Sunday, November 22, 2009

Winner's Secrets from the first $1000 Hunted Youtube Challenge

Thinking about shooting a Hunted episode for the second $1000 Hunted Youtube Contest ( but you've never done anything like this before? Well, neither had any of our winners for the first $1000 Hunted Youtube Contest. Here's what they had to say:

"Don't Try This at Home"
First Place - $1000 Hunted Youtube Contest
Kendall Wells - Portland, OR

Creating and filming “Don’t Try This At Home” was actually a lot simpler than it probably should have been. I had the concept in mind of the shot of a character in the car covered in blood having his realization, so Devala Rees and I tried to write it driving to that point. We had one draft, sent that to Bob, then shot it. We were short on sunlight and the mosquitoes were irritating, so we went with pretty much everything in the first take (aside from the action) without reviewing it and hoped it would work. Editing took no time, mostly because there was only one take of each shot, and then I managed to send it in literally last-minute.

Second Place - $1000 Hunted Youtube Contest
Ann Coccagnia, Los Angeles, CA

Luckily, vampires are the rage right now in mainstream media. Walking my dog past a bus stop one-night, I peddled backward to read a life-sized ad from a job website. It was some clever message about "now hiring" vampires. "Perfect!," I thought. I knew immediately I'd make my video about a vampire trying to hold down a job in corporate America (and the job ad was the opening scene in my video). Luckily my actor friend Jon was perfect for the lead (and available), and he unexpectedly brought his buddies along for the shoot. Thank goodness, because we ended up needing them and they were game for acting. I had no time, no budget, no script, and no props. Honestly, how it all came together (and won second place) is the true vampire mystery.

"The Ultimate Weapon"
Third Place - $1000 Hunted Youtube Contest
Jason Wong - Los Angeles, CA

Let me say this upfront: I’m not a professional filmmaker. When I set out to make my episode for the Hunted Video Competition, I didn’t have years of experience in acting, directing or any other aspect of filmmaking. What I did have was a story idea that I thought was funny. And an understanding that with my lack of experience I just didn’t have the options for telling my story that a professional would. So I didn’t try. Instead of focusing on how I thought they would tell it, I focused on how I could best do it. Instead of shooting scenes in two locations, I found a way to do it using just one. Instead of using buying expensive props, I made them. It was a lot of work to do it this way, but I know it improved my episode. And even better, it made it possible.

The judging was extremely close in some cases (, and there are more great episodes featured here:

But what it came down to during the judging, regardless of the video quality, camera, audio, props, locations, costumes, lighting, effects, action, directing and even acting, it was all about story. The winning episodes didn't have big budgets, fancy equipment, or a lot of experience. They just had compelling characters in situations that you could sympathize with. And that's what makes for a good show regardless of the budget.

For more tips on creating an episode for The Hunted, check out our forum at

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