mr Tribble’s creative work was done in ignorance. I was not aware that I was breaking any rules and the Nokia representative never informed me that I was doing so. I previously had no interest in submitting an entry but I was misled into thinking that I was merely helping the Nokia representative, he has since personally apologised to me for the way I have been treated.

Nokia has allowed my name to be dragged through the mud by shrouding the situation with half truths and even some out right lies in order to save their own reputation.”

Finally, I got to talk to her myself over Facebook.

First I asked her exactly what happened, and whether this rep was from Nokia or MoFilm:

Then I asked if she'd name this representative so I could speak to him:

Then when I explained that MoFilm had sorted most of this out, she said this:


So, overall Jemma is claiming that this Nokia guy is almost entirely responsible for making the film, all she did was shoot it for him and stick it into the competition under his directions, and Nokia didn't send her back from Cannes, they just told MoFilm they had.

1st July:

I've just had a phone chat with a guy from Nokia's PR team (Mark who runs their Twitter), and this was his stance:

- This Nokia rep was a part-time employee from their street team, who specialise in doing Nokia-related things in universities, etc.

- He was present at the filming and lent his phone. He knew that the film was a lot like our one, but said she should enter it anyway. However he had nothing to do with the planning, directing or editing of it.

- Jemma was sent back on the earliest flight it was safe to send her on, on Thursday morning (she was meant to leave on either Friday or Saturday, he couldn't remember off the top of his head).

So all in all, I'm not sure what happens next and I have no idea who to believe. I don't know whether Jemma was left to be the fall girl by Nokia or whether there's been a load of misunderstandings.

It's fantastic that our film is being shown at the LFF, but I still think this whole thing has been a complete mess of confusion and half truths. I'd still like to know what's actually happened, and I think a lot of other people would as well. And even if Nokia's version of events is true (and I'm not saying they are for sure), they have suffered a massive breakdown in communication between members of their own staff. I don't necessarily think they should be holding individuals responsible - there's something very underhand about the whole thing.

Thanks again to everyone from Twitter and B3ta and the internet in general, thanks to everyone who blogged about this, I'm going to stick links to all the ones I've seen below, if anyone else has written anything else give me a message. I'm still hoping to find out more, and if I do I'll update.


Blogs/articles I haven't already mentioned:

Film Utopia - thought I'd put this at the top as it raises some interesting points. This whole thing is dealing with remakes of remakes; without Forrest Gump the movie we wouldn't have our low budget parody to begin with. Although I'd argue that Michel Gondry wasn't the only person to ever remake a big budget movie using low budgets cardboard special effects (see Son Of Rambow, which came out around the same time as Be Kind Rewind, by ex-Adam and Joe director Garth Jennings), he was an influence of ours. I think my main problem was that Forrest Chump won for its supposedly innovative ideas for representing a famous film, without whoever created it admitting that these ideas came entirely from our film. Maybe if they'd just said that theirs was based on Forrest Gump and this silly Youtube remake of Forrest Gump in the first place it would have been different.

Moments of Film (giving a nice example of a film competition gone right)

Reputation Online (another interesting take on events)

Blogs/articles I've already mentioned