Winner of the HP Laptop competition!

For the past month I have been running a competition is association with Hewlett Packard. I have been using their PC for the past month for my photos and learning premiere whilst I have challenged any 18 and under filmmaker to make me a film to convince me to send them a brand new top of the range identical laptop to the one I am using…

It’s 17″, got 8gb RAM, an i7 1.73ghz chip and an nvidia Quadro 5000m graphics card.

I didn’t want the most technically proficient video, I wanted to the most passionate. The last thing I want is the winner to take the prize and sell it on ebay. I want this laptop to be used to make films. To help the filmmaker improve enormously as this is super powerful and with Premiere CS5 this can do real time H264 editing. Pretty special!!

I chose a wide range of judges to help me. Paul Antico from Boston, Eric Kessler from Illinois, Joseph Stunzi (himself young) from Georgia, Gert Kracht from The Netherlands and Rob Imbs from Buffalo. These guys along with me vary in ages from 20 through to 40. We have been a wide variety of background and experiences amongst us. Only one is not a filmmaker and that is Eric but as the owner and main man of Kessler Crane he knows his stuff!

This has been incredibly hard for all of us. We have watched all 31 videos and basically want to give a laptop to each and every one of you. There was very little to separate most of them. We actually disagreed on the top three quite drastically!

The entries were so strong! Here are a few below:

The Peak from Andrea Rico on Vimeo.

The story of my passionate awakening of documentary filmmaking using the perspective of a rollercoaster and the child creating it.

The moment in which my film teacher messaged of the Laptop competition had me immediately running to the computer I have at home. I began to ponder what method I would approach this project, and I would grow anxious as the seconds passed. Leading me to sleepless nights over thinking of this amazing opportunity. Unfortunately, I was unable to thoroughly complete this video as i had wished. I was limited by the inability to flexibly use the equipment offered by my Film Production class at my high school.

Previously, I had been attempting to buy an editing program for the computer I have at home, but the speed of the computer would not allow me to edit whatsoever and the idea of buying a computer could not be afforded either. For those of you reading this, I have been waiting for this moment to come by since I truly began to have film-making in my everyday life. I would be forever grateful and wholly appreciative of this opportunity.

My sincerity can not be expressed with words. Thank you.

Philip Bloom | Laptop Challenge (Lower Bitrate) from Nathanael M on Vimeo. These two videos were done after this entry, so please check them out!


So, when I first saw the blog entry for this laptop I was literally shaking with excitment. I wanted to get started straight away, but seeing as it was 11 at night, I couldn’t.

The next morning I was on set for a local film ( so I couldn’t start till half 7 that night, when I shot an interview with my dad. I had no mic so excuse the crappy audio.

Well, basically, I have a passion for film-making, if that’s what you want me to say. But those are just words. It’s not just passion, it’s happiness, love and excitement and for me it’s simply what I want to do 🙂

But, using a slow desktop computer with Sony Vegas is not an ideal setup for 1080p 550d editing. That’s where this HP i7 Laptop comes into play. It would make a world of a difference. And, whether I get it or not rests entirely upon you, Philip Bloom, and the judges. So, please choose wisely as this could change the fate of my career!


Christian Vasquez // HP Laptop Entry from Christian Vasquez Videography on Vimeo.

Hi, My name is Christian Vasquez. I am 16 years old and i’m from Dallas TX. I am in love with film. I find it hard to express how..obsessed(?) I am with film. I view film as a way for me to enjoy my lifetime. I want to show the world all of my ideas that’re trapped in my head, I want to show people the great and mysterious, and sometimes frustrating and sometimes funny, paradoxes of life. This laptop would RADICALLY alter the rate at which I am learning about everything. I dream of working as a cinematographer, or a DP or a Director, or an editor..or a sound designer/engineer..all day. Everyday. This laptop would help me in every field and would allow me to explore the world and what it has to offer me. Thank you for your time.

* I apologize for the completely blank screen at the end, My computer kept crashing..and crashing..and crashing..and I needed to render in order to turn in on time.

