Aspiring filmmakers can compete for the chance to screen their work in cinemas across North America through The Coca‑Cola Refreshing Films program, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2023.
Each spring, film students at more than 50 partnered schools submit creative ideas in response to a scriptwriting challenge. For example, this year’s creative brief showcased the big screen experience – elevated by the delicious combo of warm popcorn and a refreshing, ice-cold Coca‑Cola – as the ultimate break moment. The Grand Prize-winning spot will run in Coca‑Cola partnered theaters across the United States and Canada, including AMC Theatres, Cinemark, Cineplex and Landmark Cinemas.
Five finalists receive $18,000 to hire a production crew and fund the production of their 60-second short films over six months, with hands-on coaching from marketing and filmmaking mentors. The students have access to a RED camera package to use during filming and a post-production session with a Company 3 colorist.
“In addition to having their films appear on the big screen as cinemas return to pre-pandemic attendance levels, these young filmmakers will gain real-world experience and exposure to the business behind the filmmaking process through weeklong experiences that include studio presentations and meetings with theater executives,” said Sarah Kate Sims, director, Coca‑Cola Refreshing Films Program.
To celebrate the 25th year of Coca‑Cola Refreshing Films, Coca‑Cola is partnering with Cinemark to present the Fan Favorite Award. From April 1-30, moviegoers can watch the five finalist films vote for their favorite and win instant prizes. The team behind the film with the most votes will receive a cash prize. Cinemark is promoting the activation in theaters with custom graphics and QR codes on popcorn tubs and Coca‑Cola fountain cups. Vote here.
“In addition to the countless benefits offered to students, our cinema customers love the program because these are the filmmakers who will be making the big movies of tomorrow,” Sims said. “And Coca‑Cola loves it because we get access to great branded content while giving back by supporting emerging talent. That’s what is so special about what we’ve done for the last two-and-a-half decades.”
Building a More Inclusive Entertainment Industry
The Coca‑Cola Refreshing Films program is committed to promoting diversity by giving students from underrepresented backgrounds and with varied perspectives the opportunity to build a career in filmmaking. While building a cast and crew, filmmakers are encouraged to reach beyond their friend network and tap into on-campus talent – to reflect the diversity of movie audiences both onscreen and behind the camera. The program works with 52 partnered schools including some of the most well-known film programs and some of the most underrepresented.
“When finalists submit their scripts, we coach them on developing characters that embrace diverse points of view and avoid outdated stereotypes,” said Aviva Kleiner, producer, Coca‑Cola Refreshing Films Program. “And, as of 2022, we are collecting diversity data on everything from casting to catering to track ourselves and help the industry benchmark. These students are at the forefront of change and are excited to be a part of this effort.”
For many schools, the competition has become a film program requirement. Others have embraced the chance to expose students to the art of branded content.
“Film students often come to school wanting to be the next Steven Spielberg or Coppola and are not thinking about making commercials,” Kleiner said. “But the worlds of commercial and feature filmmaking are now blended. And in today’s content-driven society, the demand and stakes for content is much higher. Our program fills a void for students by showing them what it's like to work with a brand like Coca‑Cola.”