In January, 10 hopeful filmmakers gathered at Pinewood Studios, an iconic venue that boasts the likes of Star Wars and James Bond movies among those made there.
‘It's brilliant coming to Pinewood,’ said Henry Steedman, one of the finalists. 'So many amazing films have been created here so you really get a sense of that atmosphere.’
The candidates faced the judges in the boardroom, to present their pitches. It’s an imposing and almost regal room. Whether pitching with music, a full presentation, or a simpler approach, the pitching process prompted candidates to delve deeper into their film idea through judges’ feedback and questions.
Afterwards, it was clear just how intense this process was. ‘Pitching in front of the judges is a bit like The Apprentice,’ said Joe O'Hare. But, he added that it had been a valuable learning experience for the filmmakers. ‘If you want to work in the industry creating narrative films you’re going to have to sell a creative idea,’ he said.
Before arriving at Pinewood, the finalists had had a chance to practice their pitches at the Residential Weekend in the Lake District, working with Laurie Hutzler, a story consultant.
Finalist Natalie Lacey said, ‘I had no pitching skills before this, so I've actually learned a lot about pitching.’
After working with Laurie, candidates had another workshop with coach Anna Cox at Pinewood Studios to help them prepare their pitches.
‘I'd never been exposed to anything like that,’ said Lewis Jackson. ‘To get it from an expert’s mouth, you don’t get that anywhere else really.’
When the last candidate had made their pitch at Pinewood, it was the judges who faced a difficult decision, narrowing down 10 finalists to four. Returning to the boardroom the next day the final four had their last chance to convince the judges to invest in their film.
Only one filmmaker could be crowned the winner and, after a very stressful weekend, Ben Cohen was announced the 2017 Enter The Pitch winner for his film Queen.
Ben received £30,000 funding to create his film and all of the finalists had the chance to catch up with the judges again and reflect on the weekend.
Though they didn’t take away the big prize, other finalists said it had been a great experience.
‘It’s all the infrastructure of the competition that is most long-lasting in terms of what it gives you as a filmmaker,’ said Henry Steedman. Natalie Lacey added, ‘It's giving you the stepping stones to start making your film and I think sometimes that's the hardest thing in filmmaking, is just to start off.’
Ben will start creating his winning film this year. If reading this has given you the filmmaking bug and you think you have an idea worth pitching then remember that you can enter this year's competition: enterthepitch.com