2019 Pitch Panel at the London Independent Film Festival
Film Festival Feature by: Chris Olson
Set amongst the atmospheric and glorious interior of the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel, film fans and filmmakers were treated to a brilliant feature at the 2019 London Independent Film Festival. Six notable figures of the filmmaking community would listen (and critique) movie pitches from six storytellers who wanted feedback on their idea and, equally as important, how they could get it green-lit.
Why do I need to pitch a film?
Largely, because of money. Unless you come from the 1% and can self-finance any whim that comes to fancy, most people need a huge amount of support (money, skills, time, etc) to get their idea from the page to the screen.
Pitching your film to executive producers and studios means you have the chance of getting their backing. Which is, usually, financial as well as technical.
Who do I pitch a film to?
In the case of this LIFF panel, there was an eclectic mix of people across the spectrum. From film festival organisers to sales agents.
Pitching could technically be to anyone who could help you, including members of the filmmaking community or friends and family. Or it could be pitching to a studio or distribution company.
What should I say in my pitch?
Well, lessons we learned from the panel were numerous. Pitches should be solid, structured, and largely trying to pique the interest of people who sit and listen to pitches all the livelong day.
Sell your story, giveaway enough to get them hooked, go into depth about the characters and show you have thought out all the angles. It doesn't mean you need to give away the whole plot (they will ask to see the script if they are interested) but you need to reel them in.
What questions will they ask me after my pitch?
This varies depending on who you are taking to but the best advice is to have an answer ready for any question they might throw. Similar to a job interview, you need to be prepared for the interview to have a very special set of criteria they are looking for. That being said, there were some fundamental questions to which everyone should have an answer at the ready.
These are some of them:
“Who is your story for?”
“What's your budget?”
“How are you going to market the film?”
“Who do you already have on board?”
“What would make me pay £12?”
“What certificate would it need?”
Do I need to be original?
Again, this will depend on an individual case, but one of the pieces of feedback which ??? gave was to at least set the atmosphere of your movie by mentioning an example. E.g. if your story is a Scandinavian noir, probably best to mention The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Otherwise it can be hard to get the listener where you need them to hear the rest of your pitch.
One pitch had a great idea which she stated was a psychological thriller but without a reference point one of the panel thought she was aiming for a Bridget Jones type piece!
What should I avoid putting in my pitch?
Clichés. Don’t rock up and start pitching an idea for this movie about a girl who likes this guy but he’s married to her best friend. It’s gonna end in tears...your tears. Instead, pick out the aspect(s) of your idea/story that will stand out from the crowd.
Avoid being uncertain or embarrassed about any of your idea. They are going to want to feel your confidence in what you are saying.
Also avoid topics that might be likely to turn investors off. You would need to present them in a marketing-friendly manner, because at the end of the day they are looking for a return on their investment.