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Need to Pitch Your Project? Here’s How (Not) to Do it at a Documentary Festival.

At Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2012 Barbara Truyen, Commissioning Editor, VPRO in The Netherlands gave delegates some tips on how best to network and soft pitch your project at the festival without being a nuisance:

  • Study the catalogue and do your homework to identify the people you’d really like to talk to at some point over the course of the festival
  • Remember, that although there are hundreds of buyers at the festival, only a handful will be interested in your kind of film, so target those
  • If you spot a commissioning editor in the cafe, don’t butt into the middle of a conversation – it’s impolite and they might be in the middle of a meeting
  • Festival office hours are between 9am – 6pm – after the cocktail hour commissioning editors are ‘off-duty’ and don’t want to hear pitches
  • The toilets are not a good place to pitch at any time.

She also said that she was looking for films that “make me cry with joy” and cited Searching for Sugar Man by Malik Bendjelloul as a good example. The film went on to win The BankGiro Loterij IDFA Audience Award at IDFA 2012.


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