The reason I got to go to Hot Docs in the first place was to pitch in the Hot Docs Forum.
Basil Tsiokos summed up the event better than I could for IndieWire (including a very flattering pre-review of LET THE FIRE BURN – Thank You Basil, glad I got a chance to meet you on our way out of town).
A few thoughts on the pitching at the Forum:
1. It is a pretty intense environment. This is really the big stage. I had to follow a pitch of a filmmaker who covered a subject for 12 years, and the producer of BEING ELMO, pitching a project that has already won best pitch awards. Intimated much?
2. It is SO important to have an experienced team. I could not have navigated this event nearly so well without backing from my EP Andrew Herwitz and Sundance representative Rahdi Taylor. Having Sundance on your side does not suck at all, especially if you are pitching a non-traditional approach.
3. I decided to go a little outside the box with my pitch, by standing up (no one else did this) and by addressing the audience directly and asking for a response. I felt that if these things were effective, I would stand out, but that they could also fall flat, or (worse) I could come off as arrogant. In the end, I was very pleased with how it worked out. More than a dozen people came up to me and commented just that I stood up. Really? Such a small thing makes such a big difference? Yes!
4. All this stuff adds up. Regardless of the details, there is something about just being in the room consistently with this small community. Regardless of who you talk to or what the results are, it is important to get your name and work out there and do it consistently.
It was a pretty big thrill to step onto the big stage and I’m pleased that the project is being so well-received.