Here's The Pitch
What's the secret to pitching your documentary idea?
Rebort watched a panel of commissioning editors put five filmmakers through
their paces to learn more.
Film Festival Television Trade Forum
29th September 2002
So youíve got a great idea for a documentary. Now how
do you sell it? This was the premise for a public "pitching" event at
the Vancouver International Film Festivalís annual Film and Television
Trade Forum on Thursday 26th November.
Five documentary makers were given five minutes each to pitch their projects to a panel of three commissioning editors: Nick Jones, Head of Programming for Channel 4 and FilmFour; Richard Klein, Commissioning Editor for BBC General Factual Programmes and Ray McCarthy, Commissioning Editor for Regional Programming for Irelandís RTE.
Although more formal than a real world "pitch" situation where the commissioning editor would typically establish a dialogue with the filmmaker, the format provided welcome insights and some salutary lessons in how to win support for a project.
As was reiterated in not just this seminar, but throughout the events
held at the forum, the idea is the thing. In the case of documentaries
that means strong stories with unique angles, particularly when selling
in foreign markets such as here where Canadian projects were being pitched
to broadcasters from the UK and Ireland.
The projects covered very different subjects: illegal street-racing in
Canada exposed from both the victims' and drivers' point of views; a transgender
athlete struggles for acceptance in the competitive world of female mountain-biking;
a 28-year-old with multiple disabilities strives for independence; Canada's
"Erin Brockovich" fights the evil corporation that is poisoning her town
and has ruined her life; the small nation of Tuvalu whose land is sinking
under rising oceans takes arms against a sea of troubles.
The varied nature of the projects, all one hour or feature-length documentaries,
also threw up a number of issues specific to each particular project.
When the applause had died after each pitch, the panel didn't mince words
in their analysis.
First up - boy racers
and their victims
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