**MASSIVE POST INCOMING**
Are you doing Ultra? - Nope; no way. If I like the ULTRA element I'll just include it anyway.
I'm with you there, at the moment, I can't imagine regretting not doing Ultra. If it’s a great idea, I can maybe use it as a jumping off point for a story, without risking disqualification. I don't mind Ultra as an idea, but I think the comp's treatment of it has been horrendous so far and it's left a bad taste in my mouth.
The first year of it, not even having nominations for the grand prize of it made it feel like such an afterthought and I feel spat in the face of everyone who gave it a go (except the one team who won).
As for the Ultra element that year, I've spoken at length about my feelings regarding it, but I would say that Ultra in 2018 was a fun extra challenge which there was a few different ways to interpret, but Ultra in 2017 made the weekend significantly less fun. I didn't find it some huge extra challenge, which scared me off this year, it just took away one of my favourite parts of the competition, which is creating something new every year. With the decrease in Ultra sign ups from year 1 to year 2, it seems I'm probably not alone in this.
Then the second year, while the actual Ultra was a massive improvement from the previous year I thought again, the comp's treatment of it could do with a lot of improving. My biggest pieces of feedback:
There needs to be (an option for) some award at a regional level
Maybe if there's at least 5 ultras in a region, they can be de facto nominees and the best Ultra gets a certificate. The organisers don't seem to realise I think that a simple piece of paper would actually encourage a lot more people to sign up. The Grand Final nominees don't have to be made up of just the winners of each region (I'd argue this for every award).
Ultra should be judged on how well you use the extra element
Not sure if element is the right term, but you know what I mean. It seems that the Grand Prize is awarded to the best film which happens to be Ultra. Every other element award is based on how well you used it, whether you made it integral to your story or interpreted it in a clever way. I feel that the current model makes Ultra seem like it's only for Grand Final level teams. Now I know, I know technically any team could make the Grand Finals and Ultra is supposed to be for veteran teams, but if some small Gisborne team who's film maybe isn't technically perfect & has a super clever interpretation of the elements that no one else came up with, it's a bummer that the nominations will likely be made up of a handful of Auckland & Wellington teams, with maybe a Christchurch one thrown in.
Change the requirement from 5 years in the comp to 1
Presently I think Ultra feels a bit like an obligation for older teams, last year, seeing teams like Chillybox not take on the challenge, I'll admit I did judge them a little bit for not doing it, but I think it would change the feelings around Ultra if we got rid of the 5 year rule. I understand in its first year that 5 years was important as you needed to ensure teams would have a few films under their belt to do a sequel to one. If this was changed to 1 year, so a new team at least has one weekend done so that they know somewhat to expect, then I think not only would there be more teams signing up, but also it would change the attitude towards it from an obligation for older teams to the fun extra challenge that I think it is intended to be. If a professional production company with a massive budget is only in their second year and think they're capable of taking on an extra challenge, I think they should be able to. Also if a veteran team loses half their team one year, they shouldn't feel judged for not doing it.
Diversify which part of production Ultra affects
I'd love to see Ultra change each year as to whether it affects say the production, the shoot, the writing or the edit. Maybe Ultra could even be an either/or, have two Ultra challenges one year, for example, one affects the way you write your film, the other affects the way you shoot it. Even just a technical one and a creative one. This could help with Ultra's appeal, as at the moment, teams which are more split in terms of roles, may not want to sign up before the weekend, not knowing which part of production it will place more stress on. If teams go in knowing they can sort of steer Ultra towards the strongest part of their team, it would probably encourage people to give it a go.
Ultra has to be completely clear by 7pm on Friday
This has happened the last couple of years, where a rule or element has required clarification via an official statement on Facebook well into the weekend. As far as I’m concerned, if the city managers have to clarify what they meant even 1 minute into the weekend, that’s too late. Obviously the city managers will have to answer the odd question here & there on Friday night as usual. By & large, the rules & elements should stand for themselves at launch, or should be explained on the website ready to go at 7pm if there is some caveat. If one of the elements or the Ultra challenge isn’t 100% clear then you have to say that everyone’s interpretation of it is correct.
Make it optional on the weekend?
This one kind of completely changes the idea of Ultra, so I can understand completely ignoring this point, but it’s an idea. What if teams made the call on Friday night whether they wanted to do it or not after seeing it, would opt in by just checking a box on the wrap-up form. Could be a fun extra thing at launch like “and heeeeeeres an extra challenge if you want a shot at $1000 cash!”. Again, this is more just spitballing, changes the idea of Ultra quite a bit but could be a fun way of doing it.
Ultra should never be something that was a previous genre
No indication that it’s going to head in this direction, other than some suggestions on the forum, but I’d be bitterly disappointed if the likes of one-shot or no dialogue were Ultra elements as they’ve already been in the comp & weren’t an “extra challenge” back then.
Anyway, apologies for the wall of text. Ruth & Ness, I sincerely hope you’re reading this. I know I’ve been one of the biggest critics of the competition both here on the forum and in my films, but it does genuinely come from a place of loving the competition and wanting it to be the best it can be.
As I’ve said, Ultra isn’t inherently a bad idea, but at the moment we’ve only had a sample size of two years, one of which was almost a weekend-ruiningly bad idea, so I think at this stage I’ll sit it out for a couple of years until it’s clear that it’s consistently well-handled, and an important part of the competition, not just an afterthought exclusive to the elite teams.
Would love to hear people’s thoughts on some of my suggestions & Ultra as a concept.