Hear what Canadian director, Su Rynard, has to share on her pitching experience at Sunny Side of the Doc 2012.
The project “The Messenger” won Best Feature Docs and garnered a lot of attention at the 2012 market. The film is now an international co-production between Canada and France, produced by SongbirdSOS Productions and Films à Cinq and it has just had its World Premiere at the Hot Docs on April 28, 2015.
Narrated by David Suzuki and directed by Su Rynard, The Messenger is an artfully-shot story about the the mass depletion of songbirds in the Americas. It depicts an alarming thinning of populations that has seen declines of many species since the 1960s.
We worked very hard to get to Sunny Side of the Doc. We did not have money. We could only afford to send one person, so I went to the pitch myself. I’m not naturally confident at pitching and find it very stressful. For these reasons we were very motivated to make the trip a successful one. We hired a pitch coach who helped me polish the presentation, we prepared excellent video support materials, and I hid in the hotel room and practiced the pitch until I felt ready.
Question: Your project SongbirdSOS won the Best Feature Doc Award award at Sunny Side of the Doc 2012. What followed on from your pitch and who are your partners?
Su Rynard: Back in Canada, we cemented our relationship with the CBC as the Canadian Broadcasting partner. We then built a new relationship with an old friend, Sally Blake. Sally and Martin Delafouchardière at Films Á Cinq in Paris turned the interest we had from ARTE France into a 2 x 1 hour pre-sale and we became an official Canada-France co-production.
Question: Almost three years later, at what stage of production is SongbirdSOS now called The Messenger?
Su Rynard: We have just completed the sound mix for “The Messenger”. The feature filmhas just been premiered at HOT DOCS 2015 in Toronto on April 28th. For the CBC we created a special one-hour version narrated by David Suzuki for The Nature of Things. We are very proud of both the feature and the TV documentary that garnered four-star reviews.
Question: The 2012 edition of Sunny Side of the Doc marked your first participation in our international doc markets. What have been your key takeaways and the business opportunities seized by SongbirdSOS Productions (Canada) ?
Su Rynard: Ultimately our project had nine financial partners, and we are pleased to be working with Paris based ZED for Distribution. We are a new tiny company that was created for this project, so relationship building was key. The environment is very competitive, so we are grateful to our partners who took a chance with us. Now that the project is proving to be very successful, I hope that this encourages buyers at doc markets to take chances with new individuals and to develop new relationships.
Question: What advice would you share with young producers looking for financing/co-production partners at the next edition of Sunny Side of the Doc, 22-25 June 2015?
Su Rynard: We worked very hard to get to Sunny Side of the Doc. We did not have money. We could only afford to send one person, so I went to the pitch myself. I’m not naturally confident at pitching and find it very stressful. For these reasons we were very motivated to make the trip a successful one. We hired a pitch coach who helped me polish the presentation, we prepared excellent video support materials, and I hid in the hotel room and practiced the pitch until I felt ready. The bar is high at Sunny Side.
All of the projects pitched were excellent and deserving – so how do you emerge the winner? My only advice is that this. Prepare well, have strong visual material to present, and speak from the heart. Even though this is a business, passion matters – it is what will carry your project through to the finish line.
About Su Rynard: Su Rynard is media artist with an expansive body of work that spans two decades. From her early video art created in the late 1980’s to her recent feature film debut,
Su Rynard has worked across a range of approaches: dramatic, experimental, documentary, and installation. Find out more.
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