Miami becomes film format pilot
Written by Catherine Lackner on February 5, 2014
Miami is the pilot city for a medium that its creator says is the next hot trend: short films that incorporate sponsored content.
Producer Frank Kelly recently posted on his company’s website,
ReelMiamiProject.com, the first of six short films that not only shine a spotlight on Miami Beach, but also invite the viewer to learn more about the sponsors shown in the film.
Eventually there are also to be films about Coral Gables, downtown, South Beach south of Fifth Street, Wynwood – the Wynwood trailer can be seen on the site – and the Everglades. Each is to run 15 to 18 minutes, to accommodate the way viewers absorb content now.
“Look at what’s happening in film,” Mr. Kelly said. “There’s a big migration toward digital media, streaming Netflix, binge viewing. The traditional model of TV – that you have to wait to see a show – doesn’t really apply any more. There’s such an abundance of content now, it’s hard to commit to a two-hour movie. A lot of films are shorter than 90 minutes, because that’s more feasible.”
For a destination to appear in a feature film, and even become part of the story, isn’t a new concept, he added. Many of Woody Allen’s films take advantage of the ambiance of New York City, Paris, or Rome. “But rarely do you showcase a city, and then get a hint of where that restaurant is, or what that hotel is.”
Mr. Kelly and his wife found themselves pondering these questions when watching movies, and that was the birth of Reel Miami, he said. “What if you could showcase real cities, and incorporate the brand subtly and discreetly? It’s not bling; it’s part of the narrative. Let’s use this model to promote a city as opposed to a brand.”
Sponsors so far include Bacardi, Car 2 Go, the SLS Hotel, Sugarcane restaurant, the Hyde Park night spot and others. Mr. Kelly declined to say how much they pay to be included, only that the sponsors were generous.
When a film is running and a sponsor is featured in a scene, a split screen reveals a link that enables the viewer to get more information on that sponsor. Mr. Kelly calls that “a concierge” advertising approach. “We provide an immersive, interactive experience, which the viewer can then live” by following the link, he said.
Mr. Kelly said he put a presentation on his laptop and went door-to-door to sell the concept, and also hosted film screenings that were well-attended. Word of mouth will drive people to his site, he said.
He recruited local actors, writers and directors. In the Miami Beach film, Eric Aragon and Elisabetta Fantone play a couple who find a mysterious suitcase that leads them on an adventure in a variety of Miami Beach attractions, including the New World Symphony and various night spots. Carlos Gutierrez directed the film and wrote the screenplay.
“I really want this to become something the local filmmakers and talent can be involved in,” Mr. Kelly said. “I made it a point to go beyond listing them in the credits, but also to provide a link back to their relative websites. I want to pay it forward.”