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The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker

Lesson 8 of 17

Students Pitch Their Films

Francesca Gregorini

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker

Francesca Gregorini

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Lesson Info

8. Students Pitch Their Films

Lesson Info

Students Pitch Their Films

So we're actually going to move on to some student pitches I know some of you guys have some pitches to present do we have any volunteers who wants to come up and do the first pitch come on, don't be shy all right let's go step right up many hello hey, so I'm not sure how I'm supposed to start this oh anyway turned what you like so actually I'm in the middle of producing a sort of proof of concept for the feature ok, I want to make soon so I'm really listening to you about howto get funding I'm gonna have to do these pitches yeah I think I'm going to use this proof of concept with creative package ok along with it but I'll start with the long line that I kind of came up with a story yeah let's hear it so someone who can supernaturally more their physical appearance into any other person that they want to who has that ability has had it for so long that they for gotten their own identity they forgot who he or she is that's cool how old they are really not what they're supposed to look l...

ike so now they he's depressed, drunk and alone and when this person is being depressed he finally meets another actual shapeshifter like himself and so as they meet his life changes but it turns out that changes for the worst okay I think that sounds super interesting I mean personally I love high concept you know and that's you know definitely what this is and I don't know I mean I think it sounds like super exciting I guess like for me when you say changes for the worse like like I just like what is it? Well at first he thinks it's great that he meets another person like him with is in power right? Because he's kind of lost his way but he gets used and it just turns out that it was a bad idea to meet up with it's kind of the villain of the story right his opposite and he gets used and it turns out it wasn't great tea with them but so do you it does he like the sea find his identity at some point making is that like you know what I mean like is what is the well he they get together and plan some some some criminal acts because that's how they want to use their power okay and the villain shape shifters more aggressive with his what is wrong doing right and so what the main character has toe deal with is learning more about himself one of his morals right what he's ok with doing because he has this ability he's that's what he's living with what he what he does with the ability right what he learns okay what to do um I'm just going through out ideas I mean probably like in a proper meeting e throughout like their two cents of ideas but because I'm a creative like your creative like like to me like what comes to mind when you say that is like ok so they're like he's been kind of pulled in a bad direction by this villain right and so they are committing these crimes or whatever so if they're committing some crying right and let's say I have no idea exactly what kind of crimes you're committing but let's say they're perpetrating something against the family or whatever and then in the perpetration of that like he sees a photo or whatever and discovers his identity maybe he's that person son or something but it's like you know what I mean so somehow you know bringing the movie full circle so that it's like this is a man who's lost his identity because he has this power he's constantly shifting and in the the process of doing this crime he like discovers who he is and therefore you know decides to protect it early literally this discovers who that is who I am and therefore you know it comes their protector or whatever whatever whatever but it's like you know it's like it's you know it's important that there's a beginning middle and end and that your character sort of achieves his goal so with you it's great because his gold is who the hell am I and not concept is a really good concept for all of us like who the hell are we? You know what I mean? And in the process of doing the things that we do in our lives you're like, oh, I'm this kind of person on that kind of person I can be selfish but at heart I'm good or like I'm helpful but on this but and then your identity forms and so it's like it's great if this is a character who starts not knowing who he is by the end of his archy finds out who he is through these you know, actions and I love that he's not just like you know, I love characters that are flawed, you know, in a me and I think that's like we all are flawed and but you know, in his flawed situation like, you know he becomes he finds out who he is and becomes a good guy and you know, something like that would, you know, just literally spitballing on top of my head and seems like it would be maybe, um, a better way to sort of end and the pitch rather than his life still about just ended with well, yeah, just like think about that and sort of put it through your you know, through your filter and you know and you can write it out longer you know what I mean and then just condense it teo teo you know to a shorter version but I think it sounds like super exciting and you know and supercool it's been exciting to producing I'm shooting next month I have the dates law way and you shooting like a teaser for I'm shooting the first three scenes so this is pretty much what it is it's going to end when he finds the other shape shifter okay just before you meet it's um ok kind of sets off back to that's when this proof of concept okay, great win but I'll have the whole shifting effect that's great and then you have other actors playing the same that's awesome that's a challenge of this film yeah, that sounds like the audience is you have to see the character through the different different actors yeah, no, I think that's like super cool and then you're gonna in your pits sort of tells them what happens after that situation. Great. Okay. All right, guy thank you right here. Another bitch is the next volunteer. Oh, my goodness. All right. Okay, so this is a story I've already written as in the form of a screenplay. Okay? Feature screenplay awesome. Um you know it's a cycles of provisions, yes, but headstrong thirteen year old innuendo girl escaped the confines of her remote town and the people within it to set out alone on an ice floe what on an ice floe okay like yeah, you know, on a treacherous journey across the arctic in search of a place she's heard about on ly through story and imagined in her mind what will she find? Will she survive that's great. That sounds like a movie I ve day e uh looking for funding making so much money you know, making unfortunates are going to close uh no, but that sounds that sounds really good it's a coming of age story and you know, it sounds like and you've written this already right? So obviously and