I didn't really vote for the best pitch in this micro-budget crowdsourcing project. I didn't even read them all, I just voted for someone I knew, Brendan. Now I wish I had read them all as I'm puzzled by the eventual winner.
The next round requires members to write an outline for the winning pitch. I was actually looking forward to it - until I read it:
Genre: Black Comedy
Title: ‘NEGOTIATING LIFE’
A melancholic life insurance salesman finds his attempts at committing suicide unwittingly thwarted by his disgruntled customers.
Copyright © Ryan Hooper
No disrespect to Ryan, but the problem is I wouldn't have a clue how to get an outline from that and I don't think that's entirely to do with my lack of talent. The central paradox of a life insurance salesman wanting death is interesting and I could do something with that. However the rest of the pitch - which has to be in the outline - requires too much hard work to do convincingly. I'd have to spend a great deal of time trying to work out
- why he would try to kill himself in public
- how his customers could intervene without realising what he's doing - several times
- why the customers would be disgruntled.
- how to fill the remaining 70 minutes after the premise has played out
Or maybe he's not in public at all but at home and there's a succession of different customers phoning him or dropping by just as he is about to slit his wrists and he somehow feels obliged to stop what he's doing to answer the phone or open the door.
The outline seems to require ignoring truth and logic, discarding believable characterisation and embracing excessive co-incidence. Your typical British low-budget film then. But even accepting that as just a fact of our "industry" which only the picky care about, can an audience really be convinced that for a whole movie someone can be stopped doing something which is really easy to do, several times by chance?
Negotiating Life won the members' vote - which just says you managed to get enough friends and family to become members and vote for you - but it also won with the jury of film producers. However the pitch tells me nothing about the story or why I should want to see it, never mind why I should want to try and write the outline.
The pitch or logline should give us an actual story with actual developed characters, not just a comedy sketch. Although, to be fair, this is by no means the first comedy sketch pitched as a feature film and it won't be the last.
All micro-budget movies have are the characters and story and they have to be right from the concept. The British audience will avoid British films, especially low budget ones. But I believe a strong concept and solid script can attract a stellar cast and crew happy to defer which will then attract a bigger audience.
We are creating art but realistically we have to think beyond that to funding, audience, distribution and marketing. Three and Out was a biggish budget black comedy about attempted suicide that was actually quite well-written and had a proper story and characters but it flopped due to the marketing campaign which over-emphasised the controversy and suicide aspect. I'm concerned because there is no other aspect to Negotiating Life and I think the restrictions in the pitch prevent it being given more depth.
But if any of you think I'm an idiot for failing to understand the blockbuster potential of the pitch then, rather than swear at me, join Movie Mogul yourself and get your outline out there and prove me wrong. It could be the big money winner. The deadline is 31 July.
This is my previous post on pitching