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.
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?