If you’re wondering how to sell product placement in your film, you’re in the right place.
The One Reason You Should Care:
That’s, on average, the cost of an indie movie…. per MINUTE.
If that number makes your head spin a little, you aren’t alone! At The Film Fund, we look to help as many films as possible — but costs add up quick in the film world.
Want a different number?
In 2019, Avenger’s: Endgame generated 76 million US Dollars in product placement (of course it was Marvel). This is the scale of budgets in the film world, this is the value of exposure to the brands willing to pay for it.
Numbers like these are why filmmakers are willing to squeeze product placement into their films. The right product placement can be the difference between hitting all of your funding goals or hanging up your hat.
But how do you sell product placement in your short film?
Comb Your Script for Product Placement Opportunities
First, you need to go through your script with a fine toothed comb to try and find opportunities where product placement makes sense without corrupting the vision of your short film in the first place.
You want to make sure that the brands you pursue make sense with your characters, the scene itself, and that it isn’t going to take away from the viewer’s experience.
Do a line read of your script with a highlighter, specifically hunting for places where product placement wouldn’t break the scene.
Settle on Product ‘Types’
It’s hard to visualize a pioneer woman enjoying a Crunchwrap Supreme — it’s just out of place. In situations where obvious, modern brands would ruin your composition, subtlety is key: Modern Brands can be showcased (but not named) in shots.
This allows some pieces to be highlighted (think jewelry, wine, furniture, clothing) without breaking continuity. By offering someone a showcase of their products, you might find they’re happy to provide the prop (temporarily) at no cost to you.
In more contemporary settings, you avoid this problem. Any brand is fair game — now make the product make sense in your scene. We all know how jarring it can be when it’s not done cleanly.
Shoot Some “Hero Scenes”
Of course, it’s important to understand that brands are going to want to have some kind of idea how their product is going to be showcased in your short film.
These companies have a clear interest in promoting their brand name and products; They are also looking for opportunities to expand brand recognition and connect with new customers.
For these reasons, it’s not a terrible idea to shoot a couple of really basic “hero scenes” if you can that show exactly how you’re going to utilize their products on screen.
You don’t want to use their products specifically in these “hero scenes”, though. That could actually get you into a little bit of hot water if you haven’t already secured their permission. Instead, use something generic but show them that their product would be hot swapped out when the scene is shot for real.
All that’s really left to do is pitch, pitch, pitch!
If you are a new independent filmmaker the odds are pretty good you’re going to have to reach out to a couple of different brands until you find one that is interested in not only allowing you to place their product, but one that can also provide you with enough funding for your film to make it worthwhile.
Wait – How do I ask brands to buy product placement?
Nicely, of course.
Jokes aside, your goal as a filmmaker (turned advertiser) is simple – you need to show the business the value you can bring to them.
The important thing to remember is to leverage your skills – good advertising is often time consuming and difficult. If you pitch it right, the business will feel like you’re doing them a favor.
We created an email guide that covers this – check it out here.
Looking to Avoid Selling Product Placement in Your Short Film?
The Film Fund offers many ways to fund your short film! We run funding contests throughout the year, find out more details right here!