Pitching… Some Thoughts After Baltic Sea Docs

Pitching … has come to stay. Many say that there are too many pitching sessions. And there are many! There should be less is a sentence ofte heard. But more and more are organised. Also on a national basis, where film funds and institutes invite filmmakers to present their ideas in a public forum. Before decisions on funding are being made.

I write this after the 23rd session of the Baltic Sea Docs… A succesful one, I think, I am biased as I am a proud part of a team and has been that from the beginning. Part of the furniture, some will say.

As one who has attended, I guess, almost a hundred of pitching sessions, I also sometimes feel a fatigue but always end up, like in Riga,  having a positive reaction: GOOD. When an old cat like me, who experienced the first big IDFA Forum in Amsterdam and have been responsible for the set up of sessions all over, during my time at the EDN and elsewhere: the moment when I see filmmakers express passion and ambition, I am hooked. They agree to try to present their project within the internationalised time standard of public pitching – 7 minutes for the presenter/the filmmaker(s) with the same time for the reactions from broadcasters, sales agents and distributors.

That’s how it was in Riga last friday and saturday with a panel of 19 men and women to respond, coming from quite different parts of the world. From Tokyo and Qatar, from Helsinki and London, from Vilnius and Amsterdam. Some of the people at the table had experience, some were there for the first time. Some were able to express their opinion within the limited time, ask questions, give advice – others had problems in doing so. That’s how it is.

Pitching: Of course it is absurd – how can you present a film project, that you have worked on for many months or even years, in 7 minutes! Therefore the pitches are normally followed by individual meetings, where more deep conversations can take place. And I think that everyone will agree, that no financing come up immediately after the pitch has been made. It is a dialogue that you start between the filmmakers and their eventual funders. Where you expect respect from both sides – the funders towards the filmmakers and  vice versa.

Except for one or two all 24 film projects, that were on stage in Riga at the Baltic Sea Docs, had attended a couple of days of discussion with colleagues and trainers to be ready to do their presentations. During these days trailers and teasers had been worked on. To follow the words from (in most cases) director and producer. For many of the projects from this Eastern European pitch session, the filmmakers had been at other workshops, for instance at the B2B (https://www.b2bdoc.se/news) or at festivals like Cinédoc (http://www.cinedoc-tbilisi.com/) and DocuDays UA (http://docudays.ua/eng/). And several will for sure bring their “babies” to other events. It’s about creating interest, finding partners, networking. The colleagual atmosphere at events like the one in Riga is wonderful to experience. Thank you filmmakers, broadcasters and sales agents for this approach.

http://balticseadocs.lv   

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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