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Pitch Live Finale

Photo by Nathalie Younglai. From top left (The Pitch Jury): Lila Karim, Eileen Arandiga, Nobu Adilman. From bottom left: Keith Lock and Stephanie Law.

On Sunday, November 13th, 2011 @ 11 a.m., the Live Finale of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival’s ‘So You Think You Can Pitch?’ competition took place at The Royal theatre in Toronto.

Pitching their hearts out, my fellow co-finalists deserve a huge round of applause for their passion, talent, and sheer will to tell their stories.  Congrats to Jason Karman, Keith Lock, Chantria Tram, Tricia Collins, and Elaine Poon for putting their hearts on the line… and live onstage!

Each pitch was timed.  Six minutes for the pitch.  Four minutes for questions from the jury.  This year, the Pitch Jury consisted of Lila Karim, Eileen Arandiga, and Nobu Adilman.  Keith Cole was MC.

Everyone did an astounding job, and it was clear to all that this year’s finalists were very strong.  The jury’s final decision was announced later at the NSI Reception at No One Writes to the Colonel.  In the established category, Keith Lock took home the prize for his short film, THE MAGIC CHARM.   In the emerging category, LITTLE MISS JIHAD was selected.

I really wished there were more prizes, funding, and support for all these worthy projects.  And it is my hope that we all make our films, and have them play at next year’s Reel Asian film festival.  I strongly believe that this industry is just too hard not to help each other out.  I want every one of this year’s finalists to succeed.  I’m confident that they will!

Pitch Q&A with Richie Mehta

On Friday morning, the pitch finalists had the amazing opportunity to speak to Richie Mehta, director of AMAL, via skype.  Richie was in India, prepping to shoot his next film, and still found the time to give us advice and answer our pitch questions.  An incredibly successful filmmaker from Mississauga, Ontario, Richie has some incredible experience pitching, having been selected to pitch at the Toronto International Film Festival back in 2005 at Pitch This!  He’s also spent the past year pitching his latest film in India, and so, suffice to say, Richie knows a little something about pitching and telling a story.  Surprisingly, his advice is to not pitch to win, but to pitch the best version of your project and story as possible.  You cannot control what the jury is doing or thinking or feeling on the day of the pitch, and they’ll pick a project that connects to them– it’s out of your control, so just pitch your best story.  As well, sometimes it’s not about all the bells and whistles, especially when it comes to one of these “performance” pitches, but simply… about speaking your story.  Make the audience feel how you want them to feel as if they were watching it.    There is also no one way to pitch– it’s not a rigid structure, but you need to figure out the best way to pitch your project, whether you’re leading with why you’re telling this story, your connection, versus getting right to the story.  All sound advice, and better yet, vetted by a filmmaker who has used these techniques and been incredibly successful.

So there you have it, folks, what it comes down is story, knowing your story, and finding the best way to convey that story.  I would take it ever further, and say that it comes down to heart.  Why is your heart in this story?  How are you going to capture the hearts of the audience?

No easy answers, but a lot of deep searching for every storyteller.  And something that is absolutely necessary to have any hope of making work that matters.

Anyway, thank you to Richie for being so generous with his time!  Incredibly inspirational storyteller, and all around nice guy.  And thank you to Reel Asian for organizing this post pitch-clinic Q&A!

Pitch Clinic

Today, we’re having a pitch clinic with Mr. HGF himself, John Galway.  HGF, of course, standing for The Harold Greenberg Fund– one of the funders you definitely want to get acquainted with, if you ever hope to get development dollars for your feature project in Canada.  But I digress.

For the first time, all of the pitch finalists will get to meet each other!  I am beyond excited to meet my fellow talented filmmakers and artists & to hear each of their stories!  Regardless of the pitch competition, my hope is that we can all help each other out, because this industry is too hard… to not to help each other.  I hope my fellow pitchees (pitchers?) feel the same way!

So we will be convening at Charles Street Video— a place I’ve passed by a few times, but have never gotten a chance to go in and visit– to pitch, pitch, pitch!  I’m looking forward to Mr. Galway’s advice, and just hope I don’t bomb too hard… hahaha. 😉

Should be fun!