Local videographer Les Johnson wants to ‘Show Off Grand Forks’ via video contest

Filmmakers, directors and musicians in Grand Forks can prepare videos, short films and music for the Show Off Grand Forks video contest.

Local videographer Les Johnson wants to “show off” Grand Forks with a video contest.

Local videographer Les Johnson wants to “show off” Grand Forks with a video contest.

Filmmakers, directors and even musicians in Grand Forks can prepare videos, short films and music for the Show Off Grand Forks video contest.

The intent of the contest is to show Grand Forks off to potential tourists or people looking for a place to settle down and is open to people who reside in, work or go to school in Grand Forks and area.

Potential contestants have until September (although a deadline is still being worked out) and as the contest organizer said, it will give people a chance to think about their favourite summer activities and ones that visitors might enjoy as well and how to capture those on video.

Cash prizes will be awarded and the judges will be residents of Grand Forks as well. The videos will be shown at the GEM Theatre.

The brainchild of local videographer Les Johnson, the prizes awarded will depend on how many people vote – currently there is $800 for prize money.

“If there are 300 voting tickets, then the prize money will be divided into 300 portions. If an entry gets 15 votes, it will get 15 of those portions. If it gets 75 votes, it will get 75 of those portions. So there could be five winners or there could be 15 winners,” Johnson explained.

He said the contest has a place for music-makers as well.

Johnson said his field of expertise is video and when he is looking for music to complement his YouTube entries – since he isn’t a musician – he goes for public domain music.

“I think there are people out there in a similar situation or on the flipside, they can produce music but they can’t shoot video and they should be able to enter the contest. If you can shoot video but you can’t produce music and you don’t have any friends that can produce music, you should be able to (as long as it’s legally allowed) use music that you found somewhere else,” he said. “If you’re video’s up on the screen and it’s just video, no audio and it’s contest time and people are looking at it, it just does not have that same appeal and I don’t think those people should suffer.”

The idea came to Johnson after years of recording video of Grand Forks city council.

“I see city council spending our tax dollars with hired pens from out of town again, again and again and I’ve been complaining about that to people, and anyone that will listen to me, for years,” Johnson said. “This latest thing with taking the sign money to do a branding exercise and doing it in a way which I didn’t agree with based on the experts they brought in before. The result is, we have this logo; most people can agree on one thing, they don’t like it.”

Johnson also pointed to the Economic Development Advisory Committee approaching council for $10,000 to do a promotional video, a request council voted down.

“I looked at it and said, ‘Well, gee whiz. A lot of people with this were complaining that they felt the city didn’t go to local people (for the logo).’ Local people could’ve done it and I decided I’d put my money where my mouth was, so I’m soliciting local people to produce videos and songs and I will be paying local people prize money and we’ll try and promote the town that way because I believe that people talk to people better than corporations and hired pens,” Johnson explained, adding that building community spirit was an aspect of it as well.

Maureen and Marius Paquet of the GEM Theatre are more than happy to lend a hand to Johnson.

“We both think Les has a fabulous idea,” said Maureen Paquet. “We are pleased to assist him in any way we can and have plans to throw some money in the pot for prizing, as well as being an integral part of the finale – showing the top DVDs on screen at the GEM,” she said.