July 7, 2013

Fast Track Your Feature Documentary Toward Funding by Pitching It at Points North Pitch

For all the producers who ever wished that a common application existed for documentary film grants, pitching forums might be as close as we're gonna get to efficiency in the fundraising process. It's like an elevator pitch in the best possible elevator a documentarian could hope to get stuck in. There's only room for 6 pitches at Camden International Film Festival's Points North Pitch this coming September, but those selected will have a captive audience of representatives from the likes of HBO, ITVS, Participant Media, and ARTE.  Details after the jump.

In my humble opinion, pitching forums are the fast track to documentary funding and co-production agreements. Grants are great when they come through, but nothing beats face-to-face contact. It took 3 years of plowing away at my first feature documentary before I realized that I should have spent year one fundraising at pitching forums and doc markets.

Compared with redundant grant applications, pitching forums aren't a bad deal. Instead of rewriting your synopsis for the 40th time to fit yet another arbitrary application word count, you pitch your project once in front of commissioning editors and funders. Instead of waiting half a year to get that letter of response, you get immediate feedback and the opportunity to schedule same-day meetings with key broadcasters and producers.

The Points North Documentary Forum will accompany the Camden International Film Festival on September 27th & 28th 2013, featuring "hands-on workshops, panel discussions, one-on-one mentorships, pitch sessions, networking events and master classes that help independent documentary filmmakers advance their projects in concrete, meaningful ways." Check out last year's program for an idea of the action.

On Saturday the 28th, 6 lucky filmmakers will pitch their projects to an "international delegation" of broadcasters and producers, to compete for the Points North Pitch Award:

One film will be selected for the Points North Pitch Award, which includes a $1000 cash prize from Documentary Educational Resources and 60 hours of sound mix or color correction services from Modulus Studios worth approximately $10,000. A second prize will be given to the best New England-based project, which will include a $3000 tuition scholarship to the Maine Media Workshops and three consultations with the Tribeca Film Institute.

The submission fee is $25 and the online application is fairly short and straightforward. The deadline for submission is August 9, 2013 at 11:59pm EST. Those thinking of submitting should check out past years' Point North winners, including In Country by Mike Attie and Meghan O'Hara, Mosquito by Jesse Epstein and Hannah Rosenzweig, and Betting the Farm by Jason Mann and Cecily Pingree.

https://vimeo.com/64040861

https://vimeo.com/41434305

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESLaLRLIFh4

Selected filmmakers get 2 VIP passes to the Camden International Film Festival, three nights of accommodations, a private pitch training session and a travel stipend. Applications for feature-length documentaries are due in 1 month, so get on it already.

Who's had success at documentary pitching forums? What would you recommend for those making pitches for the first time?

Link: Points North Documentary Film Forum -- Camden International Film Festival

Your Comment

5 Comments

I love all the recent news about funding/grants for indie doc work. There are so many great stories to be told out there, and the big production companies, big name filmmakers, and distributers simply can't access all of them. I'm just starting my campaign for what I truly feel will be one of the great and entertaining documentaries recently. You can watch the first teaser below. There are other teasers as well, and within a day or two, a new trailer will be released that is the best so far. This feature film is completely zero budget and will cover pit bull weight pulling around the entire of N. America. Hopefully I can travel further, but will see where funding leads to. It's truly a free market in doc filmmaking these days.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-KHWthtEew

July 7, 2013 at 2:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jeremy

This is just like IDFA in NOvember, the only difference being that about seventy indy doccies get to pitch to the same group of people, from ARTE and BBC SToryville to the SCandanavian commissioners, Sundance, NHK JustFilms (Ford FOundation) and many others, all around a table - and you fix meets and things with them after too. Its also like HOTDOCS so not sure why its being announced as a brand new concept? But thanks for sharing, the more we know the better! Heres a link to IDFA - Europes biggest Inde Docu Fest held in Amsterdam . http://www.idfa.nl/industry/forum.aspx

July 11, 2013 at 3:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Definitely not announcing it as a brand new concept (what made you think that?)...But I did try to explain the concept for those who aren't familiar with pitching forums. I am a fan of most doc pitching forums (there are many others throughout Europe but not so many in the U.S.) -- thanks for the link to the almighty IDFA!

July 17, 2013 at 2:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Laura Gamse
Writer
Director/Producer

I can' t think of anything more terrifying. That said, I'm eager to try it. I'll check them out, thanks!

July 11, 2013 at 5:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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The link to the online submission doesn't work. Do you have an updated one? Thanks!

July 29, 2014 at 4:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rebecca