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Why Emerging Filmmakers Should Pitch at the Camden International Film Festival

Why Emerging Filmmakers Should Pitch at the Camden International Film Festival

This past weekend at the Camden International Film Festival, Mike Attie and Meghan O’Hara’s pitch for their Vietnam War reenactor film “In Country,” came out as the Points North Pitch winner. 

The pair’s film was up against seven other projects, including Ben Niles’ “Some Kind of Spark,” which won Indiewire and CIFF’s Project of the Week contest this September

After expanding the Pitch contest to documentary filmmakers from across the U.S. (previously, the Pitch was only open to projects from New England-based filmmakers), Points North Producer Sean Flynn said the number of applicants doubled. Attie, in fact, is from Seattle, and O’Hara is based in San Francisco.

While there are quite a few other pitch contests (Toronto’s Hot Docs Forum hosts a pitch contest; BRITDOC and the Sundance Institute Documentary Program host the roaming issue doc pitch program Good Pitch), Camden’s Points North Pitch Contest may be the perfect place for some emerging filmmakers to first pitch their project on a larger scale.

Here’s why:

A thousand dollars is a thousand dollars. An award is an award.

If costs to travel to Maine can be kept low, winning a thousand dollars is not too bad to spend a weekend.  It’s also good, when looking for funds, to say that a festival or forum honored you as a participant or winner of a pitch.  Money, as they say, begets money.  While the profile of the festival is lower (and therefore the number of projects competing for a spot is lower), up-and-coming filmmakers should take advantage of the perks of having so many industry people around in a small, relaxing town.  Which brings us too…

The caliber of people forced to watch your trailer and listen to you speak is incredible.

This year, at the pitch the twelve panelists were:  Lyda Kuth (LEF Foundation), Alice Apley (Documentary Educational Resources), Judith Helfand (Chicken & Egg Pictures), Simon Kilmurry (POV), Brian Newman (Brainstorm Media / direcTV), Daniel Chalfen (Naked Edge Films), Beth Janson (Tribeca Film Institute), Winona Meringolo (Discovery ID), Sheila Leddy (Fledgling Fund), Phil Engelhorn (Cinereach), Chris Hastings (WGBH), and producers Daniel Chalfen and Andrea Meditch.  Past year’s panelists have included a similarly stellar line-up.

Several hours fine-tuning your pitch with industry big wigs.

This year, Helfland, Meditch and “Betting the Farm” director Cecily Pingree (who won the pitch in 2010) worked with each pitch participant to make sure their pitch was perfect.  Who better to train you than the people who have decades of experience doing just this.

Did we mention all of this happens on a quiet, relaxing coastal Maine town?

While the festival is a quick four days, the industry access is amazing.  Approach industry representatives easily over cocktail hour, invite them to dinner, and dance with them in the well-produced parties, in an industrial space filled with pine trees and video projections. 

When Indiewire asked Points North Producer Sean Flynn to explain why he thinks Points North is different, he explained, “At the Points North Pitch, we try to create a supportive space away from the noise and distractions of festivals and markets in big cities, where filmmakers can develop their projects through pitch training sessions and a public pitch with some of the industry’s leading funders, broadcasters and producers. As a small town on the coast of Maine, Camden provides a perfect retreat-like environment that helps filmmakers establish meaningful relationships with industry delegates.”

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