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The Failure of ON THE LOT and how a good idea, corporatized to "quasi good tv" motivates filmmakers to create KarmaCritic!

Hey folks, Harry here... I've had a lot of friends that were excited about OnTheLot - but I always kinda felt it'd be bullshit, like most reality contests. I had sources that told me pretty much all of this story, as it was playing out for quite some time. I chimed out, when I watched the films by the contestants they chose. There's a couple of very talented filmmakers there... but there were a ton that were far better. And you really have to go no further than the folks that did the GRINDHOUSE trailers to see how wrong this show went. They sought television personalities, not filmmakers... It's sad that Spielberg and Fox didn't recognize the organic film community that they had created and allowed it to naturally evolve... but that doesn't adhere to TV production schedules... They needed to allow filmmakers the freedome to be as wild as they wanted - and bleep or blur objectionable material for an UNRATED DVD release later. It's just sad... however, Look what's happened... some OnTheLot-ers have taken matters into their own hand - and for everyone that wanted to see it done with more freedom... here you go...

Hey Harry... the story I have to tell you, involves the reality TV show ON THE LOT, and how it alienated us contestants, and how we made our own site and how FOX's VP of Branded Media fought us personally in Wikipedia, and how we have our own contest now... and how you can help make a lot of dreams come true for a lot of people. Its a lot so I better get started. Like almost 16 000 wannabe filmmakers from around the world, I joined OTL after seeing Speilberg's face at and taking him at his word that it was going to be really cool. And it was, at first. I'm talking about December last year, maybe January. By February, things started to turn sour. The submissions deadline was Feb 16th, and there was way too much speculation about who would be called for round 2, and whether it would be announced, and what would happen. We all signed a lengthy contract but so many things had happened differently than what was written, that.. true to Hollywood, "nobody knew anything". Except the producers of course. They had already picked their 100 or so semifinalists by January, thats right, they already knew who was going to round 2, before round 1 was even over. I know this from talking to semifinalists who submitted their round 2 film sometime in January. Hold on to that thought, I will recall it in a little while. By March, moderation at had turned basically Orwellian. Threads were deleted, accounts were deactivated, blogs censored... all for -speaking- anything negative about the show. It was ridiculous. I wasnt one of the people bashing the show, actually, to be honest, when I started seeing contestants drop off much like Nazi officers during the Night of the Long Knives, I figured they probably had done something to deserve it. But then it kept happening man. Over and over, by April it reached the point where the banned list read like a Who's Who of the best filmmakers in OTL. Oh yes, we knew each other. You see, despite FOX, we had become a community, and we knew each other. Many films and partnerships happened because of networking over at OTL, despite Big Brother. By my birthday, April 21st, I had had enough. The deletions of contestants were getting ridiculous. When the moderator quoted to me from the contract, where it says "FOX reserves the right to delete (anything) for any reason at any time", that did it. I started a new website, for the community of exiles from OTL. That day, right there. It was done by the weekend (its a drupal installation, not as complex as AICN, but you get what I mean). And within hours of opening, we had a flood of really talented exiles, plenty of semifinalists, including people who told Ratner ... things.. in his face... things... that they were contractually not supposed to tell me about :) And thats how became's public enemy number 1. Even to this day, if anybody, no matter how established or respected, posts the words "karmacritic" over there... the words first turn automatically into "BLEEP". Within 5 minutes the post is deleted, within 10 minutes the user's account is banned, and in 15 minutes his whole IP is banned (so he wont make new accounts). Then all the posts that person EVER made, go byebye too. OTL uses drupal, like you do in, like I do in, so you know all these things are possible with Watchdog triggers. They do it. Here's the part about Jeff King, Vicepresident of FOX's Branded Media: someone (not me) posted in Wikipedia about karmacritic in the entry for ON THE LOT. At first it was a just a throwaway sentence, but as more people got banned, I guess they started venting a little bit over there, talking about how the "worldwide search" for the 50 semifinalists turned up 21 from Los Angeles, and 48 lived in the US, or how Canada had contributed 30% of the submissions and gotten 4% of the spots, etc etc. And of course, talking about how a bunch of exiles had left for KarmaCritic. Well, one day all of that was just gone. As you know, Wikipedia records the IP address of whoever edits it anonymously, so it was simple for me to track it to 20th Century Fox. I posted about it in my blog, and I guess the person saw it, and the next wikipedia revert was done using an account: "jeffkingla". Of course, if you google that, you'll land in the myspace account of Jeff King, and he says there, he's the VP of FOX's Branded Media. So thats when I knew they really had it for us. (Links and my tale of when it happened, can be found here: Click ). Anyway, I'll wrap it up because you're a busy guy. When OTL's ratings went to the toilet, a producer put his foot down and said no more money would be sunk on letting the remaining contestants make new flicks. So, creative as always, FOX started using all of the 2nd and 3rd round submissions films from back in January/ February, and passing them as new. How they get away with lies like this without someone suing them is beyond me. But until last week, thats exactly what they did. Meanwhile KarmaCritic has kept going, and now I can claim six degrees of separation from you: my friend Ezequiel Martinez (a writer, one of the semifinalists) is a friend of Lee Alfred III, who is working with Tarantino on HELLRIDE, who is your buddy. Yay! 4 degrees, actually, nice! And through connections like this, we got Jon Brown, the manager of STEVEN DE SOUZA and Tova Laiter, the producer of DIE HARD 3, EVITA, and others, to be judges for OUR OWN CONTEST. And that Harry, is why I write to you today. God, I dont know if you've read this far, I so hope you have. Our Screenwriting development contest is not a typical contest where you just submit and forget about it until they call you. Round 1 is a one-page synopsis, a video pitch, and the first five pages of the script. Round 2 is a treatment, and the first 30 pages. Round 3 is the whole shebang and the prize is to get repped by Jon Brown and hopefully shopped around town by Tova Laiter. Harry, Karmacritic represents a lot of things that are good about filmmaking. It wasnt just standing up to "the Man", as much as it was creating a place, a community of talented people who want to collaborate and just create cool-ass films. So all this leads me to show you our promo. Its right here: Click (actually, that's my version of it, Ezequiel's version is a lot faster, right here: Click ) I'm telling you all this, you may do what you will with this info man. If you were to help us pass the word about our contest (round 1 begins 7/7/7) ... you'd make enough good KARMA to last you for three generations. But up to you. We're sending a press release to every other news site, but this is the first email that goes out, (and all the others will be from a template btw), because I've been an AICN fan for a long long time.. for many reasons. Take care, its a shame I'll never be able to enjoy a buttnumbathon at the Drafthouse anymore. Its one of the things I wanted to do in life before I die, but ah well. Marco
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