At the Grand Auditorium of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, all eyes were on the five final pitchers; one of which would walk away with €25,000 worth of development money, courtesy of Warner Bros. International Television Production.
According to moderator Ed Waller, 70 proposals from 30 countries were narrowed down to the final five below:
- ALL FOR ONE ONE FOR ALL – Presented by Janane Mallat, CEO, Iproduction, Lebanon
- LOOKING FOR LOVE – Presented by Stuart Coxe, Executive Producer, Antica Productions, Canada
- MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY – Presented by Adam Markowitz, President, Markowitz Media, USA
- PERSUASION – Presented by Soreyrith Um, President, Summertime Entertainment, USA
- WHICH ONE OUT – Simon Staffans, Format Developer, MediaCity Finland, Finland
For a pitch competition that positions itself as a “unique platform for pitching original ideas of never-before seen non-scripted entertainment,” the pitches witnessed by the near-capacity audience carried few surprises. There were some unique touchpoints though. Audience interaction weighed in strongly for Janane Mallat’s All for One One for all, as well as Simon Staffans’ Which One Out, with Lebanese producer Mallat taking it a step further by including home audiences’ votes (via tablet and mobile phone) that will inevitably affect the outcome of the contestants’ game.
Soreyrith Um, president of Summertime Entertainment in the US pitched an idea about finding out just “who is the master of persuasion,” based on the simple, yet universal concept that on life, we often ask people “to get people to do what you want.” The concept of ideas based on real-life seemed to go well with the jury.
The five-man jury consisted of:
- Lars Beckung, Programme Director, Kanal 5, Sweden
- Ana De Moraes, Director of Development, Twenty Twenty, UK
- Virginia Mouseler, CEO, The WIT, France
- Laurent Storch, Chairman, TF1 Production, France
- Geert Willems, CEO, Blazhoffski Belgium, Belgium
Most pitches gave standard presentations; a speech, followed by a trailer, and the inevitable fielding-of-questions from the jury. One pitcher stood out though. He was the only one who engaged the in-house audience directly.
Executive Producer Stuart Coxe of Canada’s Antica Productions started his presentation by asking for the house lights to be turned up and polling the audience on how many have recently been to an online dating service. The audience, whom one suspects was not comfortable being in the spot light, gave lacklustre responses, much to the dismay of Coxe. Still, the quick-witted Coxe proceeded to quote statistics that support the notion that online dating sites have become largely popular in many nations. The demonstration of the formats’ ability to “travel” is a surefire way to get the jury’s attention wouldn’t you think?
Coxe’s idea of pitting a traditional matchmaker (aka relative or friend – one who will select a partner based on what one needs rather than what one wants) versus guru from online dating service (using high tech algorithms) does not seem all too new a concept. However, judging by the numerous questions from the jury (detailed ones at that about how each act would be executed), Coxe seemed to have gotten the jury’s attention.
All in all, three game shows, one reality-game show, and one dating series were presented, with Coxe’s dating format clearly standing out.
At the post pitch Q&A (jury deliberation), Coxe spoke about his days as a former journalist; one gets a sense that his former training of reporting real-life events further strengthens his emphasis that formats do well when based on real-life concepts. That formula clearly worked for him.
All five pitchers were asked on the difficulties of preparing for this pitch. While the cost of producing the trailers are generally not high (most pitchers quoted a couple thousand dollars), the pitchers acknowledged that there is more non-financial costs involved, such as the personal favours from friends and colleagues, the excessive amount of time spent on brainstorming ideas plus the role-playing of the potential questions that the jury might ask etc.
Still, the hard work paid off, for one company at least.
Congratulations to Stuart Coxe and his team at Antica Productions for a job well done!