An interesting offering at the AIDC this year was the ‘Pitch n’ Punt,’ a spin-off from Sharing Stories’ ‘Two in a Room:’ Two commissioning editors with similar remits in different parts of the world issue a call for proposals for a given theme. At stake is US$10,000 in joint development funding.
Dione Gilmour of ABC Australia’s Natural History Unit and Chris Haws of Discovery International put out a call for environmental films with international interest, containing ‘pithy, interesting science.’ Although they had never collaborated before, Haws stated that they shared four convictions: ‘quality; new filmmakers; innovation; and keeping our jobs.’ Gilmour commented that she was slightly disappointed at the relatively conventional range in the proposals received overall. In the end, they decided to award the $5,000 first prize to young Australian filmmakers Randall Wood and Gabrielle Jones for Unearthed, an amusing study of vermiculture and sewage disposal. Wood proposed to create a ‘burrow cam’ that will dig through a worm farm and show the audience the ‘secret lives of worms.’ Although Haws saw problems with the idea, as ‘most of the story happens in the dark,’ he agreed that ‘if you don’t take risks, you die.’
Jacquie Laurence from C4′s Independent Film and Video and John Hughes of Australia’s SBS decided they wanted to explore the theme of hoaxes – controversial and significant examples of a con job that would play in a 52-minute time slot. There was a tie between two Australian prodcos. Chris Hilton and Sarah Warner of Hilton Cordell Productions proposed to investigate the story of the ‘discovery’ of the alleged gay gene in 1993 to determine whether it was a hoax, or just bad science. At Sydney’s Magic Trick Productions, producer Susan Lambert, and writer-director Max Ginnane plan to use Max’s experience as a fetish performer in Japan to plunge into the subject of fantasy and sexual role-playing as hoax. The commissioning editors responded well to the strong story lines in both pitches, though Laurence wondered how Max would direct as well as be in the film. Both projects picked up a $5,000 development deal.