Product placement or nothing

It’s nearly impossible today to make a film critical of the corporate culture that we live in today. Actually, it’s nearly impossible to make a film with any sign of the corporation infested world we live in every day of our lives.

When I leave the house, I see the signs of every corporation out there. I see billboards. I see ads. I see the stores themselves. Hundreds of them, but mostly of the same multi-billion dollar companies. You know them all, McD, Target, Abercrombie, etc.

But if you look in a film, you will find almost none of it.

When you make a film, every logo, every sign, every ad has to be cleared by the company. So, if I want to make a film set at a fast food restaurant, forget about setting it at Burger King. If you want to make a film when someone gets a burger, forget about having him stop at Burger King.

But wait, there is product placement. Even Shrek walks around a world where Starbucks is on every corner. They’ll even pay for this. One of the first jobs we have on a low budget film is getting product placement so that we don’t have to pay for all the craft service and props. We’ll put a coffee logo in our film in exchange for some free coffee. I hate product placement, but we live in a world with products all over it, so why shouldn’t we have some products.

The trouble is that it becomes very difficult to have any sort of conversation about anything when this stuff is involved. How about a film that touches on Americans being overweight? This is one of Americans biggest problems, but good luck getting any corporate logos in your film, despite the fact that corporations are at least part of the problem.

So mostly what we get is a world where the logos are created. Instead of Burger King, we’ll get Burger World, or something like that. It’s not the same thing at all. Criticizing a corporation that is “like” Nike, instead of being able to criticize Nike isn’t the real world. You couldn’t have a character try on some shoes and say he doesn’t like them, if you saw the logo on the shoe.

This is American, and we have the First Amendment, but the cost of fighting a huge corporation to enforce it is too much for most film companies to want to deal with it. It’s a sad state of affairs. I would go so far as to say that the sanitization of corporations in films has contributed to the state of corporate controlled world we live in now.