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Pitching Top Tips – by Tue Steen Müller

Resources_Prod_125 - Pitching - Tue Steen MullerTue Steen Müller is a Danish documentary consultant and is the former head of the European Documentary Network. With the Danish Film Board he worked for over 20 years with short and documentary film and frequently lectures on documentary filmmmaking and pitching films. Here he gives his top pitching tips.

Combine the three elements
The pitch must have three elements:

  • The Verbal – When you’re talking, if at all possible, try to visualise with your words. It doesn’t matter if you’re nervous, that’s only human. I’ve said before that women are generally better than men at pitching, but they’re also generally more nervous.
  • The Written – Two pages, maximum. With the logline, synopsis and the visual approach. If it’s a complicated subject you can include some background. Then the more factual side of things: the CV, the overall budget, the financing plan, delivery time, and, of course, though it sounds banal – contact details. People often forget that. Also, how long the film is.
  • The Visual – Raw footage is fine. It is meant to create an appetite. There shouldn’t be too much information, but it should create an atmosphere and present the character. There is no excuse, if what you’re doing is character-based, not to have the character.

Pitch the project at the right moment
Develop your project to the point where it is no longer an idea, it is a film proposal. Many people pitch far too early.

In order to convey how extremely important this project is to you, you have to be passionate. Don’t be intellectual. Keep it very simple and remember that it’s a communication.

Divide the roles
It can be difficult to say to the panel: ‘I’m great.’ If you share the pitch with your producer or director you can have somebody next to you to stressing your good qualities.

Be yourself
Remember that you’re not only pitching a project, you’re pitching yourself. Don’t act and never, never lie, it’s so obvious if you do.

The taster
Have a good taster. It’s absolutely essential. This can contain raw footage, but it should be at least a reflection of the finished product.

Talk positive
When you’re pitching, don’t describe your film in terms of what it isn’t, e.g. ‘This is not going to be a journalistic film.’ Never excuse and never be negative. You have to find a way to positively describe what your film will be.

This article first appeared in Issue 125 of Film Ireland Magazine.