I’ve been around hitRECord for about a year, and in that year I’ve noticed a growing trend on hitRECord. What happens is, Joe will ask the community to create something - the Fall Formal dialogue, for example, or an intro video to a show, or the Amoeba poster, or a video re: whatever subject was going to be discussed at an event. In all of these cases there were dozens of submissions, and several that really stood out in terms of both quality and popularity within the community. In every single one of these cases, instead of contacting the makers of one of those and asking them to simply make a few tweaks or edits, a third party called in by the moderators re-did the entire record, and no one knew until the final product was put out and they realized that it wasn't anything they'd seen before. And I've been distressed to hear that much of what will be shown at Sundance is not being made in the normal collaborative fashion, but rather by people being contacted behind-the-scenes to make the final contribution.
I've been one of the people with a popular submission in a few of these instances, and it sucks. It didn't suck because I wasn't chosen, because I was always very aware that was an unlikely option, but because I had done everything right - I had put in time and effort and recieved the support of the community or sometimes even a feature - and then it was deemed not good enough to actually be what was showcased. It makes you not want to bother or try next time. The issue isn’t being rejected. The issue is that the opportunity you thought you were being offered was never really an opportunity at all.
This isn't just discouraging to creators, it's discouraging to the entire community. What's empowering about hitRECord is that even people who don't feel skilled creatively can get involved through curation. They can be part of the community and make their opinions on works heard, they can generate ideas, and they can promote ideas they like or edit/make suggestions on ones they don't. And as far as I'm concerned, this process is the main function of hitRECord. We are meant to be a community. It's even the first thing Joe says in the introductory "What Is hitRECord?" video - we are "an open collaborative production company, and this website is where we make things together. " I want that to be true. I want that to be the community I'm part of. But when we lose the ability to even help choose who makes the products that represent us, we lose the ability to stand behind that quote.
It is not necessary to me that hitRECord be perfect, or always fair. It is not necessary to me that there not be people whose work is more popular than others, because I view that as an unavoidable reality. But I do think we can and should aim to stand behind those ideas. I think it's necessary (and achievable) that hitRECord not be hypocritical. Either we are a community and a collaborative production company, or we are not. Either we are different from the way things are run in that truly anyone gets a chance to contribute to the site, or we're just a microcosm of the same flawed system we're attempting to break free of - one where people are chosen and anointed to take on projects rather than looked at based on the merits of their contributions.
I realize we have less than two weeks to Sundance. I realize there are reasons for choosing this method of operation - especially when expediency and high quality are required. But it is concerning to me that instead of using this as a last resort, or having this be the exception to the rule, it's instead become seemingly the only way things get done on hitRECord. And quite frankly, I would rather there be less shown at Sundance of perhaps less finished quality than have a lot of slickly-made things that the community as a whole never really had a chance to be involved in.