Quick Tip: When Pitching a Film to Funders, Tell Your Personal Story

Posted by on Monday August 27, 2018 | Business

Each September, the Points North Institute gives six filmmakers intensive training in how to formulate an effective pitch. Then they have to pitch their film projects to a panel of 12 broadcasters, producers and film festival programmers in front of a live audience. ©Points North Institute

A big challenge for documentary filmmakers is raising money to fund their projects. The key is developing an effective funding pitch, says Sean Flynn, program director at Points North Institute. The institute provides intensive training on how to pitch film projects, and holds a forum to give filmmakers a chance to practice their pitches on distributors and film festival programmers. Flynn explained the program and offered his pitching advice in our story called “Tips for Pitching Your Films Successfully.” Here’s an excerpt:

“Many of the filmmakers and artists we work with are extraordinarily talented in their own creative process, but when it comes to promoting themselves or pitching their own work, it can be a stumbling block. …A lot of it is about “positioning.” That’s a marketing word, but funders, broadcasters, programmers, or anybody who is exposed every year to hundreds of projects—they have to find the ones that cut through the noise and will resonate with their audiences.

“There are different strategies, but the main idea is finding what makes your work distinct from everything else out there. You might be doing a story about immigrant rights. There have been hundreds of stories dealing with similar issues, but you might have incredible access, a particular twist, or some visual conceit that will make it different from the typical documentary on immigration. What is the filmmaker’s voice and what’s their artistic approach? That’s something that filmmakers struggle to bring to the surface in a pitch.

“One thing I say is that when you’re pitching a project, make sure you’re telling your own story. It’s important for people investing in your project to know how you came to this project, why you’re the right person to tell this story, and to make them want to be part of your story.

“It always comes back to the audience. In this world of unlimited media channels, what’s going to make me pause and pay attention to the story you’re telling? Having a deeply personal connection to the story is a great place to start.”

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woman with parachute by James Farrell

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