Apologies for the long, long overdue update from us at Driven. It's been a busy past few months, and we've got lots to tell you about.
First of all, let's tell you about the HotDoc Forum in Toronto, all the way back in May. The HotDocs Forum takes place during the Hot Doc Documentary Festival in Toronto each year. It is an invitation only pitch session to all of the top commissioning editors from all over the world. We were 1 of 27 films invited this year, so quite a vote of confidence.
We were second last to pitch on the second day. Rob Fletcher and Jonathan Howells were fortunate to have our new Exectutive Producer Tom Roberts sit at our pitch table, along with Tom Koch from PBS International, who is our new international sales agent, but more about that in a moment.
The sessions take place in the Great Hall at Hart House at the University of Toronto. The room looks like Hogwarts dining hall from Harry Potter! There is a long, rectangular set up of tables, with the moderators at the far end, all the commissioning editors along the sides, and with us at the other end. At both ends of the room are screens for trailers/demos to be viewed. There is also an audience of nearly a hundred who sit in on the pitches. So, a pretty intimidating environment!
We were introduced, and then given our 7 minutes to make the pitch, 3 1/2 of which was taken up by our trailer. We set up the story, explained our intended approach, then the lights were dimmed, and our trailer was played. We sat in the dark watching it for the hundredth time, and when it was over, the lights came back up, and Rob and I swallowed... it was time for the commissioning editors to react.
Here are some of their comments:
"I do love this story - one of the pitches I was looking forward to."
TVO Commissioning Editor Canada
"I have a road stories strand, - I am in."
Director of Independent Production and
"It makes it difﬁcult for both of us, I was looking forward to this pitch and Murray and I can battle it out."
CBC Executive Producer Canada
"Sweet and lovely story, would love to talk some more. I want to do a series on love, and this would ﬁt in."
VPRO Commissioning Editor Documentaries
"Sounds beautiful - almost Hollywood."
ZDF Commissioning Editor
"I ask if I would love to see this and I think yes."
YLE TV 2 Documentaries Commissioning Editor
"I love the archival footage, I'm interested is seeing more..."
Meyer DR Media Head editor of Documentaries
So, very good reactions. We were a bit stunned -kind of in disbelief. There were some critical comments, mainly about being careful the film isn't too sweet/too Hollywood, and has some real depth to it, which we completely agree with.
I mentioned PBS International at the start. We were approached by PBS before we arrived at Hot Docs. They had reviewed the project, and contacted us about possible representation. We were thrilled, of course, but carefully reviewed some other options. Ultimately, we decided they were a good fit for us, being that our film takes place in the US, with American characters, but also with a global backstory.
So, thanks to Charles Schuerhoff and Tom Koch from PBS International, for spotting us, and pursuing us. We're thrilled to be with you.
After HotDocs, we spent time with our amazing Exec Producer, Tom Roberts, developing some more rough cut scenes, to show to BBC Storyville, who showed some interest in Toronto. We're now had a couple of sessions with Storyville, but so far, no commission. We're working on it!
Most recently, I have been working on a "paper-edit" with Tom Roberts. Because we're still seeking our "finishing budget" we can't move into the actual edit yet, but instead, we've been editing the film scene for scene, line for line, on paper. It's been a great process, and has reinforced for us just how strong our material is.
We also received a real treasure from Niels Hobbs, Alfred and Jakobine's son. It is the hundreds of pages of Jakobine's original travel journals. They are evocative, colourful and insightful, and really conjure what it was like for the two of them to travel the world in that old taxi. Thanks Niels. This will be invaluable for the film.
So, there's a nice long (and long overdue) update for you all. We intend to be much more frequent with our posts leading into next year, and hope to have some more exciting new very soon.