Last year’s RBC $10,000 Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition winner, Erika Ulrich, shares her experience preparing and pitching.
Erika is heading into production for her film, Palm House (Eternal Youth) which will premiere at the 2019 Festival! She answered a few of our questions for anyone considering submitting a pitch to this year’s competition. Submissions are open until June 7, 2019.
- GFF: How did you hear about the RBC $10,000 Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition?
Have you attended before?
Erika: I came across the pitch competition on the GFF website while searching for the festival program one year. I hadn’t actually attended the pitch competition before, so I made sure to reach out to more experienced folks who could help me know what to expect!
- GFF: Did you have an idea before you decided to pitch? Or, did you cultivate this specific idea for the RBC $10,0000 Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition?
Erika: I had been developing the idea for about a year before submitting it to the pitch competition, though mostly conceptually, and it had changed quite a bit by the time I pitched at GFF.
- GFF: How did you prepare for your pitch? What did you think was important to include in your pitch?
Erika: I created a short, very simple animation to play on screen while I pitched the story to the pitch jury. This took a couple of weeks to make but allowed me to begin defining the tone, sound, and visual language that I wanted for the film. I think it was important that my central idea and story was communicated really clearly to the pitch jury, and the tone of the short film could be simultaneously conveyed through the prepared sounds and images.
- GFF: Why would you recommend emerging filmmakers apply to this pitch competition?
Erika: No matter the outcome, it’s such a great learning experience to pitch your film idea in three short, intense minutes. You’ll get great feedback on your idea, and might even meet some other folks who are just as excited about your pitch and want to collaborate with you, with or without the fund.
- GFF: How has winning the pitch competition helped you as a filmmaker?
Erika: It has allowed me to work with some really talented people in the industry, and learn a lot from them. My mentor at the National Screen Institute, Elise Swerhone, has proved invaluable in the feedback she offered on the story, various crew connections, and overall support for the film. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with her and so many other really experienced people.
- GFF: What advice would give to people pitching you wish someone had given you?Erika: In a five-minute short film, every frame is going to hopefully communicate a lot of things to your audience, but also point to one central idea. I think it’s worth recognizing that you’ll never be able to communicate all of your ideas for the film in three minutes to the jury, and if you can focus your pitch on your main thematic and visual concept, told through an interesting and clear plot –it’ll go a long way! Also, the other folks who pitched alongside me had developed ideas for producing their films in more depth than I had, and if I pitched again, I would have thought about that side of things a bit more. The jury has time to ask questions, and I found those questions can point to more pragmatic aspects of production, so it’s worth putting some thought into that as well. And of course, relax and have fun!
The pitch competition is sponsored by RBC and supported by On Screen Manitoba. The pitch winner will receive the cash prize to make their film along with a mentorship through National Screen Institute and an equipment rental grant certificate from William F. White International!