Nuts, bolts, hot tips, and road-tested information from Holly Million for indie filmmakers raising money

Pitch Perfect — Look for Opportunities to Pitch Your Film to Funders and Distributors

If you’re going to fund your film, distribute your film, or — “Please, Film Gods, hear my prayer!” — SELL your film, you need to be able to pitch. I used to teach a class at Film Arts Foundation and later at the San Francisco Film Society on how to pitch. I guided the participants through an intensive process in which they learned how to answer ten key questions about their film in a concise, compelling fashion. Then I had them partner up and practice pitching to each other. Last, I had a panel of three experts assemble at the end of the class, and each participant pitched to them, receiving tips and feedback at the end. I felt pretty pumped by the end of every class, because I could see such improvement in each person’s ability to articulate what he or she was aiming to create and bring into the world for the greater good of humanity. And at the end of every class, I suggested that the filmmakers go home and continue practicing in front of the mirror. By watching their physical mannerisms, adjusting their body language, polishing their delivery, they could get more and more in their element during future pitches. Once you have your message crafted and you have been practicing along and with trust friends, you need to look for opportunities in the real world to test your skills. One great place to pitch is at major film festivals. The Sundance Film Festival, for example, routinely hosts pitch sessions where you can sign up to sit at a round table with ten other hopefuls to actually pitch to a real flesh-and-blood funder or distributor. At the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, for example, I pitched It Came From Kuchar, a documentary by Jennifer Kroot that I had produced, to Lynne Kirby, SVP of Original Pogramming for the Sundance Channel. I thought I was going to pass out, because it was the first time I attempted to pitch that film in a public setting. Fortunately, Lynne knew of and loved the Kuchar Brothers, whom the film was about, so the pitch went as smooth as silk, and she asked me to follow up by sending her more information on the project. There were about 12 other distributors and funders in that same room — from PBS, the Ford Foundation, Discovery, ITVS, the Travel Channel, A&E, etc. etc. All I had to do to get access was to put my name on a clipboard before the meeting. You need to develop relationships with funders and distributors early, long before it’s time to fund or distribute your film. Don’t have the means to get to Sundance or another big festival? Look for pitch opportunities locally. For example, the Center for Asian American Media hosted its Ready, Set, Pitch! event in San Francisco on March 11. About five filmmakers were selected from applicants and got the chance pitch to a panel before a live audience, vying for $5,000 in funding. Search “Pitch” and “Film” on Google and see what comes up. You need to speak, pitch, and score for your film, too. — In fundraising solidarity, Holly Million

About the author

Have a project you want someone to manage? Have a job that needs to be done professionally, on time, and under budget? That is what I do. I am “The Super Producer.” I take ideas and make them real. My services support fundraising, films, events, publications, and organizations. I assess the situation, prepare the plan, design the fundraising, hire the team, administer the budget, manage the timeline, and guide the project to successful completion. Put me in charge of your project. – See more at: http://hollymillion.com

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