you know what she finds right? Can you tell us which he finds e don't know that I want them to go to get out in the world, okay waiter I don't know I mean, I don't know entirely how tio how to improve on that because maybe it's just thiss is great as it is, um other than the run on sentence of it, but no, I do that all the time. That's like that's constant with grant is fixing it's like, uh this is like two paragraphs without a period um yeah, I mean, I don't know if you wanted to read it to me again because sure, just like thinking like, wait that's my movie okay so headstrong thirteen year old and new it girl escapes the confines of her remote town and the people within it to set out alone on an ice floe on a treacherous journey across the arctic in search of a place she's heard about only through story and imagined in her mind I think it's good I don't have I wish I had like some sort of gem to throw in there but I think it sounds really good I mean to me I was like tio if possible put some sort of you know irony in there like so it's like she escaped this on lee to be confined by that are like, you know, right something that sort of is like um this makes it gives it some layer of complexity it's not just like you know she goes away from this and it's fantastical here it's like you know what I mean it's like on ly too you know whatever like I'm sure it's like you know treacherous right and it's treasure and they're perfect figments of her imagination but people come with her right so she's alone but not yeah but I mean yeah obviously in doing the pitch that's what you would say because you know because I'm imagining like wow, you know that's a very silent movie girl paddle fishing but yeah but no but that sounds you know really good I mean obviously you know this is going teo you know appeal more to women so it's like and you know that's one of the big challenges is like you know that I find this well is you know, a lot of the funding is coming from the guys you know what I mean? So it's like so that's it's also an adventure yes so I was really pump up that part of this of the pitch thie adventure aspect of it you know and and also like, you know, a lot of the movie going audience actually is going to theaters are the kids you know, rain so I think this has great appeal right for that, you know, because it's like you know, done right and cast right like you know this I think this could be awesome, you know? Yeah, like really, really cool. All right, so the lug line is in order to restore his rex camaro that left him handicap and put his life on hold. Ah, homo phobic thirtysomething act says wedding planner for his gay younger brother's wedding. Amazing you've got irony in there it's like no but I mean that's like I mean that's like, you know that's like what one would use to sort of teach what a log linus that's great it's like a guy in the situation that is forced to sort of become but how does he have if he's homophobic how does he have a best friend again always right it's his younger brother oh it's his younger brother oh, I see you just in that situation right? I think that's I mean that sounds awesome that's him yeah okay in order to restore his wrecked camaro that left him handicapped and put his life on hold a homo phobic thirtysomething acts as wedding planner for his gay younger brother's wedding what do you think, guys? I mean, I think that has sort of all the elements I mean obviously this guy's going toe start here you know and grow there and you know, it's like, you know, I don't know I think it sounds really I think it sounds really good you know what I think like, um I think you know, just again just totally spitballing just because this part is one for me it's just like, you know in terms of it might be good to sort of see what is I don't know where the story starts have you written the story yet or have you kind of outlined it it's that one? So where does it start? I'm just curious sure it it starts with c already in the hospital she already it's a yes after he's been kind of crippled but he's just kind of putting his life back together, right? So I was thinking like you know, one thing that might be nice to see in the movie also would add some action would be like you know, the night of his accident you know so it's like you know so you see you keep cutting back to that night you know he's like an asshole he's like putting people down he's getting drunk he's like wherever the fuck he's doing like so you keep seeing flashbacks to who was this man before? Okay, you know, however that threw out like the interrogation yeah kind of you can yeah, exactly you can so you can you know, building up to the accident you know what I mean and that's your sort of like your action scene and that's where your money will go and that's it it's sort of ok, you know, you have to find some stunt people that you can corrupt and where whatever your talents are, teo you know, get you and crash them cars or you know or whatever so that it's like you have this set piece unity which is the accident that leaves him in this way but gives him this gift you knows that forces him tio evolve as a person, you know what I mean? I think probably would be good, you know, because then you can really witness, you know, the evolution of this man who started out as you know this guy and is now this guy but I think it sounds I think it sounds really awesome who like you yeah cool I'm excited to see all these meetings you guys better do them yeah anybody have any questions about this pitch process? Hopefully this was helpful to all of you guys going out there pitching any questions go ahead yes I'm kind of thinking about you asked does she find what she's looking for and just how much you give away and a pitcher and way you better give away the whole kitten caboodle give it all away yeah I mean at this point like obviously you've registered your script and whatever so it's a give them everything I give them your life's blood you know what I mean? Like just like you've got a you know it's like you gotta make it sound like super exciting and everything everything that it can be you know, because it's like this is your moment you've got your five minutes with this person you know what I mean and yeah and I think you know finding you know like we're talking about with yours you know, because it's quite you know, female centric like just trying to find like someone a producer someone that's done something even if they don't have the money that you can attach to it just to bolster like bolster your thing going in it like just to give him more you know credibility and that goes I mean for everybody really you know and you know and yours you know, specifically because of the homophobic you know, aspect of it's sort of like, you know, reaching out to you know, wealthy gay people there's plenty of them in this town you know, just like you know think like who's your niche for like, what you want to do and like try to like, reach out tio to those people like you know, anything that you can do to sort of up your chances um getting