The winners of The Pitch Film Fund 2023 have been announced at the first in-person finals since the pandemic, which were hosted by the NFTS. Till Death Do Us Part, a comedy about death by chocolate cake with a twist and Alice a drama about the pitfalls of celebrity culture, are the winners of the Pitch Film Fund 2023 Awards with Jessi Gutch and her poignant story about life’s final journey, Last Train Home, winning the Lucy Scher Award.
Comedy writer Carolyn Goodyear, winner of the comedy award, won the judges over with Till Death Do Us Part, her re-thinking of the story of Abigail. In her version, Abby - a long-suffering housewife - dreams of her un-PC husband dying a gruesome death. Due to a framed pre-nup proudly displayed by her husband Dick on the wall, the only way Abby will inherit his fortune - to help the 250 children in a Mozambique children’s home that she supports - is if he dies a natural death. Will death by chocolate cake work? Commenting on winning, Carolyn, said: ‘This is the icing on the cake – a sweet ending to an incredibly supportive pitching process‘.
Judge (and former Pitch finalist), Gbemisola Ikumelo, said: ‘With Carolyn, it was really exciting to see her interpretation of a not so readily explored story and for me personally, how she has grown as a creative over the years.‘
Londoner, Jake Falconer, is the winner of the drama award with Alice – a hard-hitting re-telling of Judas. The main protagonist has sold details about her famous daughter to the press. The daughter’s ensuing overdose and the money burning a hole in Alice’s pocket takes on a deeper meaning of betrayal, guilt and whether Alice should be forgiven. Commenting on his adaptation, Jake, said: ‘I wanted to explore whether Alice is a scapegoat for a celebrity culture we all partake in and do we all have the capacity to betray?’
Judge, actress, Indira Varma on why he was chosen to win: ‘Jake blew us away with his empathetic interpretation of Judas’ journey’.
Set up in memory of the co-founder of The Script Factory, The Lucy Scher Award for the best female filmmaker, was awarded to Jessi Gutch with Last Train Home, who receives development mentoring with screenwriter and script developer, Justine Hart (The Script Factory). Lucy was a friend of The Pitch and former judge, who died in 2018. Her passion for championing new screenwriters, is being honoured with this award.
Jessi was also a recipient of the Outstanding Pitch Award for drama and Tom Nicoll received the Outstanding Pitch Award for comedy with his funny Cain and Abel adaptation, The Bake. Unlike other film selections, entrants of The Pitch are guided every step of the way, with the opportunity to take part in multiple masterclasses, coaching and a residential workshop weekend, receiving detailed feedback so that they can fine-tune their pitches ready for the next level of the selection process. (See notes to editors). The overall winners don’t just receive a pot of money, but work with The Pitch team to produce their shorts; with story consultants and Pitch production partners Reel Issues Films to develop the script. Pre-production of the winning shorts will begin next month, in February 2023, with principal photography starting in June 2023. Films are shot by the summer with an aim to have them finished in time to showcase at the 2024 Pitch finals, ahead of Global Festival submissions. All of the finalists receive a unique combination of support, advice, training, experience and feedback.
This year’s panel of judges includes Boiling Point’s award-winning producer, Hester Ruoff; Jon Wardle, Director of NFTS; BAFTA winning writer/director Gbemisola Ikumelo (Famalam) and actress Indira Varma (Game of Thrones).