SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: Any filmmaker will tell you that pitching your film idea is the most difficult part of the filmmaking process. There are countless seminars held regularly which are designed specifically to teach producers how to give the perfect pitch. According to producer, director and film tutor Stefano Tealdi, there is no steadfast formula when it comes to pitching as every film idea is unique, every individual is unique and therefore every pitch is unique.
Tealdi, who knows firsthand just how difficult it is to render a successful pitch, shared his own pitching ideas and experiences at a masterclass he presented, as part of the Durban FilmMart (DFM) 2015 – taking place from 17 to 20 July at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban – titled ‘Pitching Your Way into the International Film Business’. Having established his production company Stefilm in 1995, where, to date, he develops, produces and directs, documentary features and series, he knows all too well the stress of pitching an idea. Stefilm is based in Italy, which Tealdi jokingly refers to as “the hell of documentaries” due to the fact that Italy’s government does not make provisions for documentary financing. With a passion for documentaries and no financing, Tealdi had to turn to public pitching.
When one talks about an idea it becomes more than an idea, however talking about an idea in public, to potential investors, is an entirely different feat. The key to a great pitch in Tealdi’s opinion is to be yourself. “Pitching is thought to be presenting a project but it is about getting to know the person behind the project rather than the information behind the project,” he said. When referring to the initial pitch, Tealdi said it’s all about making the listener want to know more. It’s important to remember that first impressions are everything he said, don’t say too much, play your best cards, keep it short.”
Tealdi went on to share what in his opinion are the most important aspects to consider when planning your pitch:
Know your project inside out. “Failure to prepare is the preparation of failure,” said Tealdi.
Protect the project
Public speaking is stressful in any event, Tealdi advised that before endeavoring to pitch your idea, you are familiar with all aspects of the project from the storyline, to the content, to the film’s target market.
“Pitching is about individuality and authenticity,” said Tealdi. He cautioned against ‘acting’ or ‘performing’ and said that equally as important as knowing the project inside out, is to know yourself.
Make them see it
It is crucial that your listeners are able to visualise the film come to life on screen. Tealdi said that in order to achieve this, it is essential to give concrete examples of characters and even specific scenes.
Unique Selling Point (USP)
In order to stand out, your pitch needs to be memorable. Ask yourself, why did I choose this project? Use your answer to sell your pitch.
Problems in pitching usually stem from saying too much. Only the most important information should be included in your pitch.
“A pitch is like telling a short story,” said Tealdi, and like any story, it needs a good beginning, middle and end.
Keep It Simple and Straightforward.
Tealdi concluded by saying that the best tip he has to offer is it be yourself, “Don’t be afraid to show passion…you are a professional and so is your listener, they need you just as much as you need them.”