this made you know, you can't stoop to low is the moral of the story question I'm a new life a documentary filmmaker ok, do you have any advice on log lining and script writing for that? Because I understand it's important to actually have your arc and the blueprint all mapped out, right? I mean, I think I mean, from what I've heard from, you know, my documentary filmmaker friends like and this is somewhat true even with scripted material like you think you're making this movie and then you're making this movie, you know what I mean? So yeah, it's good to sort of like, you know, tell them what you're setting out to document but I think, you know, especially in documentary filmmaking, I think you know, the important thing is to stay open to take what do you what do you finding out? That is not a documentary you set out to make, but wow, this is so interesting. I'm friends with lucy walker who's like an oscar nominated documentary filmmaker, and she made this movie called crash riel, which, you know, was about sort of head trauma injury in the snowboarding, you know, community and, you know, but what was really like, heartbreaking was the family and the family already had one son that was mentally impaired, and now they had, you know, their golden child, it was out winning all these awards or whatever, but she really start to focus documentary more on sort of now they've got two sons and sort of the relationship between the two sons and, you know, one thing that I didn't realize that all about, you know, people with, you know, mental disabilities is that the one son that was born with it knew he had something wrong, you know what I mean? It wasn't like, oh, they're in their own, they don't know they're just thinking they're fine and you know what I mean? There's. So many heartbreaking revelations, and that movie had nothing to do with snowboarding are crashing your snowboard or anything that had to do about the family dynamics and sort of like you know, I don't know, but I just remember, like I was devastated walking out of that movie and it was like, I don't think she set out to sort of document this family that ended up having to mentally impaired children. But that's what it was so it's really think about yes, you know, set out. I'm going to do this documentary about snowboarding and this kid crashes and whatever, but just stay open to, like, where's the heart, you know, where is the heart of what you're documenting, you know, really. But I think, do you think having a logline applies just as much to that, you know, like, for sure question that, yeah, yeah, I'm kind of wondering, what kind of batteries do you sit and how do you set them with investors like I'm thinking like you wouldn't want someone in the middle of productions they I gave you twenty thousand dollars. I want a car crash scene or something like that, like you maintain good relations and I think you think you have you must get an attorney like once cashes in play and like all that kind of madness is going down and you know hopefully you have ah producer even if you were one of the producers hopefully you have a producer that's a buffer to that you know what I mean and like you know your set is your set you know what I mean? And you have to kind of be clear about that boundary you know, there's certain things that are just that you're not as nice as a person as you are like that's not a negotiable you know? You just have to figure out what's negotiable and what's not and definitely you know, keep good relations but it's like you know, investing in movies is not like, you know, a great return on your money for the most part I mean sometimes it's a windfall and most of the time it's really not you know? So hopefully the people that are investing they're not like looking at their watch looking for them to come back because that's really stressful for them and for you and everything else it's just like they go into it knowing full well you know being explained what the parameters are and what your hopes are etcetera so far and then it's just you know you're all in it together, you know you've invested all this time and effort and whatever and they've invested their money and all of you want the best outcome possible and you're all working to do that but that's just what it is you know but no like I would limit sort of investors coming to set like maybe you know the you know in their contracts they can have because that visit or whatever but not like, you know I mean I couldn't direct my movie for hand my thirty manual investors like on set like for everyone pitching in or whatever and whoever those people are like in their video village over there they're not sort of on set with you over here where it's like you know, you have to keep you know, it's a atmosphere and it's a thing and it's like you know and you just have to you know, make sure that you keep that place safe for the actors and that you know, everyone knows sort of who's running the ship and you're running the ship nicely but that's your steering it and that's you know, that's never in question and you have to kind of you know sometimes like when you feel that being challenged or you served from the get go shut it down nicely but shut down you know, because it's like, you know, you let that go, you know, from one head of department and suddenly you've got another had a department that's you know veering in and before you know it's you know what I mean and you can then talk to them after and just say hey, I'm sorry if that you know but it's just like if you have if you have, you know, differing of opinion or whatever like take me aside and let's talk about it and let's figure it out but not on set and not in front of the actors and not you know what I mean like there's a time for everything and you have to be open because also you could learn something and maybe they've got a great idea but it's just like you just have to sort of maintain that control because it's like that you know it's just better for everyone everyone feels more secure it's like create training a dog you mean like everybody in their crates? Okay, now you'll come out to play and everybody go back you know what I mean? Because otherwise it's just a wild and woolly ride, which it is anyway, so you just have to try to, you know, spirit lovingly, but you know, with a firm from hand all right, we'll wrap up this segment, but I just want to check any other final thoughts, any advice for people out there who are getting into pitches anything you want to end this segment with I think, like, you know, do bother to read a couple books because it can't hurt on dh. You know, and just get going on it and write about something that you really care about, because you have to see it through for a long, long, so much longer than you ever thought. Because even once it's done, then you're taking it to festivals, and you're talking about it. Then you're interviewing about it. So it's, like, if you don't care about what it is, you're writing about enough to keep doing that. Then you're really going to be an unhappy camper.