Ollie Robbins – Philip Bloom HP Competition from Oliver Robbins on Vimeo.

I’m an 18 year old student from the south of England and have been making films since 2002. I enjoy making films of all genres, and have had some success in various film festivals and competitions.

I started out filming on Hi8, and over the years have transitioned through DV until my recent acquisition of a Canon 7D. The 7D for me has been everything that I’ve hoped for from a camera – enabling me to create beautiful images but with total control over all aspects of the way I shoot. My biggest challenge at the moment, having made the step up to HD, is editing and post-production on an under-powered home PC. Much of my time is spent working out how to get round these technical challenges. As I tend to demand quite a lot out of my editing software, no project ever seems to be trouble-free. Countless failed renders, skipped frames, crashes and sync issues plague most of my post-production work. Colour-grading often presents a challenge too far for the PC, and I’m frequently forced to compromise my vision of a completed film. Having invested all of my savings in my fantastic new camera, I’ve had to start saving from scratch for a new PC.

Film-making combines so many of the things that I’m passionate about. I’m a keen photographer, and am so glad I finally have the ability to take complete control over aperture, shutter speed and ISO when shooting. The nasty ‘video-look’ all of my previous cameras have produced has been the bane of my life and I’m so happy to have been able to invest in a camera that gives me the control and gorgeous image that I’ve wished for so long. Though in a way I’m grateful that DSLRs and video cameras have been seperate entities up until recently. It’s meant that I’ve had to learn the disciplines and limitations of each and now consider myself to have a fair understanding of all aspects of video-production. Shooting with video-cameras taught me everything I needed to know about codecs, bit rates, lighting techniques, and the issues of rolling shutter and recording to tape (Ugh!). My interest in photography has taught me the importance of composition and so much more about technique and the look I aim to achieve.

I’m also incredibly interested in sound – almost certainly inspired by my friend Henry Tanner who’s a talented musician and composer and who features in this video (and many others of mine). Sound to me plays just as important part as the image, and I take pride in my attention to detail when it comes to mixing sound and ensuring levels are exactly as they should be. I’m obsessed with getting sound as perfect as the image and love what I can add to my videos with the perfect soundtrack. Picking the soundtrack and sound effects is always a fun, and mammoth task for me with any film production. I would love the opportunity to further hone my skills in audio design and finally have a platform capable of allowing me to do so. (My current video editor only has space for 4 audio tracks!)

The version of this video that I’ve put up is the best of several attempts to render a final version. Unfortunately each render was afflicted in some way – and this version is the least bad. (Specifically, there are some audio glitches 03:37 and several during the interview with Henry Tanner 05:00, and unfortunately most of the cutaways in the interviews are completely out of sync)

I approached this challenge with a blend of meticulous planning and a healthy dose of  “let’s see what happens”, a formula which has worked well for me over the years. I find that having a basic structure nailed down early on gives me a firm basis on which to start work, but allows me to deviate from the plan as and when the situation calls for it, especially if an option to introduce some humour into the mix presents itself.

On the basis that many of my films are available to watch in full on Vimeo and YouTube, I was keen to instead inter-weave just a few select film extracts, but within an appropriate context in my film – rather than adopting the (equally valid) “here’s my showreel” approach at the very end.  I thought hard about whether I should restrict my examples to recent HD footage shot on the 7D, but opted also to show some of my legacy work shot on older SD cameras – the resolution may not be up to the 7D’s standard, but I think the extracts demonstrate what standard I was able to achieve with that equipment and the overall look of my work at the time of filming.

I must mention my friend Tim Tyndale’s contribution to this video. Tim, a very talented artist, had previously contributed a short piece of animation at the start of one of my 48 hour film challenge entries. When we were discussing the role he would play in this competition film, we thought it would be cool to have himself appear as an animation. Rotoscoping was something he’d never tried before so we figured out how to do it and I provided Tim with four and a half seconds of his interview footage. Over 100 frames and 12 hours later, he produced one of my favourite sections of the film (07:31).

