As you often only have approximately seven minutes to pitch (particularly in a formal forum format such as IDFA Forum or at HotDocs in Toronto), you don’t have time to talk about all the different elements of your film and how they fit together in a compelling narrative. Instead, you have to find the ‘essence’ of your film and present that. The popular Pitch and Trailer Workshop at IDFA 2015 explained how.
When pitching a TV show or independent documentary it is now almost impossible to get away without having to make a pitch tape of some sort (sometimes several over the course of your production). You can write pages of your directorial vision, storylines, subplots and mission to change the world, but nothing takes the buyer straight to the heart of your film like a well shot pitch tape (also known as a teaser, sizzle, pilot or sample, depending on where you are in the world and the context in which you are pitching). But what makes a pitch tape effective?
If you are planning to pitch your documentary to funders you’ll no doubt spend much time on displacement activities such as dusting and doing the washing up rather than knuckling down and actually preparing your pitch. Nobody likes pitching; it’s an uncomfortable, exposing and potentially embarrassing experience – especially if you are unfortunate to be pitching your project at one of the big forums such as Hot Docs in Toronto or IDFA in Amsterdam. Never been to a forum before? Scroll down to see what that actually looks like (and weep). But if you are going to get your film financed you’ll have to pitch it at some point, there’s no getting out of it so you may as well get used to it.
At IDFA 2013, Danish producer Sigrid Dyekjær came to the rescue with her inspiring pitching tips in a session called The Future of the Art of Pitching. Sigrid Dyekjær is the founder/co-owner of Danish Documentary Production and was due to pitch some of the projects she used as case studies at the IDFA Forum later in the festival. (Photo (C) TVMole)
The three key elements of your pitch are the paper proposal, the trailer and the verbal pitch. In this panel, which took place at Sheffield Doc/Fest’s DFG Day in 2011 three experts talk about how to hone your pitch materials: Andrea Paterson, Development Producer, Fresh One describes an effective written proposal. Fernanda Rossi, Documentary and […]
One of the most popular panels at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012 was the Taster Tape session run by the BBC Academy. This is probably not surprising given that a few years ago a taster tape was the exception rather than the rule; today it seems that position is reversed and that every pitch is expected to […]
Director/Producer Lindsey Dryden is a documentary filmmaker who has worked on documentaries for broadcasters such as the BBC, Channel 4 and Current TV, but when she started making her first feature documentary she had to learn a whole new set of skills – not only to make the film, but also to find the funding. […]
Think you need to spend a load of cash making that pitch tape? Think again. This short film was made, edited and scored using an iPhone:
As you set about making yet another pitch tape destined to gather dust on some commissioning editor’s shelf, take a look at the lengths the US networks go to in order to pitch their upcoming shows to their advertisers at a ritual known as the “Upfront”. At these annual events, the networks invite all their […]
There are some simple principles to successfully developing and pitching your ideas, whether you are working for a global ‘super-indie’ production company, or are a documentary filmmaker pitching a passion project. The extraordinary thing is that no one will tell you what they are! Greenlit is the first book to reveal, step-by-step, how to originate, develop and pitch your factual/non-scripted TV ideas in a global market.
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If you can’t film a pitch tape (trailer, sizzle, mood tape, whatever you want to call it) for some reason – perhaps it’s too expensive because your location is too remote, or you need to build a complicated set – you could try visualizing it for your commissioner with a storyboard. Filmmaker Doug Lentz has […]