Pitchin'

So, uh, I kinda have two ideas for documentaries that I think are pretty neat and, uh, I'd really like to find a way to make those documentaries this year.

We'll have lots of people in town for the SJIWFF Industry Film Forum ready and willing to receive pitches -- like Denise Wilson, from the CBC; Margot Daley from CORUS Original Programming – Lifestyle, Reality & Factual Entertainment; and Nancy Franklin from Shaw Media – Lifestyle Original Content, to name a few.

So, maybe I'll sign up?

Ahem.

Cough.

As you likely know, Elsa Morena is a kickass filmmaker and real-deal industry professional. She'll be pitching two TV show ideas during the SJIWFF Film Forum's One-on-One Pitch Sessions. And according to her, I have to be more assertive about my ideas if I want them to go anywhere.

"You've got to just suck it up," she says. "If you want to get yourself out there and get yourself known, you better be ready to get out there and pitch it. And you’ve got to have thick skin."

Here's what else she had to say about the art (and fear) of pitching.

So, what are you going to be pitching? I’m pitching two things. One of the them is a multi-platform teen dramedy. The other is a lifestyle series, called Pimp my Profile, which is about marketing yourself online.

What sort of pitching experience do you have? I’ve done the screenwriter's bootcamp in PEI, and they do one-on-one fifteen minute pitches. I’ve also pitched a feature and I went to the Vancouver Film School, and we had a whole class on pitching. They teach you how to do the elevator pitch where you learn how to pitch for your entire feature in that thirty seconds you have to walk down the hallway to the elevator with someone.

What should someone pitching have with them? Props? Cash bribes? Cucumber sandwiches? What I would bring is a one-pager for both series. For the teenage dramedy series, I have a series bible already made out, with all of the information about who the stars are, what the locations are, and some sample story lines.

Should you have most of your crew lined up, like who your producer will be, that sort of thing? So far, the team is myself and my writing partner. Ideally I would like to write and produce, but yeah, that all gets worked out.

What's the best thing a pitcher can do for their project? Really know your product, know what it’s going to look like, know your target audience, and be able to answer as many questions as possible. It’s got to be a developed idea, it can't just be an idea.

What advice do you have for inexperienced pitchers? Do this to get yourself out there. For somebody who has never pitched before, just go and do it as an audition, just to practice. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback about how you could improve your pitch. And don't be afraid of rejection. Sometimes it’s not that your idea isn’t great, you just have to know what the other person is looking for and your idea just might not be that thing. If nothing comes from it, don’t feel discouraged.

Also, practice pitching in front of someone else. Ask them if they understood everything clearly, if it was engaging, if it was it interesting, if you were rambling on too quickly, anything you can think of.

What are you hoping to get out of the pitching session, other than a deal? If anything? Just the experience, being able to practice pitching my story, pitching my product. I guess sometimes you just need to be able to say it out loud and see their reaction, what they're responding to and what they're not.

What's the worst that has ever happened to you during a pitch? I was pitching a feature, and the woman stopped me halfway and said, 'I’m sorry but, we don't do these kind of features,' and it was kind of awkward because I still had some time left over to pitch with her. It's awkward when you go in there and you don’t know what the person is looking for. Make sure you know!

So nobody has, like, chucked a rotten tomato at you or anything? No, I wish! That would definitely lighten up the situation.

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