Award-winning producer and director Lesley Chilcott on branding in film and entertainment

Even though Oscar winner Lesley Chilcott has helped tell some highly important stories through her documentaries, she also knows that brands can play integral roles in stories.

In a conversation with The Drum, filmed in Los Angeles at Branded Entertainment Network (BEN) HQ, award-winning documentarian Chilcott talked about branding in film and entertainment.

The filmmaker, documentarian and producer has put forth some of the most prominent documentaries in the last decade. But Chilcott has also made powerful commercial and branded content work for the likes of M&M’s, Gatorade, AT&T and Corona, among others.

She was the producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, which brought global warming to light and sparked legislation around the world. She also produced the rock-documentary It Might Get Loud, as well as the films A Mother’s Promise, Waiting for Superman, A Small Section of the World, Code Stars, and the award-wining 2015 documentary CodeGirl.

With that impressive resume, Chilcott knows what it takes to tell a compelling story, whether it be a full-length documentary or a short-form commercial. She talks about how difficult it is to place a product within a story and states that brands are better served showing products that make characters’ lives better in an organic way within the story rather than just placing them haphazardly within the story.

“We like to buy things that enhance our lifestyle,” says Chilcott in the interview, alluding to the fact that if we see a product organically enhancing the life of a character, we may be more likely to respect and even buy that product.

Not calling direct attention to products is key, she says. Viewers trust stories more when brands are integrated, taking a backseat rather than a prominent setting. However, in any scene, people encounter things that have been purchased, so that can help brands figure out how to work with directors and producers to place products without being intrusive, which Chilcott says can be more powerful.

See Chilcott's view on storytelling in our What's the Story? series.

What's the Story? is sponsored by Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), the first global network for branded product integration in the entertainment industry, across all media, including the influencer space.

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