Every year, thousands of commercial projects end up dead in the water even after months of hard work have gone into them, not to mention the painful pitching process. That inspired director Eno Freedman Brodmann, who’s worked with the likes of production companies Prettybird and Smuggler, to write and direct “The Pitch,” a satirical short film that lays bare the ridiculousness of pitching commercial treatments and the agony of projects dying.
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The eight-minute film starts out as a conference call between a director, producer and creative discussing a treatment for a commercial for “a collaboration between chicken nuggets and bluetooth speakers.” The director (who’s basically treated like dirt on the call) tries to keep up as the creative talks through treatments for the ad. These are acted out by the talent, an actress (Lourdes Hernandez) selected as the spot’s “young, hip, very very very attractive” protagonist.
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The scenarios start out fairly mundane and cliched (the girl opening her fridge to find it empty) but quickly evolve to poke fun at multiple industry tropes and trends. These include ridiculous brand merch (“panko-covered bluetooth speakers”), token attempts at diversity (the suggestion that the actress morph into different characters of all races and genders), “authenticity” (channeling “Tree of Life” with “real human emotions"), attempts to throw in mixed media and edgy camera work and more.
Just as the story becomes more and more ludicrous (with treatments simultaneously trying to reference robots, “American Beauty” and trippy drug culture) we’re brought back to earth with a bump. First, budget constraints mean they have to resort to the actress in a mo-cap suit with greenscreen. And then, the project is abruptly canceled. The final scenes feature the camera backing away from the exhausted and devastated actress, in the throes of losing her mind.
The film ends with a reminder that “every day, 113 jobs die worldwide without ever getting to production” and an exhortation to “be you. Be human.”
“I wanted to make a film which shined a light on the concept of where dead jobs might go, and the creative bankruptcy involved when pitching with endless references and no real idea in sight,” explains Freedman Brodmann.
“In my quest to become a commercial director I was advised to start making treatments for other directors to see their pitch style and be exposed to the process. While I took this advice and gained a tremendous amount of insight, I was overwhelmed at the ‘contest’-like approach to the industry and [by the fact] that directors had to fight against each other to win a job. Watching a six-second YouTube pre-roll of a Doritos ad might not shed light on the creative armies it took to make it—and the other companies who tried so hard to make the ad and meet the client’s budget but walked away giving ideas and losing the job.”
“There are some incredible agencies and directors pushing the envelope and who aren’t scared to shake things up,” he adds. “Yet, after being on so many calls back-to-back and hearing the tornado of buzzwords and smoke, I was left with the idea for this film. A commercial that gets constructed and deconstructed. The idea is that there is no real idea in the end sometimes. Also, it was funded from my savings doing pitch work for other directors. So, in a comedic and cyclical way, all the companies I value indirectly funded this film."
Freedman Brodmann aims to enter "The Pitch" for comedy and film festivals (find out more at his website.) In the meantime, anyone who works in the industry should take the time to enjoy it here.