"The Illusionists" documentaryannouncements

indieWIRE’s Project of the Week – Recap & Verdict

By July 19, 2011 6 Comments

My mom perfectly summarized the whole indieWIRE saga, by saying:

All that hard work for nothing.

Sigh. Oh so true. And unfair, considering that the fierce battle we put up was invalidated by a blatantly dishonest act.

The Recap

All weekend long, I went out on a limb, reaching out to thousands of friends, professional contacts, and social media followers, asking them to vote for my film “The Illusionists” in the indieWIRE poll for “Project of the Week.” It would have been such a tremendous honor to win – I’d been a huge fan of the site for years and hoped that by grabbing that title “The Illusionists” could land on the homepage of Kickstarter.com – something that had eluded us so far.

Dozens of women’s organizations, parenting and body image blogs helped spread the word. Friends, associates, volunteers, and social media followers reached out to all their contacts as well. We held an impressive, steady lead all day Friday and Saturday with 77% of votes! I couldn’t believe my eyes and I was moved by the extraordinary support.

Well, my hopes were crushed on Sunday by an opposing team that had been trailing since the start of the competition. After managing to have only 14% of votes for two straight days, they suddenly surged to 68% of the votes in a matter of five hours. We fell to 24%. More contacts – with massive followings on Facebook and Twitter – promoted my campaign with glowing words. I received a steady stream of messages by people declaring they had voted for “The Illusionists.” Yet the poll numbers didn’t change.

On Monday morning I played Sherlock Holmes – after being puzzled by the sudden turn of events – and found incriminating evidence of cheating by one of the opposing teams. The producer of the film which was in the lead had been urging all their followers on Facebook (some 3,000 people) to erase their browser’s cookies and history and vote multiple times. Not only were they tampering with the system – they went so far as to brag about it in numerous Facebook posts. A typical comment on their Facebook page: “I voted 10 times… watched the numbers go up… it was awesome!!”

I brought this to the attention of indieWIRE and wrote to the other filmmakers who were in the run for the title, alerting them of the situation. The site’s editors decided to take action.

As a result, there were dozens of heated exchanges on the indieWIRE poll page – mostly loud protestations from the supporters of the cheating team. This was the ugliest part of the whole ordeal for me: on Saturday I was filled with hope and gratitude and by Monday I felt dispirited and a little traumatized.

What has been missing in the conversation? The acknowledgment that the cheating project had been trailing with 14% of votes for two full days and would have lost to us. The sea change occurred once they suggested to all their friends and contacts to cheat. The timestamp of their Facebook update proves that.

You can find more info about “episode one” of the saga in this post.

The Official Verdict

Here’s the official follow-up by indieWIRE:

– they’re going to create a new, more efficient polling system
– they’re going to nullify the five weekly winners so far
– once a new polling system is in place, my project will run again for a chance to become the “Project of the Week.”

No word about sanctions for the cheating team and whether or not they will be allowed to run again. indieWIRE didn’t explicitly mention them in their open letter to readers. As for The Illusionists? I simply want to move on and keep my eyes on the ball: having my film fully funded by August 5th.

I want to thank from the bottom of my heart all my friends, colleagues, family members, volunteers, and supporters on social media sites for offering such tremendous support with this campaign. I’m sorry that your efforts were nullified by a team of cheaters.

My mother’s sentence? “All your hard work for nothing“? Not exactly accurate. It was useful in a sense because I was able to measure the incredibly strong support of you all. And that is simply priceless.

You were kind, generous and fierce and you managed to stay classy throughout the whole ordeal. Kudos to you, my friends!

I thank you for that and, as I said before, now I’m even more motivated to make a kick-ass film that you will all enjoy.

Stay classy. Stay fierce. And rejoice in the knowledge you’re making a difference.



Update – 5:00 PM Central European Time

I just heard from indieWIRE’s editor-in-chief that the cheating team is disqualified from the competition. Justice (and closure) at last.