For my Dad’s contribution, he had the idea of doing his piece to camera whilst shaving – having been inspired by Philip’s Movember videos. My father also helped out a huge amount driving me around to all of the different locations to shoot the interviews for this video. My pieces to camera were originally intended to be shot outside, but several days of shooting at different locations were unfortunately fruitless. We were so unlucky with the typically British weather so I eventually settled on shooting my contribution straight to camera at home. Although the footage I shot on location on the forest didn’t make it into the finished video, I’ve included a photo on this page of my parents holding my gear for me in the freezing cold. They’re both incredibly patient with my video-demands and I thought they deserved some recognition for putting up with the cold temperature for my video – especially seeing as it didn’t make the cut!

From a technical perspective, the major problem encountered was the stability/usability of my editing platform when dealing with all of the original HD footage shot with the 7D expressly for this competiton – The family PC is a 4 year old INTEL Core 2 Duo E6700 which barely meets the minimum specs for HD editing. However, It is possible to carry out some rudimentary editing, but it requires the patience of a Saint to cope with: the preview playback stutters constantly to the point of being unusable; audio and video drops out of sync; renders take ages and mostly fail; the application freezes for long periods; or the PC locks up, crashes and requires rebooting.

Mike Mills – Air
Theme From Casanova – The Divine Comedy
Green Green Grass Of Tunnel – Mum
2080 – Yeasayer
The City – Ben Goddard
The Warning – Hot Chip

Justin Leyba, Filmmaker from Justin Leyba on Vimeo.

Hi, I’m Justin Leyba, 16 years old, living in Chicago, IL. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I just love watching movies when I was a kid and I always wondered, “how did they do that?”. And that is when I tackle the world of filmmaking. I started out with slideshows because i can’t get my hands on a videocamera before. good thing when i came here in america, oppurtunities started opening.

I use filmmaking to show people how I feel about a current issue and how I see it through my own eyes. One thing about me is, I am a shy person, and I use filmmaking to express myself to others whenever I can’t. Filmmaking is my life. I did not decide to pursue filmmaking because other people told me, i did it because my heart told me.

Some few years ago, I made a documentary about my grandfather. I don’t really know anything about him because I was a kid when he was still alive and I only see him a couple of times. But after making this documentary, I felt like I’ve known him for a very, very long time. Me, behind the camera, listening to what his children has to say about him is really touching. It sometimes make me want to tear up. When I showed the final product to his children, I saw mixed emotions. There is crying, and there is also laughter in the room. I loved it when I saw those emotions. And I knew that I have succeeded as a filmmaker.

My current editing computer is a VERY OLD Sony Vaio Desktop. And old means slow. It will take me minutes to even start my Sony Vegas project and I can’t barely preview what I’m editing because it’s always lagging even though it is set to the lowest resolution. It’s just very slow. This laptop would be perfect for me because with this laptop, I can edit my videos FASTER, which means I can get more projects done. And plus, it has always been my dream to own my own laptop and edit or surf the internet wherever I go. This would just make my life as a young filmmaker, who cannot afford expensive gadgets, much better.

So thank you Mr. Philip Bloom for giving us, the young filmmakers, to have the chance to win this wonderful laptop. Thank you!

Music by Matt Gates

Watch this video to learn more about my passion of filmmaking and watch some of my work. =)

Some people say they are aspiring filmmakers. I say if you start to press that record button, you’re already a filmmaker. -justin leyba

SO who won? It was between two people for about 3 days. I went back and forth with the judges. Then whilst rewatching ALL the videos something clicked with one of them. He was me. Yes it’s a he who is the winner. Andrea came SO close. But this guy, everything about him reminded me of him at my age, but with more talent than I had then! His film had humour, felt real, had passion and showed ENORMOUS promise. So although not the number one choice from all the judges he was my number one and I know this is going to surprise some of the other judges as he was not in the running in final 3 short list for me but then he was…

I have never found something SO hard to judge in my life. I am going to get onto HP as soon as I have finished this and write to HP begging them for two more laptops for the two entries who were so close to winning. Nathanael McDonald and Andrea Rico. If not I will find some way of getting them something that will help them in some way. Their entries resonated with me and the judges SO much. Not saying the others didn’t too but these too in particular. Nathanael at 14 is the youngest one here and he is doing so well, he runs a great website and his work is very strong. I urge you to check them out. He will go far, he has immense motivation. Andrea’s work appeals to me the most out of the entrants, her human approach to her documentaries, I simply cannot wait to see more work from her in the future…as I said I want to find a way to help her in whatever way I can even though I cannot give her the laptop.

