Tips: Taking your film to market

If you can’t pitch your film in one line – you’re dead.

So says Screen NSW drama investment manager Mark Lazarus, when talking about taking your project to a film market.

“You really do need at least one line – you need a hook, it’s show business,” the Loved Ones producer said during a recent Metro Screen panel discussion.

Lazarus, who was joined by Rachel Okine (Hopscotch Films), Lisa Shaunessy (Chaotic Pictures), Harry Avramidis (Arclight Acquisitions) and Annmaree Bell (Azure Productions), says it’s best to at least have both a title and a poster when pitching your film.

“So when you pitch the picture someone will go ‘Oh my god – that’s a movie’ – that’s the reaction you’re looking for.

“They’ve heard more pitches than you’ve had hot dinners I am telling you so you better have something really, really special and unique – even if it’s not true – that will hook them.”

Okine, Hopscotch Films’ production and acquisitions executive, says under no circumstances do you tell an extended synopsis of your story. The panel agreed that instead, you should tease the willing buyer.

The biggest mistake filmmakers make, according to the panel, was not being prepared or not being professional.

“It sounds so obvious these things but last week I got sent a pitch by text message,” Okine says.

“Also don’t agree to a 930am meeting in Cannes and don’t show up because you were pissed to the ground the night before. That will guarantee that someone will never want to meet with you again.”

Bell, Azure productions co-founder, says make sure you also research who’s sitting on the other side of the table, rather than waste everyone’s time.

So how ready should a project be before taking it to market?

Avramidis, Arclight Acquisitions director of marketing and acquisitions, says the filmmakers needed to have confidence in their project and a clear outline of the intended audience.

“As an international sales company, you would want the producer you’re meeting with to have at least a clearly developed treatment – at least,” he says.

“You’re hoping that you will have the script soon after and you’re hoping that the script is pretty developed.

“We want the package to be pretty much there; especially if we’re talking to the producer about finance and if they’re asking us as a sales agent to put in some or raise some finance either through presales or a distribution guarantee up front.

“I think if you’re meeting with sales agents at that stage, you want to have a confident game plan through finance and a clear idea of who you’re making the film for.

“If we’re getting 15 scripts a week, we’re not going to jump on the ones that are barely formed.”

The film specialists suggested the best markets included: MIFF 37 Degrees South, SPAAmart, The Film London Production Finance Market, Berlin, Cannes, the American Film Market, No Borders and CineMart.