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Birmingham Film Marketplace

Welcome to the inaugural post on the Dark Matter blog. I think we should call this Dark Chatter and give a nod to Alan Partridge. Anyway, back at the end of October we attended the Birmingham Film Marketplace to do a bit of pitching.

The Marketplace was a new experience for the both of us. The leading film-making event in the Midlands, the Marketplace is organised by The Producers’ Forum and is in its fifth year, attracting high calibre distribution and financing talent including the likes of Film4 and the BFI. Filmmakers from all over the UK attended the event, each group hoping to pitch feature film ideas at these industry professionals.

The experience, it turned out, was overall a positive one. We arrived at the appointed time for registration, and then there was an hour or so of networking and lunch before the Marketplace got underway. We had the chance to chat to other attendees and meet some of the commercial suppliers who had bought a stand at the event, including an enlightening conversation with a lawyer who specialises in film, as well as Film Birmingham and the Park Regis Hotel (both sponsors of the event).

We then had our first meeting with Moviehouse, where we decided to pitch Nobody, our gritty, urban thriller in the vein of Harry Brown and Dead Man’s Shoes. We’d taken a decision to write this script as semi-improvised to establish a realistic feel to the characters and situations; this got us our first solid piece of advice for the day, and that was “don’t”. To elaborate, coming to this sort of event looking for backing for first-time features, you want standard screenplays, nothing experimental or unusual. The pitch wasn’t a complete washout though, as the producer said he’d happily look at completed scripts once we had them.

Our second meeting, with Spier Films went a lot better. We pitched both projects we’d brought along to James and Matt, the Spier Producers. They were very interested in Depth of Perception, our Dickian military sci-fi, full of rug pulls and twists. So we’ve submitted our scripts to them, and we’re awaiting follow up. We also spoke to them about our short, Off Grid, and they gave us our second piece of good advice, and that’s to consider expanding the scope to a low-budget feature, rather than a high budget short.

Our final meeting for the day was a last minute replacement, as The Works, who we’d been scheduled to meet, couldn’t make it. So we spoke to Iron Box. However, that meeting didn’t particularly spark, and in the short term, they have a full slate. Maybe towards the end of next year, it may be worth approaching them, but hopefully we’ll have made other deals by then.

After the marketplace, there was a networking event, which I left early to catch a train, but Carl had a very fortuitous meeting right at the end. He spoke to an experienced producer who was intrigued by Off Grid and for the second time that day we were told to consider making it into a low budget feature. To hear the same thing twice in one day definitely has the wheels turning, however Off Grid will continue in its current form as a short for the foreseeable. We will update on this as the project takes shape.

All in all some solid advice acquired, along with a couple of very promising contacts so a day absolutely worth attending.

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