Short Film Prize Fell Short

I am still waiting to hear back from a few sources . . . but this is what I have so far:

 

It wasn’t until nearly a month after Team Persons won the novice category for the contest, “Collaboration . . . A Short Film Contest”, that Jon Wolding, “Dash’s” editor, began to think that they had been scammed. 

 

“I had heard about the contest through a mass email,” Jon said.  The application process was simple.  The film team must consist of no less than six members and pay Entertainment Incubator Industry, Inc, an incorporated non-profit organization, $95 per person, i.e., $570 per team.  The film must take no more than 30 days to produce, be less than five minutes long and cost no more than $500.  Susan Schein, the organization’s leading member, claimed in a 2005 newsletter, that this annual contest has had over 2500 registrants thus far.

 

The contestants were competing for a private meeting with the head of Production and Development at Lions Gate Films in Los Angeles and more than $150,000 worth of Florida production services, inclusion in a gala premiere showcase before an audience of senior national film industry decision makers and others and an array of other prizes donated by entertainment industry leaders. 

The prizes were cited in many news articles, online resources and directly from Susan Schein of Miami. In a blog website called Tampafilmfans.com, Susan titled the blog entry “Lions Gate Short Film Contest.”

Wolding states “I was under the impression that Lions Gate was directly involved with this contest.” At an October 25th 2005 orientation session, held at the Educational Channel offices in Tampa, Wolding spoke with the 2005 winner whom said he still had not yet met with the Lions Gate executives. 

The film crew was featured on the cover of the TBT* on January 6th 2006. The article focused on “Dash” and another local production for the event entitled “Persuasion”. Both productions were chosen in the top 15 category and were invited to the awards gala.

On January 14th 2006, Team Persons attended the $95 per person awards gala in Miami, at the Mayfair Hotel and Spa. The film viewing and awards followed the reception at AMC Coco Walk Theater and finished at the Oxygen Lounge when the allotted time ran out at the AMC Theater.

Team Persons accepted the award for first prize winner in the novice category, thus entitling them to $50,000 in services donated by the entertainment industry leaders and a critique of their work by senior industry executives from such companies as Lions Gate, HBO and Picturehouse Films.

But this was not the case.  Industry experts critiqued the top winning teams, but they were not from the above-cited organizations. 

When Team Persons asked about the prize allocation at the awards gala, Schein told them “to just enjoy the evening and we’ll talk about that later.” When “later” came, she said that she was too busy to discuss the details. Wolding called Schein a second time and was told by her that she was going to Europe and would call him when she got back. 

Finally, Schein divulged to Jon more information about the $50,000 prize, “We are looking for arrangements in your area.” This is when Wolding realized he might have been scammed; Entertainment Incubator Industry Inc, had not secured the prizes before advertising and planning the event.

In December of 2006, Team Persons were emailed a “certificate” which appears to have been unskillfully created on the Microsoft Paint software program.  The document claimed they had received $35,000 worth of studio time from GStar Studios.   Manolo Celi, the winner of the 2006 professional category, had warned Wolding of this offer.  Turns out, GStar is a film school out of West Palm Beach that offers free studio space to any independent filmmaker producing a film under one million dollars.

Team Persons is disappointed because “She (Schein) is trying to give us something that is free and trying to put a monetary value to it.”

 

When asked if anything positive came out of this endeavor, Wolding did state that “it was cool to work with so many people and to have such a huge collaboration.” 

 

Currently, Jon Wolding has a lawsuit against Entertainment Incubator Industry, Inc. and is attempting revoking their non-profit status. Susan Schein has not returned phone or email messages to comment on this story. 

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2 Responses to “Short Film Prize Fell Short”

  1. Short Film Contest Prize Fell Short: By Courtney Herrig ( Revised) « USF Advanced Reporting Says:

    […] USF Advanced Reporting Students in Advanced Reporting at the University of South Florida « Short Film Prize Fell Short […]

  2. Aaron Says:

    This is an intriguing story. Can’t wait to find out the rest.

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