The Good Pitch had its return to Silverdocs with eight social justice films pitched to a panel of broadcast media and organizations, which led to possible partnerships, future discussions and, for one lucky film, the entire completion funds pledged.
A Whole Lott More received all of its completion funds through the Good Pitch. The film is a feature doc that focuses on three workers at Lott Industries, a unique company that employs the disabled to provide industrial and information services. The company has been struggling to stay afloat after Ford left Toledo, Ohio.
Director Victor Buhler came across Lott Industries after he was in a serious car accident and was shooting the film while still in a wheelchair. ‘This project started with an accident but will be completed with great purpose,’ Buhler said in his pitch.
Maxine Franklin from the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation – the company behind the Good Pitch, alongside the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program – stated that she’d been tracking Buhler for some time and noted his ‘absolute passion and drive.’ Franklin then stated that her foundation is offering A Whole Lott More 20,000 pounds in support.
After calculating how much 20,000 English pounds were in American dollars, Loreen Arbus of the Loreen Arbus Foundation tallied up that Buhler was $20,000 short, to which she added: ‘Got it,’ committing to the rest of the money that Buhler needed to complete the film.
On the broadcaster side, ITVS’ Lois Vossen was interested in Buhler’s film and liked that it wasn’t just a disability-oriented doc, but also had an angle on unemployment, a sentiment shared by Ann Rose from the Sundance Channel. Organizations such as the American Association for People with Disabilities; Employment and Disability Institute, Cornell University; The Arc and Best Buddies also expressed interest in the doc.
Another notable pitch was The Truth Will Set You Free about the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson. Director Macky Alston and producer Sandra Itkoff are hoping that the film will help to humanize the LGBT community to middle America. Robinson was also in attendance, and he added that that movement can only make progress when someone from the inside dismantles anti-gay hatred, and he believes that the film does just that.
Joe Solmonese from the Human Rights Campaign said there was no question he would be involved with the film, while Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund’s Ryan Harrington stated that, as a sucker for films about religion, having supported Jesus Camp and Sons of Perdition, he would love to pledge his allegiance to Alston. Also interested in supporting the film in one way or another were Orlando Bagwell from the Ford Foundation, Katharine Henderson from the Auburn Seminary, Lois Vossen from ITVS, Jonah Wittkamper from Search for Common Ground and Bruce Bastian of The B.W. Bastian Foundation.
The other six projects pitched throughout the day also received good feedback and offers of support. They include The House That Herman Built, Hell and Back Again, $h*t, The Interrupters, Dear Mandela and Higher Ground.