Daisy-May Hudson is a documentary director/producer who was awarded BAFTA’s Breakthrough Brit as well as a BRITDOC/DOC SOCIETY fellow. Having never made a film before, Daisy’s journey into the industry is an unconventional one, when she began filming her experience of being homeless with her family as a coping mechanism. After being re-housed she turned the footage into a feature documentary “Half Way” (2016) which has received critical acclaim, an extended cinema run, and has recently been nominated for the Grierson award for Best Cinema Documentary as well as best documentary at the British Independent Film Awards.
1. Do be prepared. Practice, practice, practice, so you know your film inside out and back to front and then work out how to pitch it in five minutes only. Make sure you have punchy opener that tells the person exactly what the film is in a sentence. Then do pitch drills. Say it over and over again. At dinner, in the toilet, walking to films, say it over and over again. That way, even if you get into the meeting and the commissioner or investor asks so many questions you don’t get chance to say everything you’d want to, at least you know the key points you have to hit.
People listen carefully when they understand why they should be listening to you at all in the first place.
2. Don’t be modest. Be #humble, but definitely don’t be modest. If you’ve been nominated for awards, or you’ve been part of a prestigious scheme or you were the first journalist to blow a story or you’ve got Leonardo Dicaprio down as an exec producer or you’re being mentored by Ava DuVernay, then tell them up front. People listen carefully when they understand why they should be listening to you at all in the first place. First you’ve got to sell yourself, then the idea.
3. Do have a shorter pitch ready. One that you can fire eloquently at someone as you both go to the bar for a glass of wine. You might only have a few minutes to grab their attention before a much needed bucket of pinot noir comes their way and you need to get their attention long enough to make a meeting for the following day. Some of the best and most genuine relationships are made outside of a business environment and you’re not going to have time to frantically load up your powerpoint presentation every time you come across someone.
Do remember that commissioners and funders are human beings too.
4. Don’t be hungover. You need to be full of energy, engaging, articulate and alert. You have to be ready to answer any quick fire questions they may have. Go easy on the shandys because they dehydrate you and slow down the messages from brain to mouth. If you have a big day of pitching, watch a late film and then go to sleep. Even if there are free drinks.
5. Do remember that commissioners and funders are human beings too. Actually once the first one’s out the way and you get into the swing of things, it feels much more like a chat. They’re probably feeling as equally overwhelmed, hungry, and nervously excited as you so remember to relax, and do what you do best which is talk about the film.
6. Don’t pitch like they already know what you’re talking about or know who you are. Chances are they’ve met a zillion people already today so pitch as if they know completely nothing about you or the film. Probably when you’re down the line into production, it’s hard to go back and start at the beginning. But remember commissioners/funders/sales etc. are completely blind and you have to really tell them the story of the film from the very beginning.
7. Do pick your moment carefully. Be respectful of people’s time and space if you’re bold enough to pitch to them in their downtime. Use your intuition to get what you’re after, without getting a name for yourself of having no social awareness. If it looks like they’re catching up with their friends, had a bad day, or trying to tie their lace, now’s not a good time.
People see thousands of faces throughout the week, so message them while you’re fresh in their memory.
8. Do have visual aids to show at the pitch – they’re immediately engaging.
9. Don’t get drunk at the parties. There are fun nights out at Sheffield Doc Fest - official and unofficial- so don’t quaff the wine and find someone you met with earlier, and shout at them for not giving you the money. Nope.
10. Do be persistent. Make follow up immediately and arrange your next meeting. It’s highly unlikely the commissioner is going to drop fifty bags on the table and off you pop to make your film, even if they do really like you. These things take time, it’s all about building a trusting relationship with people you like. So if you got on really well with people, make sure to follow up the meeting the moment you get home. People see thousands of faces throughout the week, so message them while you’re fresh in their memory.