Benefit Auction Item Idea – Procuring Walk-On Movie and Television Roles

“One of a kind” items always sell well in benefit auctions, and what is more unique than getting to participate in a movie or TV production!

One of the most popular types of items we sell in our benefit auctions are items related to the entertainment industry. A walk-on part usually refers to the opportunity for someone to be part of the background of a movie or a commercial. Take note: This isn’t a speaking role. Nonetheless, for someone who hasn’t been part of a production like this, these can be exciting items to win.

Here are some ideas on how to secure these auction items.

Walk-on movie part auction tip #1: Ask family and friends

At a private school auction I worked in Maryland, the auction committee was making an effort to advertise the auction to newer families which hadn’t yet been to the annual fundraiser and might not know what was involved. As part of that outreach, they talked about items they hadn’t yet secured, but wanted. As it turned out, one of the new-to-the-school Dads had a former college friend in the movie business. He made a phone call and secured a walk-on part to a small independent movie. Based on the crowd’s interest in the item, you would have thought the winner was going to be in the next James Bond movie!

Walk-on movie part auction tip #2: Make friends with your state film commission

Most states have a film commission. This is the place movie production companies turn to for help in navigating a shoot outside their home state. Locate your local commission via an internet search. Typically the Website will list all of the local producers, directors, wardrobe contacts, and so forth. (Here’s a tip: If someone on your auction committee has a personal interest in acting, ask her to be your liaison because she will have a more vested interest in calling local producers.) If an upcoming shoot is happening in your area, see if you can get a donation. The one caveat you should keep in mind is that there is no flexibility with these items. For instance, if a production needs 15 people for a restaurant scene on June 18, and that date conflicts with your winning bidders out-of-town trip, it’s tough luck for your winning bidders.

Walk-on movie part auction tip #3: Contact your local businesses buying air time

Admittedly, being in a commercial carries less panache than being in a movie, but there is good news. If you’re in the background of a movie production, the odds are you’ll end up “on the cutting room floor,” referring to the practice of being edited out of the final production. With local television commercials, you have a greater chance of seeing yourself regularly on the small screen.

To secure these items, watch TV to see which local businesses are regularly buying airtime in your market. Car dealerships might be your best bet. Contact a dealer to see if two of your winning bidders could serve as background in the dealership’s next commercial. Just imagine, as the dealer is promoting his Memorial Day sale to the camera, maybe two of your auction guests are “customers” admiring one of his cars in the showroom behind him.

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