PicSeeder competition fails to germinate

The picSeeder concept seemed easy to grasp: a global, online pitching competition designed to enable aspiring filmmakers to fund short films.

Alas, the execution proved challenging and the number of entries received by the June 30 deadline- 32- is way below the volume expected by the organisers, filmmaker Bill Bennett and his wife, producer Jennifer Cluff.

Contestants were invited to submit a 1-minute pitch video. Members of the site ( get to vote on their favourite pitch until July 8. Those who send in the 12 most popular pitches will be asked to provide a 3-minute video.

The winner will be determined by an international jury comprising US sales agent Robbie Little, French financier/producer Jean-Charles Levy, Stephen Gates, New York-based head of the literary department at talent management company Evolution Entertainment, actress Michelle Ang and Indian producer Udayan Baijal.

At the outset the organisers said the cash prize, funded from the $28 entry fee, would be up to $50,000 as they were hoping for at least 1,000 entries and, more optimistically, 2,000-3,000.

Bennett and Cluff, who self-funded picSeeder, will reach into their own pockets to bump up the prize to $2,500. The winner will be named in early August.

He told IF he will use Twitter and Facebook to get feedback on whether they should try to launch a second edition of the competition and how it should be improved.

Pondering the reasons for the disappointing response, he pointed to a surprising level of apathy among young filmmakers. Some wanted a fixed amount for the cash prize and others felt the $28 entry fee was prohibitive.

Bennett spread the word among all the major film schools in Australia, some overseas institutions and Australian industry bodies, evidently to little effect. The vast majority of the 32 entries were from Australia, with two apiece from the US and Europe.

On the positive side, Bennett said there are some “fantastic” pitches and some aspiring filmmakers were very enthusiastic and diligent with their entries.

If he does decide on a second picSeeder he will probably look for commercial sponsors that would guarantee the prize money and help with marketing.

“I take heart from Tropfest which started with a group of people sitting in a café in Darlinghurst watching short films on a TV,” he said. “Look at what Tropfest has become thanks to the brilliance and hard work and perseverance of John Polson. Perhaps picSeeder can go the same way. We are convinced the concept is sound.”

  1. I can identify. A lot of people don’t understand how much hard work goes into putting together these festivals.

    I think he would have had more luck and response if he didn’t limit the age group but then again that’s who he was aiming at. He was trying to support the up and coming filmmakers in Australia but did not get the response he was hoping for.

    I have ran eleven film festivals now under the Angry Film Festival banner and might give it up or give it an extended break. The reward versus the amount of time put in is just too great a gap.

    I guess after eleven of them I have lost some enthusiasm towards the whole project.

    The support from possible sponsors is lack luster as foremost they are interested in how much an audience they can reach. Most are not interested in supporting a small film festival.

    There’s a lot more I could add but I feel I would just be rambling on.

    Tom Vogel

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