Young filmmakers learn pitching tips at Cannes

22nd May 2008, Comments 0 comments

The young movie-makers learn the art of selling a movie to potential investors in a matter of minutes at a Cannes workshop.

22 May 2008

CANNES - Looking for a million dollars to finance your "political horror film"? A Cannes workshop on the art of pitching will show you how.

Organised as part of the Short Film Corner at the world's biggest cinema showcase, a dozen young movie-makers are invited to pick up tips in selling a project to potential investors in a matter of minutes.

The 30-somethings from around the world take notes from veterans such as Ido Abram, who heads up a training institute in Amsterdam.

"The most important thing at a festival is to make yourself heard," Abram says. "So speak up."

The group around the table begins brainstorming and puts forward an idea to test out at the workshop: a director who has made a short film set on a boat in Greece under the military junta wants turn it into a feature-length picture. But money is an object.

"The screenplay is written, you've got a boat, you've got the actors including the lead and the musicians too because the soundtrack to a horror film is so important," says Alexis Ioannou, a young filmmaker from Cyprus.

"The only thing missing is the money: one million dollars."

The film features an American couple and their 17-year-old daughter on a holiday cruise in Greece in 1974. One morning the girl wakes up to find the other passengers have been brutally murdered.

Abram says the storyline is promising but that a filmmaker needs something more to make him stand out from the crowds of wheeler-dealers at Cannes.

As other pupils begin to introduce their own projects, Abram calls their attention to the common pitfalls of pitching.

"I'm working with a great cinematographer," says one.

"Does that mean the rest of the team is bad?" Abram retorts. He scolds another protege for failing to look him in the eye when he makes his presentation.

American Christopher Frascino said he had already picked up some valuable advice.

"I've taken other courses in pitching where it only revolved around the storyline and trying to make the pitch as short as possible," he said. "But body language is key."

Frascino is at Cannes shopping his short thriller "Hardwood". He met a potential backer at one of the glittering parties on the fringes of the festival "where a lot of conversations get started".

"I started off the night at a bar at the Majestic," one of the palm-lined Croisette's plushest hotels, his compatriot Christopher Morrison chimed in.

Morrison is looking to expand his short called "... less than kind".

Others are trying their luck in the maze of stands at the festival's sprawling film market.

"We have already met with 15 or 20 companies," said young Australian producer Darian Szyszka, at Cannes with his first short, "Ring-around-a-Rosie".

"It's everyone's dream just to be here," his director, Larelle Bossi, says.

But if their Cannes dreams fail to come true and they fail to find a backer, Szyszka said the team was ready to take its now-improved show on the road to another 30 festivals this year until they strike a deal.

[AFP / Expatica]

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