Raindance HND Feature Film

The inaugural Raindance HND £5k Student Feature Film is being announced today

The Raindance Higher National Diploma (HND) on which I teach has created a competition for our students: across the two years of the diploma, we will find the best writer, best director, best producer, best DP, best editor, etc., and those students will be given a £5000 budget to produce a microbudget feature film.

This is an amazing opportunity for students to learn by doing, and to get their first feature film credit right out of school. The thought process is that many filmmakers got their start with microbudget narrative features: Robert Rodriguez, Peter Jackson, and Raindance’s own Kate Shenton to name but a few.

There are three Executive Producers for the project, who will provide mentoring for the students and supervise the project. Myself, Zulf Choudhry (Director of the HND), and Elliot Grove (head of Raindance).

This is the first time we have run this, so it’s a learning curve for all of us.

The students submitted their ideas with a logline and title. These were shortlisted. The selected students were given advice from their lecturers and support to further flesh out their story.

Two weeks ago the students pitched their ideas to our panel. The panel included the Executive Producers, lecturers, and industry filmmakers. Nine ideas were pitched, each with their own merits. The students could pitch as scriptwriters or as producers. They had three minutes to pitch their idea and seven minutes for questions. The pitches were filmed and made available (privately) to the rest of the student body.

Each member of the panel voted privately on their top 4 films. The student body has one vote collectively. The Executive Producers will then confirm which film has been selected. The successful screenwriter, producer, or team, will then work on developing the script until the start of year 2 (October 2018), and producing the film ready for shooting at the end of year 2 (July 2019).

The student voting process ends today at midday, and I’m really looking forward to announcing the film.

On a related note, check out the promotional video one of my students made.

It has been picked up by Raindance to promote the HND. More of my students have uploaded their promotional videos. I’m looking forward to watching them all.

Pitching a Produceable Film

I attended a workshop on pitching last night. Here I share a few of the tips I learnt.

Last night I attended a Film Matters talk run by The Pitch. It was presented by Jackie Sheppard, a feature film producer with Footprint Films. The topic was Pitching a Produceable Film.

The Pitch runs the Film Matters series regularly and promotes their events on Eventbrite.

Jackie is a wealth of knowledge, both as someone who has pitched in the UK and Hollywood, and as a Producer who is pitched to. I would love to share all of her tips, but will limit myself to a couple of snippets. Believe me, I have many pages of notes from this. I also found it relevant as someone who is getting into more and more pitches, and who hears a few pitches.

If you’re going to be pitching your film for the November 2015 Action On The Side project, keep these points in mind.

When you’re pitching, the buyer will ask themselves three questions:

  • does it get them excited?
  • does it suit their business needs?
  • how much money are they willing to invest?

The investor wants to know the answers to the following questions. You have to answer these in your pitch.

  • What’s in it for them?
  • What’s so special about your idea?
  • What makes you the right person to make this film?
  • Who’s on the team?
  • How much is your film worth?

After your pitch, you want the investor to think two things:

  • This is a movie I want to see.
  • This will make me money.

Questions investors will ask:

  • What other films is it like? (we discussed comps in our most recent script development group).
  • Why now?
  • Why is it relevant? Why will it be relevant in the 2-3 years it will take to make the (feature) film?
  • Why is it a feature and not tv?
  • What’s the budget?
  • What certificate will it be?
  • Who’s going to be in it?
  • What’s your finance plan?

I also learnt a new term last night: the rip-o-matic.

So, when you’re planning your next pitch, think of the above points.