It was a hot summer afternoon in a packed auditorium when the representative of the British Beekeepers Association (a man with a beard so bushy and comfortable I thought there might be a family of robins nesting in it) declared he represented 20,000 beekeepers and millions of bees. Then he pledged their full support behind a film called The Vanishing of the Bees as the room cheered.
This is Good Pitch - a BRITDOC project in partnership with the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Channel 4 Television.
Since that day, over 1500 different organisations have attended Good Pitch events to hear 120 feature documentary films presented. Collectively, they have raised over $4 million in funding and even more value in partnerships. The support of bees is, of course, priceless.
Dragon's Den With Nice Dragons
Good Pitch is a very unusual pitching forum, one where filmmakers are introduced not just to film funders, but to foundations and philanthropists, brands, nonprofits and campaigners, broadcasters, digital innovators, policy makers and agencies. The goal is to kickstart coalitions that are good for all these partners, good for the films and good for society. The next Good Pitch is taking place in London on 25 June.
American Egyptian filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (Control Room) is, as I write, filming in Egypt for her film about Tahir Square. She will be jumping on a flight to London to present her film at Good Pitch Europe this Monday. She will have just seven minutes to explain what her film is about, and what effect she wants it to have in the world - and finally what partners she will need to do that.
Listening will be leaders from over 180 international organisations including Amnesty, Google, Kickstarter, The Elders, Channel 4, The Progressive Christianity Network, Body Shop Foundation, Occupy, New York Times, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, One and The Committee to Protect Journalists. The Royal College of Nursing are coming with GlaxoSmithKline and Edelman to hear a project about musician Edwyn Collins' recovery from stroke. And there are other urgent and moving stories from South Sudan, Uganda, East Jerusalem, Sri Lanka and debt-stricken Europe.
Here's one we made earlier
Over the last 12 months, a stream of other Good Pitch alumni, in collaboration with their partners, have been changing the national agenda in the US. Following lobbying and strategic screenings of The Invisible War (by Director Kirby Dick) in Washington DC, the Secretary of Defense announced new rules to combat sexual assault in the US Military. http://invisiblewarmovie.com/
Enabled by foundations he met through Good Pitch, the director of Bully, Lee Hirsch, is building a tidal wave of youth activism in American schools. He has set a goal to reach 1 million children. So far, 100,000 have seen it at the cinema alone. http://thebullyproject.com
Last week I went to the Brunswick retirement village in Sheffield to watch the UK premiere of Ping Pong, a film by Hugh & Anson Hartford about the world over 80s table tennis championships. We had tea and crisps, watched the movie and then we played ping pong. The film is opening in cinemas in July, two years after it pitched at Good Pitch to Age UK, Sports England, The English Table Tennis Association, Wellcome Trust and the London Olympic Committee. As a result of the partnerships made, it's not only playing cinemas but outdoor Olympic screens and a special Ping Pong Pack is going to hundreds of care homes, including not only the film, but a video guide to playing the game for older people and two mobile nets that can turn any table into an essential physical activity for the over-80s. Magic.
To watch trailers for all the films presenting at Good Pitch Europe 2012 on 25 June at the Royal Institution, visit: http://goodfilm.org/goodpitch/overview/gpeu2012
For more about BRITDOC and how we fund and support independent documentary filmmaking: