Good Pitch, a springboard for audiovisual creation
The first audiovisual meeting of the 15th FIFO took place on Tuesday 6 February. A meeting to present Good Pitch, a program introduced in 2005 that is a big hit. Explanations.
Created by the BRITDOC foundation in partnership with the Ford Foundation and the Sundance Institute to bring together project leaders and potential financiers, Good Pitch is a phenomenon that originated in England before crossing the oceans to Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Hosted by Alex Lee, Director of the Documentary Edge Festival in New Zealand, this first audiovisual meeting presented guidelines to encourage local filmmakers to register. The goal of this expert on documentaries from the Pacific region: to develop a Good Pitch Pacifica by the year 2020. The idea: to put in place production workshops whose impact on society can be measured (“impact productions”) to develop productions, broadcasters, and philanthropic, NGO, or non-profit association partnerships. “Why a Good Pitch Pacifica? Because we have incredible stories and questions to share. We must make ourselves known to obtain financing because people do not know us. It is important to create a means for telling these stories,” explains Alex Lee to a small group gathered beneath the Maison de la Culture’s tent.
To impact the world
The Director of the Documentary Edge Festival draws upon the success of different Good Pitch festivals, such as the one in Australia that has already organized three editions. 37 Good Pitch programs have been developed in 15 countries, and 29 million dollars have been raised. “We need this financial support in the Pacific region. Since 2008, 4700 organizations from 42 countries around the world have become involved. 500 filmmakers have been able to develop their films and 250 films have been pitched.” Among the films pitched, several films have been awarded prizes such as the Oscar-winning Last Men at Aleppo or The Opposition that was awarded the Grand Prize at the FIFO 2017. “We want films that have a strong social impact. The goal is to have communities tell their stories and for this they need to be helped,” explains Alex Lee who stresses the term “impact productions,” recently coined. “Here, it is the filmmaker or producer that must be able to judge a film’s potential, whether it can change or impact the world.” To illustrate his example, Alex Lee invites Holly Fifer, who directed the film The Opposition and who is present at the 15th FIFO, to take the mike and recount her experience. “As a result of the film, people working in common law became involved, even if they did not know this community,” says the filmmaker who followed a Papua New Guinea community, threatened of being wiped off the map by a tourism hotel project. “Because of this film, we were taken to court. Without the support of these people, the foundations and NGOs, we would have lost the case. Thanks to them, we were able to screen the film in 49 cities around the world,” explains Holly Fifer who obtained half of her funds thanks to Good Pitch.
Another example of what can be achieved by Good Pitch is the film Out in the silence by Joe Wilson and his companion Dean Hammer. This documentary tells their story, their union and the problem of homophobia. “We participated in one of the first Good Pitch and it enabled us to campaign in communities and meet people who wanted to help us not only financially but especially because the subject interested them,” explains Joe Wilson who presents the documentary Joey and the Leitis at the FIFO 2018. The Good Pitch phenomenon is therefore a real catalyst for filmmakers. “We are the custodians of the history of the Pacific,” says Alex Lee. “We can serve as an intermediary for the Pacific to try to bring beautiful stories to the region and improve the making of films. It is important to produce but also to see what happens once the film is made. What is the next step for Good Pitch? We would like to start a conversation with the islands of the Pacific. Let’s imagine that there is a Good Pitch in Tahiti, then in Auckland and in Noumea. In this way, helping the locals to obtain funding for films that will be used to launch Good Pitch Pacifica.” Today, Good Pitch Pacifica is in the planning and development stage. 2018 and 2019 will serve to promote a local Good Pitch, bring together the islands of the Pacific, find the local coordinators to open a dialogue, and seek a collective strategy to launch this new instrument. It is a first step towards real development of audiovisual creativity in the Pacific.
FIFO / Suliane Favennec