Class Description

Independent filmmakers are often called on to not only write and direct, but to produce their projects. Wearing all three “hats” can be a daunting, yet inspiring proposition. In The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker with Francesca Gregorini, you’ll learn easily-applied strategies for balancing the demands of doing all three very unique jobs.

Francesca’s work has been officially selected by the Toronto Film Festival and premiered in the US Dramatic Competition at Sundance. In this class, she’ll discuss both the advantages and challenges of producing a film you’ve written and will direct. 

You’ll learn:

  • How to decide when its ‘right’ to produce your script and when to develop it further
  • Which "hat" to wear at what time from start to finish
  • Personalized paths for fundraising, production, and distribution

Francesca will explore the processes of writing, directing, and producing and how leading the charge can make these three unique perspectives more efficient, productive, and artistic.

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker will help you develop best practices for all aspects of indie film production and inspire you to take control of your own destiny as a filmmaker. 

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I think there were TONS of marvelous takeaways, here, in this course. The examples she presented about Scene Cards, the hardships, and the beauties-- all of it was very beneficial information for aspiring filmmakers. However, the verbal hesitance; "um", "you know", "uh", "you know what I mean", "or whatever"-- that started to get really distracting really quickly. But the course and the overall purpose of the lessons, that was great!


The good - Lots of helpful info about pre-production, things to consider, and working with actors. The not-so-good - Not exactly self-sufficient. If you were to cut out all the " know..." clutter, the course would probably be about 30 minutes shorter.