Saturday, May 23, 2009
Beth Murphy reports from The Good Pitch roundtable.
The Good Pitch opened its doors in North America for the first time this month at Hot Docs. Chicken & Egg were delighted to be invited to participate and had the good fortune of witnessing the amazing legs this forum gave Chicken & Egg grantee Beth Murphy for her project, The Promise of Freedom. Here, Beth shares her experience from this amazing day. Thanks to all at BRITDOC for such a worthwhile experience - deadline this week - get in your applications now! http://britdoc.org/real_good/pitch/
What a thrill to be part of the very first North American Good Pitch at TDF! It was electric when the “regular” pitches were finished, and the pitching table was resized and topped with a periwinkle blue cover as Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” pumped through the speakers. “It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day…” co-producer Sean Flynn and I hummed quietly as commissioning editors made their way to the table – this time joined by human rights organizations, foundations and NGOs. If there was ever any question about the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation claim that THIS is the future of documentary filmmaking, those doubts were laid to rest as Julie leBrocquy and Nic Dunlop began their moving pitch for Burma Soldier.
Knowing that everyone else around the table chose to be there gave me an incredible feeling of camaraderie: We all want the same thing, I thought. We all recognize that it’s harder than ever to make documentary films, but we are committed to what we do and what we want to achieve… it sounds lofty, but we still believe it’s possible to harness the power of human rights storytelling to create change. It echoes something Cara Mertes (Sundance Institute) wrote a while back for the International Documentary Association: Increasingly, documentaries are fulfilling two great mandates. They are embedding the possibility of action in their storytelling, and they are filling some of the void left by the dying art of journalism as we have known it through our major media. This confluence is making contemporary documentary the seminal storytelling form of the 21st century.
Of the five “good pitches” ours came third, and as we made our way to the table, we felt confident that the Working Films training offered by Judith Helfand and Robert West over the past two days had prepared us well. We took their recommendation to show two short video clips from The Promise of Freedom (rather than one longer one), and were stunned by what happened next: Julie Parker Benello (Chicken & Egg Pictures) announced production and outreach support--the first and only on-the-spot funding at TDF’s pitch table!, Ryan Harrington (Gucci Tribeca Fund/IndiePix) guaranteed distribution, Jan Rotekampf (Films Transit—our number one choice for international sales) was confident he’d be able to attract pre-sales and co-productions, and two human rights organizations signed on for our outreach campaign.
It was a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day! Sean and I are still beaming from the experience! We just wish Kevin Belli, our amazing DP and editor, could have been in Toronto to celebrate with us, and that all of our projects could benefit from this simultaneous exposure to commissioning editors and the third sector. I’m sure it’s wishful thinking, but I’d love a second Good Pitch experience at IFP with Zabuli, our new film about girls’ education in Afghanistan.
For more information on The Promise of Freedom click here.