They Might Be Giants launches video contest judged by John Hodgman

[Video Link]

BIG CATURDAY NEWS YOU GUYS. John Flansburgh of They Might be Giants is a Boing Boing reader, and he sends word that the band are launching a fan-made video contest for their song "Can't Keep Johnny Down".

"The promo clip here features my cat Symphony Sid," says John. "He is usually camera shy but he hangs in there!

From the announcement:

TMBG is inviting creative visual people to make a stylish, smart rock video for the song. It can be live action, motion graphics, animation, stop motion. It can be people jumping around in capes, but they should be very stylish people in very stylish capes or you will not win the contest.

Videos are to be uploaded to YouTube and posted on the official TMBG Facebook page. All videos linked there will be voted on by the Facebook friends of TMBG, but the winner will be judged by Judge John Hodgman and Hodgman alone. Submission deadline is July 15th.

Winner will receive $1000 bucks and a pizza from the pizzeria of their choice. The video will be posted on tmbg's you tube channel as well as posted on TMBG's podcast -- so lots of people will celebrate your efforts.


  1. Aw dang, i was too slow to point out that the headline was misleading. I already had all sorts of cat video ideas bouncing around in my head, and then i hear the video narrator say “cat-free”

  2. I think you meant to say John Linnell was a fan, rather than Flansburgh, as he is mentioned in the video.

      1. Meow. It’s not like its hard to mix up two people named John, particularly when in the next line it again references Linnell’s cat out of context with its owner.

  3. Hey. Trying to get the public to do work for free. I see into you guys. I like you guys, but I see what you are doing there.

  4. Heck yeah, get the fans to do it for free. This means there’s more cash flow in the foam hand fund.

    1. Yeah if they’ll fly me to Siena to get the best pizza I’ve ever had, I’d gladly do a lot of work for them. Otherwise, $1000 isn’t much (although it might get me to Siena and back, to be fair).

      If they were offering a substantial portion of whatever a normal video production budget would be as the prize, that’d be a lot more understandable.

      1. Yup, I’m often caught considering doing spec work in contest form because it’s for people I otherwise like and respect, then the “hey, wait a minute…” kicks in.

  5. The deadline is way too short for a quality video and the prize money borders on insult, but I’ve been such a big fan of all three Johns (Flans, Linnel & Hodgman) over the years that I’d probably submit an entry anyway if I thought I could make the time.

  6. Wow, I never thought a fun fan video contest would generate such ire from so many people…who evidently have something lodged where the sun don’t shine. Look, if you’re a professional video director, this isn’t really meant for you. Go make your money elsewhere and quit your bitchin’.

  7. A better “contest” would be to ask interested parties to submit a portfolio and a proposal, and then give the winner a budget?

    Or ask us to submit a brief video on why we should be chosen to create the music video, and then give the winner a budget?

    Or, if they want to run the contest this way, they might consider letting us all know WHY it’s going down this way. Give us some inside dirt on the politics and economics of the music biz, if that is indeed relevant to the spawning of the idea of the contest.

  8. Am I missing something or did TMBG forget to make the audio available before announcing the contest? From what I see on their web site the song (and the rest of the album) isn’t available yet even for people who pay for it. Is this supposed to be some kind of “nod nod, wink wink, look us up on bittorrent” kind of thing or do they just expect people to make the video sans music?

    Johns: I love you guys like cool famous older brothers who I hardly ever get to see in person, but come on.

    1. they released the song on their youtube channel prior to this video. if you know how to save youtube videos and rip the audio then you should be good to go…although entering this contest means that you are a criminal and have stolen music content from youtube and tmbg…right? right?

  9. yeh, two weeks is a pretty short window for something like this. i hope they realize that they might not get the caliber of work they’re used to with that short window of production. if i didn’t already have a full plate i’d be inclined to pull all nighters animating and rendering but just don’t know if the reward is worth the spec work.

    valve is running a similar spec “contest” now for portal2. the prize is a guitar and some valve swag.

    part of me really detests these forms of “let’s get free production from our fans”. unfortunately i’m partly to blame because i’ve been involved in creating one of them for a national television network and submitted created work for them. i don’t know. you can always say ‘no’ if you don’t agree with it but there’s nothing quite like the thought of “what if i win?”

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