Twenty groups came with the hope of securing co-production partnerships here in North America and in Europe. As always,what I like to do each year is pick five standouts from the crowd. They could be standouts for any number of reasons, but however they made an impression these five selections made the grade. There were other projects that would make some kind of honorable mention list as well but we will stick with the big five.
What everyone is looking for are the three fundamentals; financing, co-production and sales. The budgets requests were more reasonable this year. Nothing nearing double digits, the budgets were set mostly around the 1 to 2 million mark, if all our currencies were on par. But no outrageous amounts this year that made the room collectively suck air through their teeth.
This year’s pitch sessions were dedicated to the memory of George A. Romero and the team behind George A. Romero’s Road of the Dead, director/writer/producer Matt Birman and producer Matt Manjourides, were granted the opening spot to present their project.
As always, there are lessons to be learned and things to be said about this year’s selections. Anyone can earn points for presentation but communicating your ideas is key. Coming prepared, well rehearsed and confident helps. There always seems to be the one poor soul who gets stuck each year making the presentation because the key person was delayed, held back or hospitalized before coming over to Montreal. We salute you, lone producer.
The real trick is getting those people to talk to you in the sit-downs that will happen the rest of the weekend. Like Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank or whatever those type of shows are called these days, no one is going to invest their time or money in you if you don’t have something they want. Maybe you do but if your enthusiasm for your project is not contagious? Well then.
Are we past the point where mood reels work? Demo reels I understand, you have previous work you can show off but mood reels tell your audience that you are a pretty nifty editor. I know one filmmaker in this year’s lineup has three POC/Short films out there right now for three projects they would like to see get made. Three. They wanted to show what they can do, not what they can do that someone else has already done. So they went out and they did it. Three times. Maybe I’m just being ignorant to the process but if you are going to market yourself you have to be ready to show what you can do, limitations and all. Are we not at the Steve Austin age of filmmaking by now? We have the technology, we can film it? Cameras on our phones and a plethora of filmmaking related software programs on our computers.
Rant over, I present to you five pitches that stood out for one reason of another from this year’s Pitch Sessions back on Thursday.
The Home - I said before that I will run close to being biased here because Screen Anarchy and I have been following L Gustavo Cooper’s project The Home for over a year now. Cooper has been working on the horror flick about unwed mothers in a group home where strange murder elevate the situation for a while now. It was around this time last year that he had begun sharing a proof of concept with his friends and some of us said, “Slap some credits on that and get it out there”. That Fall, Cooper and his writer Peter Cilella made their first pitch at a co-pro market in Austin. This past Winter Shudder began streaming that short on their service.
This Summer The Home came to Montreal with Glass Eye Pix’s Peter Phok and Alix Taylor (The Hills Have Eyes and In A Valley of Violence) backing up the gents with their production clout. The presentation was solid. Peter and Alix pledged their support for the lads. Cillela gave a quick run down of the synopsis and Cooper shared his personal attachment to his project then we watched a concise version of his proof of concept.
There is just a lot to like about The Home. The main characters will be mostly female. There will be a creature feature element to it. I know for a fact that Cooper has drawn inspiration from one of the great sci-fi action films when he was building the relationship dynamic between some of the characters. The story itself came out of real life events that have been noted on in previous articles related to the short and this project.
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