Corey Esse's judging diary from AdFest 2017

Corey-Esse640x500.jpgCorey Esse, Managing Director/Executive Producer at top Australasian production company FINCH, acted as Jury President of this year's Film Craft Lotus at AdFest in Thailand. Here he wraps up his judging experience.

Judging at Adfest is a truly rewarding experience. For those that haven't been, it all takes place at a complex of hotels and an exhibition centre 10 minutes from Pattaya; a resort city on the coast of Thailand famed for its beaches.
We arrived on the evening of the Saturday night and jet-lagged, stumbled into welcome drinks on the roof of the hotel. All was quiet as only the judges are in town. We had a few drinks and what turned out to be our first of 21 buffet meals. As a judge you never really leave the complex or nearby hotel chains so you never really see a menu as the hotels love a buffet... And yes there really is an art to the buffet, and you manage to perfect it by the end of the week.

The following day was day one of three for Craft.

Esse.jpgWe start with the New Directors' Lotus, there are not a lot of entries so we get through them in the morning. Petronas was a stand out piece of work that wins a silver and subsequently gets awarded in the main show later in the week another bronze. For all those Production Companies out there I really encourage you to enter the New Director categories, it is a great way to get your work recognised by some of our region's top creatives at the show.

Following on from that we choose the winner of the Fabulous Four. A month or so ago we judged 40 scripts and chose 4 to be made in time for the show. It is a great competition, all young directors should have a crack at this competition next year as the films are celebrated, screened and awarded during the show. We vote our winner after a brief discussion, it was a fantastic film, called "The Dolls with Attitude." Definitely check it out.

Everything is judged on an iPad and there is no talking so you vote stuff in or out as being a finalist and potential medal winner with either a 1,3,5,7 or 10 ranking. After two days we have the long list and start to vote for finalists. It is a fascinating process as you watch your work and work you are familiar with live and die in a jury room for various reasons. We saw a lot of films over 2 minutes in duration, probably two thirds of the entries, this was new to me as I think more long form is coming from Asia than the Pacific who tend to enter 60 and 90 second commercials.

Once we had our finalists we left for the day knowing that when we returned in the morning we would vote metal.

You are only allowed to award a maximum 3 awards in any one category and only 1 gold in any one category. This makes the judging tough, you end up getting down to about 3 or 4 pieces of work that could metal, from there you choose if you think there is a Gold with an Adfest benchmark of 'exceptional, I never thought that was possible' , Silver as 'jealous and you wished you made it' or Bronze. Anyone who wins any metal at the show should be incredibly proud, there are not many up for grabs... The judges end up relying on each other pretty heavily to help explain the cultural signification or intricacies to each piece of work but at the end of the day the best work ends up crossing all cultural tastes and is rewarded as a result.

Esse2.jpgMy favourite piece was for Adidas titled, 'Adidas A Tale of Two' from India.

Unfortunately, Adfest have chosen not to have a Grande Lotus for Craft, I am not sure why and I plan to push for one to be included in next year's show.

I really enjoyed judging Craft, I found the process incredibly fair and felt like we had enough time to discuss each piece of work that was up for metal, I would like to thank my jury for the experience if they are reading this.

The next day I joined the other jury presidents for Innova, Integrated, Good and Lotus Roots. It was great to be in the company of some of the industry's greatest minds.

Ted Royer ran a tight room, encouraging debate and asking why someone had voted against a piece of work if we weren't all unanimous on finalists and metal. At the end of the day it was pretty clear what work should and would win in these categories and I am incredibly inspired by the work that was a finalist and won.

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