The Art of the Documentary Pitch Workshop

Oct 23, 2009
6:30 PM ET
New York

How do you sell a documentary? In the PaleyDocFest2008 workshop/competition The Art of the Documentary Pitch, five emerging nonfiction filmmakers will pitch their ideas to a panel of distinguished documentary producers—and to the audience. The producers will give them feedback on their concept as well as their presentation skills—great lessons for all aspiring filmmaker.

The winner will receive a $5,000 grant, sponsored by The Documentary Channel, to be used toward the completion of the pitched film. Panelists will also take questions from the audience about how a documentary idea grows from seed to fruition.


PaleyDocFest08 Pitch Workshop Finalists

WINNER Aaron Schock, Circo

The Paley Center congratulates Aaron Schock on the theatrical release of his film Circo. Aaron is the 2008 winner of the Paley Center's Doc Pitch Workshop. Circo opens at the IFC Center in NYC on April 1, 2011. The film's Los Angeles theatrical release is on April 8, 2011, at the Nuart Theater.

Statement from Director Aaron Schock:

"In 2008, I participated in the Art of the Documentary Pitch competition at the PaleyDocFest. This was my first time pitching Circo in front of an audience and to panelists composed of key funders, broadcasters, and other documentary professionals that I needed to know to make my film. Little did I know that this would become one of turning points in getting my film off the ground. Not only did it build my confidence in pitching the film—a critical skill to any filmmaker—but the contacts I made at Paley ultimately led to obtaining funding and completing my film. Participating in the Art of the Documentary Pitch was a one of the cornerstone moments in making Circo." 

Film description: A hardscrabble, rural traveling Mexican circus troupe has lived and performed on the road since the 19th century, but will their art survive into the 21st? Seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old performer/laborer in the circus, Circo follows the Ponce family circus as it grapples with the difficult choice to continue their century-old family tradition, or to seek a better life, especially for their children, outside the circus. Ultimately, Circo is an intensely intimate portrait of a family making a living from their sweat, artistry, wit, and tenacity against the backdrop of Mexico's collapsing rural economy.



Sarah Klein, Mother of the Year
In April 2008, a group of young mothers from all over the country joined together in the heartland of America to compete for the title of "Mother of the Year." Here, amidst the buzz of the convention, these well-qualified women presented their platforms to a group of judges. One of them went on to win the national honor and became the reigning representative of mothers all over the country. This feature-length documentary will combine colorful footage of the contest with archive and in-depth interviews to paint a picture of the undervalued, over-stressed culture of motherhood in America today and a competition that reflects that perfectly.

Stephen T. Maing, A Coal Miner's Son
Inspired by a search for truth and the potential for fame, a young vegetable seller from a rural coalmining town in Hunan Province sets out to report on China's most controversial and censored news stories. Filmed on location in China and Hong Kong, A Coal Miner's Son follows the often hazardous journey of one of China's first citizen reporters.

Jolene Pinder & Sarah Zaman, Bismillah
Bismillah follows the beginnings of one Muslim woman's groundbreaking struggle against America's political structure. The film tells the story of Farheen Hakeem, a feisty 32-year-old Muslim Girl Scout troop leader who puts herself under public scrutiny by taking part in the consummate patriotic act-running for office. We wanted to make this film because we felt like mainstream America's portrayal of Muslim women and girls is incredibly one-dimensional.

Shukree Hassan Tilghman, More Than a Month

Black History Month, originally a noble creation intended to include Black History in the American History lexicon, has instead become a month for big companies to hock products to blacks and for schools to dust off the Black History unit from last February-often the only Black History children will learn. More Than a Month follows the filmmaker's cross-country campaign to end Black History Month while discovering how it began and what it would mean to abolish it. Isn't it time for Black History to be American History?

Eric Daniel Metzgar, Filmmaker Mikaela Beardsley, Producer Nicholas Kristof, Author and Film Subject

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