In times of financial turmoil, you can either gripe or focus on solutions. Elizabeth Radshaw (pictured), the new director of the Toronto Documentary Forum, chooses the latter – particularly when it comes to supporting films.
Reflecting on TDF, the pitching event that runs May 6 and 7 as part of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Radshaw says: ‘Content can find funding, and funding can find content. Especially in the current economic climate, places like TDF where the industry comes together to discuss issues, present material and get direct feedback in a public forum are critical, so that we can be solution-oriented.’
Radshaw is well-positioned to grow the momentum she says previous TDF director Michaelle McLean built over the past nine years. With a strongly commercial background, Radshaw was most recently head of acquisitions at London-based distributor TVF International. She’s also worked in publicity and marketing at the National Film Board, in acquisitions at FilmAid International, and at various prodcos in Montreal and New York.
Busy prepping for TDF, Radshaw is focused on boosting producers’ profiles. Citing Saving Luna and Examined Life, successful films pitched at previous TDFs, Radshaw says, ‘The forum is the place where Canadian producers can interact with the international market, show their content and – God willing – find some cash.’
This year, 24 films will be pitched, along with one Mountie Hat pitch draw and five Good Pitch presentations.
A new initiative, Good Pitch is a partnership with Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and the Sundance Documentary Film Program. It creates dialog between filmmakers looking for support for their social-issue docs and NGOs, charities and foundations. Producers are rewarded with anything from financial backing to access to research.
But a TDF pass provides access to more than just pitching. There are also industry events, which take place during Hot Docs’ conference week, May 4-8. For example, Doc Summit is a gathering in which producer-selected topics (likely to include the controversial Canada Media Fund) will be discussed in a Q&A with experts.
There’s also Rendezvous, a matchmaking service that pairs commissioners with producers. ‘It’s another good solution in hard economic times, when broadcasters’ buying and commissioning status is still unknown for next year, for filmmakers early in their production to get on someone’s tracking,’ says Radshaw. Sounds like someone is focusing on solutions again.