Not every decision-maker will be interested in the project you are offering. That’s why it’s important to research the decision-makers you are planning to approach. You need to be certain that you invest your time and energy in approaching the right people.
Everyone needs to pitch projects and ideas to financiers, networks, distributors; some writers, directors and showrunners are better than others at pitching. You always need to know your project as well as the back of your hand before you start gathering momentum for the story.
Before you start the submission process, be very clear what you want from the people you are hustling and what you are offering in exchange.
The traditional way of approaching the decision-makers has always been through sales agents. As a filmmaker/storyteller, you would find a sales agent willing to represent you and your projects. The sales agent would set up meetings for you, at which you would pitch your project.
However, the Internet and VOD platforms have disturbed the traditional way of doing business. Nowadays you can approach decision-makers at pitching festivals or pitching/networking events, which are often set up as part of a film festival, film market, or as a separate event. You can also directly upload your finished film to one of the VOD platforms, cutting out the middle man. Film festivals and film markets have always been an excellent place to network and meet decision-makers. Before you go crazy with film festivals remember that not all festivals are equally strong at attracting the industry professionals you would want to meet. Do your research before you start attending film festivals to see if that particular festival is going to meet your expectations.
Before going to a film festival or a film market, you will need to set up meetings in advance with people you want to meet. That should be done weeks, sometimes months in advance. Those meetings will usually be short, and the decision-maker will have lots of meetings during the festival or the market, so make sure you stand out from the crowd.
Some festivals are incredibly busy with premieres and celebrities descending on the festival. Still, as long as you are focused on your goals, you should be able to have a few meetings, during which you could practise your pitch and make new contacts.
In my opinion, the substantial online presence in today’s market is equally important and have helped many filmmakers stand above the crowd when used intentionally. Headhunters for creative industries are actively looking for talent online. Focus your efforts on a couple of platforms, which best accommodate your creative outlet to showcase your work, don’t try to be everywhere at the same time.
One of the best, the oldest and the most trusted ways of approaching decision-makers is to be introduced to them by people they already know and trust.
When that happens, you need to make sure you are as ready as can be and are prepared to shine. The introduction can only happen once, and you shouldn’t keep bugging your contact for more introductions or for sorting out meetings for you. It doesn’t work this way. Once the introduction takes place, YOU are in charge of what happens next. You will have to manage this relationship in the right way without putting too much pressure on the decision-maker, but at the same time not disappearing from their consciousness completely. You should be patient, since it may take some time before the decision-maker gets back to you or before anything happens for you and/or your project
Some companies and decision-makers can be easily reached online. If you are searching for certain people, such as sales agents, distributors, producers, make sure you know exactly what they do before you reach out to them. If you approach the wrong people with the wrong request, you will be disappointed with the outcome.
If you find decision-makers who can be easily reached via email (by easily I mean easier than some other decision-makers are), make sure your first introduction email is polished and shiny. You only get one chance to introduce yourself. No one wants to hear the comprehensive pitch in the first introduction email. The first email should be a short exchange and introduction, and if they are interested, they will ask for more.
While waiting to hear back from any of the decision-makers you have approached, I strongly recommend working on growing your social media outreach and fan base. The fan base may turn out to be the make or break of your successful negotiation with the decision-makers.