Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Coursework PITCHES

As part of the ongoing effort to simplify and streamline, I've put the key points into a Word doc, but there's a lot more in this post and others linked below.

Every post on genre (so therefore also the whole DBHorror blog too!) is useful for this; definitely read this post for one.

You will be filmed pitching. The footage is mainly for your benefit; one of the many multimedia features your blog will be able to boast. You can find footage from past pitches + the Q+A that followed on some past student blogs.

Following Qs from 2010 pitches, I wrote this post answering Qs about 'working titles' and use of copyright music. You can also find commercial filmmakers using YouTube to pitch.

If your pitch isn't of satisfactory quality you will be barred from working with anyone else, a serious disadvantage. You will be asked to re-pitch.
You won't be allowed more than one mouse click - any supporting visual/audio aids need to be put into one video or Ppt file (animated, self-timed if Ppt). You can if you wish pre-record your pitch and play this vid as your pitch!

TIME: 90secs
Its easy to caught out with this, and fail to deliver your full pitch with your timing you should practice your timings!!!
Think carefully about what to include, and what to exclude; you don't want to rush through everything and lose impact. Equally, it will look rather bad if you finish 45secs in.

FORMAT: verbal pitch

If you want visual aids to illustrate your pitch, this should be a 90secs movie or PowerPoint with animation set to ensure you aren't crouching over a computer when pitching. Any such materials need to be embedded on your blog, ready to play, for the start of the lesson when pitches are scheduled. Messing about with memory sticks in the pitching lesson is not an option! To be clear: NO button pressing on computers while you're pitching!!!
This supporting video is intended to illustrate what you're saying: if you're mentioning an existing movie/character, a poster or screenshot; a pic of a local location (could use GoogleMaps!); pics of props etc...

CONTENT: there are some aspects you must address; more detail, especially on genre, follows under 'Themes':
  • working title
  • comparison to two+ existing movies (eg 'its Jaws meets Bambi: Venison') - very important technique for convincing that there is an existing audience for a film such as yours (you may have noted what Warp's Head of Productions said about this at the York Film Fest)
  • narrative - focussed on the opening, but some brief detail on how the film would develop. Remember, the opening is a self-contained scene. What are you going to reveal (exposition) to the audience, and what hold back (narrative enigma)? Dropping in some Propp, Todorov etc here might be an idea!
  • locations - any particular locations in mind? Explain why, including a link to genre norms
  • cast/characters - main characters? Will casting be an issue?
  • representations - stereotypes/countertypes? Do you want to challenge/reverse gender norms from the genre for example? Address core stock characters you intend to use (jocks, scream queens, final girl, etc)
  • the killer + other genre elements: detail the look, motivation, weapon etc
  • props/mise-en-scene - consider what you'll need for this, and ensure its achievable!
  • media language - any shot types in mind? Anything which makes yours stand out? Maybe you can already visualise how an edited scene is going to play out on screen? Can you find screenshots of existing texts which will help illustrate your idea, or mock up your own photo/still?
  • inspired by/intertexuality: postmodern theory argues its impossible not to be intertextual. Whether you agree with this or not, its a useful tool to broaden your appeal to your potential ...
  • ... target audience (primary and secondary)
  • summary: what makes your project the one others should work on?
Your own ident would make a nice starting point for your pitch!
Here's an example of a coursework production from elsewhere (you can also look at more from their uploads) which might get you thinking about what you can achieve:

THEMES: You need to be thinking about aspects of genre in particular; it would certainly help your case if you can come across as a knowledgeable source on your chosen genre. For the various points below make full use of the books, DVDs and online content/links at to help add real precision and sharpness to your pitch. Aspects of genre (these overlap with the above list; you should work any such points into that list) to consider include:
  • inspired by/linked to... - which film/s have helped shape/inspire your idea? You don't have to try to reinvent the wheel; a large part of the appeal of genre movies is their repeition and predictability. Its a key principle for picking up marks for AS coursework that you consistently make clear and specific links to existing texts
  • location/s - setting can make all the difference. A quick browse through most of the supplied books on horror will reveal good detail on the typical range of settings associated with the genre, and help you understand the symbolic significance of these. The DVD documentaries on the slasher genre (Going to Pieces; An American Nightmare). If you are thinking of any visual aid to play during your pitch, this is the most likely aspect to focus on.
  • SFX/costume/mise-en-scene - 'clothing maketh the man'... But also set dressing - The Cellar is a good example of your predecessors doing this very effectively (Rancid, from HurtwoodHouse, is comparable in this regard: the setting, costume, lighting, props all create a suitable atmosphere - though the soundtrack is utterly vital too). See later point on victims+killers
  • characters + representations - every genre has certain stock characters, with teen-based genres generally reflecting some mix of the jock, nerd, cheerleader etc stereotypes; its important to reach out to the outsider (think about the huge glut of superhero movies of late: its generally the geek/outsider as protagonist) but also to include some glamour. The press, and TV news, tend to represent teens as feckless hoodlums; slashers and rom-coms can be a fine balancing act: portraying stereotypical debauched behaviour to please the teen audience, perhaps playing out a life(style) they aspire to, but often with a moral sting in the tale. Remember, its generally the morally 'pure' final girl who survives; the scream queen etc being punished. But perhaps you want to play with the gender conventions? Maybe take a risk and move away from the almost constant representation of heterosexual couplings as the norm? 
  • victims + killers - not so relevant if pitching a rom-com! Think carefully about the identity of the killer; a bit of reading in any of the books will reveal the key codes and conventions as regards their backstory, motivation and psychological state... The motivation for killing is critical to a coherent slasher (which can of course be held back, adding enigma to the narrative). Have you thoughts on a mask, outfit (perhaps utilising an unusual profession?) or other costume? What about weaponry - you'll also find much detail on this in the books
  • titles - use the links provided on this blog to help think about these; this can be where the rom-com comes into its own, as you can think about diegetic titles, and be very quirky (watch the opening of Napoleon Dynamite for a nice example). Slashers can have very stylistic titles too though...
  • soundtrack - while this is critically important to the success of a film in any genre, I'd be wary of spending much if any time on this aspect in your pitch as you'd be getting very abstract ... although if you're a talented musician it might be worth subtly throwing this in!!!

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