Student's film pitch wins 1st place in contest

Student's film pitch wins 1st place in contest

Danny Ryan, a senior majoring in Telecommunication and Film, wants to make independent films. On Oct. 19, he pitched his idea to the New Orleans Film Festival Pitch Perfect contest and won first place out of 10 competitors. Photo courtesy of Nick Corrao

Matthew Wilson

The senior, majoring in telecommunication and film, said his practice of mixed martial arts and the recent story of Michael Sam gave him the idea for 
the film.

“Part of my pitch, I brought up Michael Sam and that whole situation,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be similar to the things he went through. People aren’t accepting him even though he’s really good. 
People are just really against having an athlete that’s really good that’s gay.”

After college, Ryan said he wants to make independent films, but right now he is busy working on turning his pitch into a film, which he plans on entering into film festivals next semester. Ryan said the $1,000 he received for winning will help him get started and find actors for the film.

“I really want to bring in some great actors,” he said. “That’s one of the good things about winning money for this pitch contest, because it’s hard to cast someone who can act and portray an MMA fighter.”

TCF department chair Bill Evans said pitching is the most important step in getting backing to get a movie made, but unfortunately pitching isn’t taught at enough universities.

“The crucial first step to getting a movie made is to tell people about what kind of movie you want to make,” he said. “It sounds pretty easy, but Hollywood is notorious for having you need a finely crafted pitch. If you want to make a movie, it all starts with 
the pitch.”

Evans said the contest will help motivate students to practice and perfect their film pitches because it gives them a goal to aspire towards. He said the pitch is similar to a business proposal to entice investors.

“A film is a little, small business,” Evans said. “It’s a temporary business. It runs for a year or two, but it involves other people needing to invest in it. They’re not going to invest in it unless you give them a reason why.”

TCF professor Nick Corrao said 
pitching is the most crucial step in the filmmaking process because you only get one chance. Corrao said Ryan did a great job in putting the many elements of his movie together and getting the 
audience excited.

“Danny was able to find a way to weave all those elements together in a way one of the judges referred to as a roller coaster,” Corrao said. “He’s taking us in and out of the story while adding elements about himself.”

At the festival, Ryan was able to interact with filmmakers from across the country, and said he struck up friendships with several of the competing filmmakers. He said having this experience will be invaluable towards his future as a director.

“It was good to make connections with them, so we could collaborate in the future,” he said. “In the film industry, everything starts to become smaller and everyone knows each other. It’s good to make those connections now because you’ll never know where they’re going to be.”

Ryan said winning the contest was an encouraging experience because it meant that people thought he had a good idea for a film.