An auction volunteer from Minnesota recently wrote, “How do you even get some of these items. I’m just frustrated in over my head.”
Yikes! I want you to be inspired, not frustrated. If I’ve got tips on how to secure a benefit auction item, I’ll share it.
One of the more popular items I sell are those 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. This isn’t a speaking role, but it’s still exciting for someone who hasn’t been part of a production.
Here are some ideas on procuring walk-on movie and TV roles.
Tip #1: Ask family and friends
At a private school auction in Maryland, the committee made an effort to advertise the fundraiser to newer families which hadn’t yet been to the annual event and might not know what was involved. As part of that outreach, they talked about items they hadn’t yet secured, but wanted.
Turns out that 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!
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.
(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. Be aware that there is often no flexibility with these items. 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, tough luck for the winning bidder.
Tip #3: Contact your local businesses buying air time
OK, so maybe appearing 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!
Watch TV to see which local businesses are regularly buying airtime in your market. Auto 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. (Maybe the dealer is one of your school parents and acquiring that item for your school auction won’t be so tough.)
Just imagine, as the dealer is promoting his Memorial Day sale to the camera, two of your benefit auction winning bidders are “customers” admiring one of his cars in the showroom.
… And about that volunteer from Minnesota? After I spoke to her on the phone, she is doing just fine. She’s got some GREAT auction packages already lined up for her event.