By Miv Evans
The dynamic filmmaker of Supersize Me, Morgan Spurlock, set his sights on the world of product placement for his next documentary.
This seems like a rather low-profile target for such a high-profile ‘truthsayer’ and, equally debatable, is whether this is a subject audiences really need an in-depth on. With the ozone layer at no. 9 on the 2011 Social Worries List, would product placement even make the top 100? Or the top 1000? Probably not.
This documentary has been financed by retailers that include Hyatt Hotels, Jet Blue Airways, Old Navy and POM and who are the subject of the film. It is the setting up of these deals, including pitch meetings, which make up the content . Disappointments and successes are duly recorded until enough sponsors are in place to green light the production.
After the brutal revelations made in Spurlock’s previous work, it is a huge testament to his persona that ANY retail company would take a telephone call from him, never mind sponsor his next film.
When we learn that Spurlock is the only person with the clout to OK the final cut, the mountain becomes even more insurmountable and watching Spurlock cajole and charm big business is a joy to behold.
But, although there is some great interaction, there are no shots of the end product so this in essence is a film only about ‘setting up’ which makes it feel as if the story never actually gets started.
What is also lacking is the specific project that motivated the creation of this film. Was there a moment in the latest Angelina Jolie movie when she sipped her Bacardi Breezer and the label hid her smiling/sneering lips? Or did Johnny Depp’s Raybans hide the glint in his eye that told us where his intentions lay?
While litigation might have prevented such shots being shown, not seeing bad examples is rather like being in court with no prosecutor, leaving the defendant with nothing to defend and, by the end of the hearing, no verdict to announce.
Morgan Spurlock’s reason for making this movie is, he says, to see how far product placement should go, yet no boundaries are ever suggested and this in itself suggests that the retailers got the film they wanted, but not the audience.
This business model could be likened to Goldman Sachs funding the next presidential election, which would give the Wall St. moguls a lot of influence over politicians but remind the rest of the population that making a deal with the devil really is a most terrible idea.
Miv Evans is a British businesswoman who relocated to Los Angeles in 2005. She previously had a comedy drama commissioned by BBC TV and sold her first film to REN Media International in 2008 which she wrote, directed and produced.