Thanks for all the good wishes for my session at Channel 4 this evening, it went really, really well.
The event itself is run annually by Stellar Network and is called Pitch Up (or Pitch Up 2008 as it was). People essentially submit their pitches to Stellar then the top 20 are chosen to be pitched to industry execs who have experience in all the various fields, from drama to factual to entertainment and all the cross-breeds in between. Usually you have to pay for your pitching space if you are selected, but I managed to win myself a spot in a mini-competition, which was pretty much the only way I was going to get there. Being the kind of cash-strapped, early-career filmmaker that I am, the train fare to London was enough to dent my pockets, so paying for the priviledge of being there would have probably been beyond my means.
At the Channel 4 building on Horseferry Road we all arrived and mingled in their little sub-street amphitheatre space (very media-stylee), some people chatting others standing around feeling like a bit of a tit. No prizes for guessing my catagory.
Then we were all ushered into a screening room at the back of the atrium-thing and sat down to begin the round of pitches.
It was really interested to sit through as so many people didn’t obey the rules of a 30-60 second pitch and still more seemed like they hadn’t really prepared anything or thought about what they were going to say. We all know I’m not big on planning, but even I had worked out how much I could shoe-horn in to 30 seconds of pitch, which was essentially this:
“For 25 years I lived with a degenerative lung condition called Cystic Fibrosis, which meant I was never able to do all the things I wanted to do. 11 months after a double-lung transplant, I now want to see what I’ve been missing. How Hard Can It Be? is a documentary following a 26-year-old transplant recipient trying to see how hard it is to play a variety of sports to a competetive or even professional level.”
The feedback I got was really positive. One of the panel thought it was a great idea, but suggested I think about involving more stories from the transplant community, mentoring them through the transplant process and then accompanying them on their challenge of a lifetime. I guess it makes it a little more Ben Fogel and less “all about me” – plus, the more transplant stories there are involved, the more emotive the show will be.
Eventually, when all 20 pitchers had done and got their feedback, we were sent out for a resess and informed that prizes would be given out to the best pitch and two runners up.
I counted at least three pitches that were better than mine and that got more positive feedback, but to my surprise when we went back in, I got one of the runner-up goodie bags. Considering that one of the criteria for their judgement was whether or not they would feel confident taking the idea and pitching it to the network, I was quietly pretty impressed.
I took a moment after the session ended to talk to the member of the panel who gave me feedback. It’s all very well being given a goodie bag and all, but I wanted to know if they thought it was genuinely a viable idea, or if they just had to pick a few “winners” to give out bags to. I wanted to know if it’s worth me pursuing futher.
To my surprise (having prepared myself for a straight “No”), she told me that she thought it was worth sticking with – if I made the changes that she’d suggested and wrote up a six-episode outline, she thinks it’s worth going for.