So the winner is…Ollie Robbins. Ollie had it all. The talent, the right attitude, the passion, the humour. Well done and well done to all the other people in this. I wish I had a prize for everyone and maybe someone reading this from a very generous company would like to reward them. It’s people like this that makes me wish I were born 20 years ago. Well done to everyone…so once more…Ollie’s film!!

Ollie Robbins – Philip Bloom HP Competition from Oliver Robbins on Vimeo.



  1. My congratulations to the winner Ollie! Good job! Enjoy the new laptop and let us know when you have new work out on Vimeo. I’m adding you to my contacts.

    I also want to congratulate the other contestants who end up in our top list. It was VERY CLOSE! It was so interesting to do this and I hope I can join in judging the next competition. It was fun!

    If you did not win, no worries! Go out and make more video’s. Watch them on Vimeo, get inspired and built your own style and stories. BUT, don’t forget one very important thing: HAVE FUN!

    Good luck the next time everyone!

    Twitter: @iGert – Filmmaker, Writer, Seeker of peace, Part-time Pirate,
    Yesterdays Legend, Island Traveler and proud father of
    two beautiful daughters.

  2. Really awesome video! It was the one I would’ve picked! And I can relate to Ollie as well. I saved up like crazy and worked my ass off, for my gear as well.

    It’s important to keep doing stuff like these and for you (Philip) to continue providing these openings and opportunities….

  3. Congratulations Ollie! You deserve it, and Andrea as well. I hope HP grants PB’s request for two more laptops. All of the Videos shown above are great. My son, Phillip, is thrilled to be involved, and I know I can learn a lot from this young group!

    It is great, and inspiring, to see such a talented group of new independent young filmmakers. It bodes well for future film experiences.

  4. Philip, I just want to thank you so much. I am Andrea’s video production teacher. As you already figured out from her video, she is the real deal. So compassionate, so selfless, so focused and so dedicated to filmmaking. This will no doubt have a tremendous impact on her future. I cannot wait to share the news with the rest of our students tomorrow. Again, thank you.

  5. Well done everyone! Future looks bright. Think you need to do more of these Philip. Get together with your buddies at Zacuto and Kessler and see what you can come up with on the next one?
    And well done on you Phil to be encouraging this sort of talent. You might be inspiring the next Spielberg.

  6. As Churchill said “Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is key to unlocking our potential”.

    There seems to be no lack of effort from any of the selected few, congratulations to you all and of course Ollie, who seems a really worthy winner, very well done!

  7. Congrats to Ollie.

    Of course, a good PC is a necessity for a film-maker. For me it’s as important as a good camera. Sadly, I own a powerful PC (AMD Phenom II x4 965, 8 GB RAM and nVidia GTX460) but I don’t have a decent camera yet. Just a bunch of cheap camcorders.

    I’m currently trying to concentrate the money for a DSLR. Will see…

  8. Congratulations Ollie. Enjoy your new laptop! Well done Andrea, Nathanael, Christian and Justin. I really enjoyed watching and reading your stories. You guys seem so much more mature than I used to be at 18… I am inspired… and also slightly jealous. 😉

  9. Philip,

    I’ve already said thanks for this all. But just to add that because of becoming in the top 3 it has boosted my confidence IMmensely! I am now in the talks with a company on travelling abroad to shoot music events, corporate events etc!

    I’m even talking to Steve Weiss about producing a new web-series!!

    And I’m 14! And none of this would’ve happened if it wasn’t for me discovering this website and buying a 550d because of you.

    Cheers Philip, and once again, GET THOSE OTHER TWO LAPTOPS!! haha


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