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A guide to pitching from the ZIFF Pitching Tree
Nick Broomfield, Louis Massiah, Paul Miller, Heidi Lobato and Barry Braverman sat down with ZIFF's contestants for the practice-run of the Pitching Tree final.
If you want to make your film, here are some tips from the judges to knock out your industry audience.
Practice your pitch on friends, and people in cafes, bars and on the baraza. Bore everyone to death with your pitch and then -when you've nailed it- stand in front of industry players and pitch your idea.
Introduce yourself first so the panel know who you are. You might be working together, names are important.
Keep it simple, keep it shorter. Tell it the way you would tell a friend.
Is your story original? Realise that there have been many many film about massacres, yet the audience can get fatigued from the same story told over again.
Know your audience. What kind of people will watch this movie? Where are they, in your village or the Cannes Film Festival?
Put forth your film's angle,don't bury the angle. What part of the story is the film going to cover? Who's point of view are you covering? The camera reflects the point of view, but this starts with the story.
If you put too much academic info into the pitch, you can't see the movie on screen. Tell your film first, and give background story afterwards (or vice versa).
The most effective and compelling stories are simple stories.
Make a movie poster, it's a distillation of a whole film into one image!
Best pitches the judges have heard were one word. Or three words. Say more with less.
As a documentary filmmaker you have to be prepared to find surprises you don't like, especially about your favourite characters.
Your biggest ace is telling a story from a respectful angle.
Adjust your focus. Get to the big story through the little story in the film.
The audience need to identify with a character in the story. This keeps them watching.
Remember that people are complex, there are no good guys or bad guys, capture complexities and nuances in your story.
There has to be militancy on part of a filmmaker or their character to find the truth. Where is your obsessiveness, you just feel there's no option to fail!
Is there an urgency for you to make it? What's your dramatic premise? Why does it need to be made NOW?
Don't forget the journey: film is all about the journey.