Top 5 Tips for Pitching Short Docs

Pitching your film to funders, commissioners or film festivals is no easy task, but it’s something every successful filmmaker needs to learn to do.

It can be difficult to know where to start – how do you condense months of passion and hard work into 2 minutes? So, we spoke to Flora Gregory and Dominique Young, both One World Media mentors with many years of experience commissioning and producing for major broadcasters, and put together their Top 5 Tips for Pitching Your Short Documentary


1. What is the two-line description that tells the viewer what the story is about?

We call this the EPG or logline. A two-line description of the film, written to a maximum of 155 characters including spaces. If you can’t explain your film like this… should you be making the film?


2. Next, you need a short and succinct synopsis and proposal which shows the “who, what, where, when and why” of your film.

The synopsis should ideally be two, or possibly three paragraphs in length. The synopsis needs to pick out the main points of your proposal. Whereas the proposal can be slightly longer – 2-3 pages in length. It will also explain the who, what, where, when and why of your film, but will give additional information that offers a clear picture of how the storyline develops. What is the beginning, middle and end? Include any necessary contextual/background info and explain how you’re going to make the film: style, time frame, length etc.


3. Have a great title.

Your title needs to draw in the viewer and tell them what the film is about.


4. Research is key.

By the time you come to write the proposal, and then the synopsis, you should know the story of your film, and all key facts, inside out. Ask yourself: Who are the main characters and what happens to them? Where is it set, what’s the context? Why would anyone want to know about it? Why now?


5. One size does not fit all.

Know what a commissioner requires for their platform/slot before sending them your proposal and adapt the proposal as needed. If the proposal can’t be adapted to suit, don’t send it.


Make sure you spend the time to do your project justice. A great film will go nowhere without an equally brilliant pitch that can help get it in front of an audience.

If you have a story to tell, and are looking for some support to get it made or commissioned (whether that be in the form of funding support, mentoring, or training) check out some of the ways in which One World Media can help!

Click the links below to find out more:
Production Fund  Global Short Docs Forum  International Reporting Workshop