A week ago, Good Pitch held a gathering in San Francisco that was a platform for documentary filmmakers to network and fundraise. Having leveraged more than $3.4 million from various entities, Good Pitch (which was created by BritDoc and the Sundance Institute) selected seven films in various stages of production from applicants around the world. The filmmaking teams are then invited to present to an audience that is able to support these projects through funding and outreach.
Who does Good Pitch invite to fill the room? The 200 or so seats vary from broadcasters, such as CNN, which recently started a doc unit Impact Partners, a funding organization founded by Mountainfilm 2012 judge Geralyn Dreyfous; and various foundations, such as the Chorus Foundation, which made one of the biggest splashes of Good Pitch San Francisco by offering a $25,000 matching grant to a project called Citizen Corp about the Citizens United case made by the same filmmakers responsible for the definitive Hurricane Katrina film Trouble the Water.
Another significant presence at Good Pitch was Kickstarter, which has become an enormous force in independent film, providing the opportunity for filmmakers to raise as much as $83,000 for a single project.
Talking to filmmakers, it seems there are two positive outcomes about the relatively new phenomenon of crowd-funding: Some say their film would never get made without it; others feel it’s another way to ask friends for money to fund a creative pursuit.
One longtime filmmaker, however, complained that it’s a sign of the tough economic times for documentaries and compared crowd-funding to asking random citizens to curate an art show and challenged the qualifications of the general public to decide which projects are most worthy.
Few documentaries find an easy road to funding, so it seems to us that the more creative ways to make these important films, the better. At Mountainfilm, we try to help: Two of the projects featured at Good Pitch San Francisco were recipients of Mountainfilm Commitment Grants: Uranium Drive-In (2011) and The Untitled Snowboarding Project (2012).