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The Citizen Recommends: Good Pitch Local

On July 27, tune in to support local mediamakers and storytellers working to shine light on urgent issues facing Philadelphia communities

The Citizen Recommends: Good Pitch Local

On July 27, tune in to support local mediamakers and storytellers working to shine light on urgent issues facing Philadelphia communities

Lights, camera…pitch!

It’s not a phrase you usually associate with filmmaking, but pitching a project and gathering funding and supporters is one of the key offscreen jobs for filmmakers. And it can be especially tough for those making films focused on urgent issues facing our communities that are underrepresented in mainstream media

With the help of Good Pitch Local Philadelphia, run by an international nonprofit and local community media center PhillyCAM, that job has gotten a little bit easier for some socially-conscious media makers in the City of Brotherly Love.

“There’s a groundswell of support after they participate,” Thomas says.

At the annual Good Pitch Local event, the pitching goes both ways: Some projects are presented by mediamakers and some are presented by organizations, community leaders, and others who have a concept for a film to tell the stories that they think are most compelling. After each presentation, the audience can provide feedback, ask questions, and offer financial support, opportunities for engagement, ideas for collaboration and other forms of social and financial capital.

Audience members include interested funders, philanthropic guests, nonprofit leaders, policymakers, other artists and mediamakers, community organizers—and anyone who wants to attend. The goal is to create coalitions around defining social issues in local communities and beyond to tell impactful stories from those directly embedded in local communities.


MORE ON LOCAL MEDIA MAKERS


Good Pitch is a program from Doc Society, an international nonprofit based in New York City and London that works to connect independent documentarians with funders, new audiences and other supporters. The organization has raised over $32 million for films and impact campaigns, mentoring more than 500 filmmakers around the world; of the nearly 400 films Doc Society has supported, 12 have been nominated for Oscars (and two have won). With more than 15 international partners, it’s been replicated in cities throughout the world, spanning continents and time zones.

In 2007, the nonprofit started the Good Pitch Local program to “foster collaborations among local folks and other forms of media, and to strengthen connections between media makers and local social justice organizers,” says Shannon Thomas, program manager at the Doc Society.

The event first came to Philadelphia in 2018, when Doc Society partnered with PhillyCAM to bring it here. This year, as was the case in 2020, it will be a half-day virtual event, streaming live from 1 pm. to 4 pm. on Tuesday.

Anyone is welcome to attend by registering and requesting an invitation to Good Pitch Local Philadelphia on the Doc Society website. Registration is free.

“Every accolade for your film helps you get one step closer to funding, to distribution. It helps you not only refine your film, but figure out a home for your film eventually,” Sotomayor says.

Kristal Sotomayor, a Philly-based Latinx filmmaker, has pitched projects at all three Good Pitch Philadelphia events—and is pitching again this year. Sotomayor, who uses they/them pronouns, says one benefit of the program to media makers is the far-reaching network Good Pitch offers.

“Every accolade for your film helps you get one step closer to funding, to distribution. It helps you not only refine your film, but figure out a home for your film eventually,” Sotomayor says.

In their experience, the platform is valuable for connecting media makers not just with other funders, but also other creatives who may want to work with them on completing their projects. Sotomayor especially appreciates that the program has grown to provide additional workshops and assigned mentors for project participants.

Sotomayor’s current project, “Alx Through the Labyrinth,” that they’re co-directing alongside artist Daniel de Jesús, is an animated docu-fiction film exploring the impact of Covid-19 on Latinx communities through a magical realism lens. Sotomayor says that their goal at Good Pitch is to connect with animators, someone interested in collaborating on the soundscape for the film, and anyone who would want to be involved in impact and distribution.

William Bentley and Akeem Sims represent the Digital Defense Project at Good Pitch Local
William Bentley and Akeem Sims represent the Digital Defense Project part of the Defender Association of Philadelphia’s Participatory Defense program | Photo by Gretjen Clausing, PhillyCAM Executive Director

Other projects featured this year—four from local organizations, six from individual media makers—span a range of topics, covering everything from AAPI mental health, to diversity in the Mummers Parade, to criminal justice reform, and more. A curatorial committee composed of a number of local organizations, including the Leeway Foundation, Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, Philadelphia Latino Film Festival, Scribe Video Center, and University of the Arts selected the projects.

Before the event, participating teams get to know one another, as the cohort does workshops together prior to the event in order to prepare. Filmmakers meet community organizations and social justice organizers who can leverage their projects’ impact for change.

The organizers’ goal is for the funding and resources generated for all projects to circulate locally, bolstering Philly’s media-making community. After the event, the program staff sends each team a list of all the connections and pledges that were made during the event; the Doc Society even supports pitchers in doing follow-ups with all of the people who pledged to them.

 “One thing that’s really stark about doing this work in Philadelphia is that there’s already a really vibrant media community,” Thomas notes. “Our success in Philadelphia is all down to the talent and existing infrastructure.”

Thomas said program participants are not required to report back to Doc Society, but they know of a few teams that were invited to other pitch platforms or were given grants thanks to the connections they made at Good Pitch Local. One project from Philly’s Good Pitch Local last yea also received a Doc Society grant. Some projects from past Good Pitch Local Philadelphia events have gone on to screen at the Sundance and BlackStar Film festivals.

“There’s a groundswell of support after they participate,” Thomas says.

The Philadelphia event is really run by the local partners—including BlackStar Projects, Bread & Roses Community Fund, cinéSPEAK, Resolve Philly, Temple University Film and Media Studies, and WHYY. Local media center PhillyCAM takes the lead on outreach and coordinating with partners. Thomas says Doc Society simply provides the framework.

“One thing that’s really stark about doing this work in Philadelphia is that there’s already a really vibrant media community. We’ve just given it an additional platform in the city. There’s so many amazing groups doing this work and we’re there to be a partner in it,” she notes. “Our success in Philadelphia is all down to the talent and existing infrastructure.”

Philadelphia is the first host of three Good Pitch Local events planned for this year—there are upcoming events in Detroit on September 14 and Puerto Rico on December 7. (Locals with a Puerto Rican background are invited to apply to participate by September 10.)

Good Pitch Local Philadelphia, Detroit and Puerto Rico, will be virtual—which has its benefits.

“Any person coming can just beam in—we want to get their eyes on these amazing projects,” Thomas says. “It’s made it much easier to open it up to the world and get a platform.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2021, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., online; register here.

Header image: Ebony Welch from 12 Plus pitches to support her organization's youth media programs | courtesy of Gretjen Clausing, PhillyCAM Executive Director

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