Four Stories: Product Placement and Patronage of the Arts

Published August 10, 2012

ABOVE: (LEFT TO RIGHT) JAMES RANSONE, MICHAEL PITT, AND ROMAN COPPOLA AT THE W HOTELS AND INTEL “FOUR STORIES” LAUNCH PARTY. 

It’s no secret that when Skyfall comes out in November, James Bond will be reaching for a Heineken in place of his signature “shaken, but not stirred” martini. The beer company purportedly handed over $45 million for this polemic privilege, the ultimate product placement. There were, of course, cries of outrage—Bond is a martini man, maybe a gin and tonic here and there, but never beer!—but not $45 million worth. Films are expensive to make, and the money has to come from somewhere. Does product placement necessarily mean sacrificing one’s artistic integrity?

“I think that creative people can make creative things, no matter what. Filmmaking is a collaborative art form, and it takes money to come into fruition so it’s kind of normal, it’s kind of always like that,” actor and indie darling Michael Pitt explained when we asked him about the balance between advertising and art. 

This is certainly the idea behind Intel and W Hotels new film competition, “Four Stories.” Starwood’s young luxury hotel branch and Intel are asking for screenplay submissions to be made into 10 minute shorts in collaboration with Roman Coppola‘s production company. Anyone can submit a screenplay; the only rules are that it must feature the new Intel Ultrabook computer and be set in a W hotel. “Certain limitations or certain parameters can be very helpful… you have to start to rule things out,” Coppola told us. “I do a lot of music videos, which are basically commercials, so to me there’s no shame. When you do a music video you have to figure out how to include the band in an interesting way—to me it’s just very natural,” he continued.

 A panel of judges—which includes actors Michael Pitt, Chloë Sevigny, and The Wire‘s PJ Ransone; as well as a screenwriter; an agent; and creative executives from Vimeo, W Hotels, Intel, and Vice magazine—will pick three winning screenplays. Coppola himself will write the fourth script—but hasn’t started it yet. “I’m actually hoping that once we get the competition going, there will be some work that attracts me and I can work with that writer,” Coppola confessed. As for the panel’s judging criteria, “When I read a screenplay, I’m just looking for a voice, a really strong, new voice,” said Pitt.  

 TO ENTER THE FOUR STORIES CONTEST, OR FOR MORE INFORMATION, CLICK HERE