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Filmmaker Focus I The Pitch Film Fund



In this edition, we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of a filmmaker or filmmaking team, we are exploring the inner-workings of an organisation that offers opportunities to indie short filmmakers. This is a truly game-changing organisation, combining funding, critical skills and creative motivation. In this edition of Filmmaker Focus, we explore The Pitch Film Fund.  


Who They Are

The Pitch, to many indie filmmakers, especially those looking for the opportunity to elevate to truly cinematic levels, is an unmissable opportunity that allows filmmakers to really explore both their creative craft via the bible. Each year, The Pitch, which is headed by Luke Walton and Pete Sinclair, splits £60,000 between two films, a comedy and a drama; both of which must be based around a bible verse.  


So, let’s explore who is involved in The Pitch, how it works and what exactly judges are looking for when weighing up pitched projects.  


How The Pitch Works

Each year applications for the Pitch Film Fund open in April and close in September. One drama and one comedy short film will be selected and £60,000 will be split between the two winning short films. Though, the Pitch isn’t your typical funding body. There are rules, specifically as this is an adaptation challenge. Each film submitted and won, must be an exploration of the bible. 


Now, when we think of the Bible and film, our mind conjures images of Ben Hur and Jesus of Nazareth. But actually, what the Pitch encourages is not the direct retelling of the stories within the bible but open and creative interpretations of the stories and passages within the source material. In fact, the bible has heavily inspired storytellers from Shakespeare to Martin Scorsese and many Hollywood films, such as action epics The Matrix and Se7en were even indirectly inspired by stories from within the bible, such as the seven deadly sins. As an example, a previous Pitch winner, The Gathering was heavily inspired by Genesis 49.1-33. The film follows an elderly widower as he gathers his sons around his deathbed to pass on his final advice. 


Filmmakers don’t have to be Christian or even believe in the stories within the bible to be able to use this as a source material. And while short films submitted to the Pitch must directly engage with the source, explore it’s meaning and discover the characters and stories that it provokes, filmmakers are allowed to be creative and explore their own interpretations of this old worldly text. 


In a previous post, we explored the work of writer/director, Paul Holbrook whose film, Hollow was backed and funded by The Pitch after he won the 2019 drama pot. And much like with Paul, the Pitch has helped so many filmmakers experiment and truly hone their craft since its founding in 1994; so if there is one organisation that deserves an entire case study written about them, it’s the Pitch! 


What Do Judges Look For? 

Previous winners of The Pitch include Paul Holbrook’s Hollow and Luke Bradford’s White Gold. The winners for 2024 have also just recently been announced as Our Child directed by Anatole Sloan and Jael Drives the Nail, directed by Maddie Dai. 



Each year, a specific panel of judges is selected to read and consider all submissions. For the 2023/2024 competition, judges included Nour Wazzi, Jessa Ahluwali, Matthew Page and Karol Griffiths. Each of these judges work to assess three key areas when weighing up submissions, which are: story, adaptation, candidate.


When assessing a short-form story, judges will ask a series of questions, which include—is the story clear? Will it work as a short narrative? Who is the audience? Is there a central character with a satisfying journey? So, if you are considering submitting to the the Pitch, sit back, read your script and ask yourself each of these questions! 



In terms of adaptation, judges will be assessing how well submissions engage with the biblical text and its context. And finally, when submitting a short film, filmmakers will upload a two-minute video pitching their film. While watching this, judges will be looking at how candidates express their personality and voice within their application and specifically in the video pitch. It doesn’t matter whether you are a newbie or a seasoned short filmmaker, if you have a unique voice and deliver your pitch well, you and your short film idea will be considered for The Pitch Film Fund. 


Top People at the Pitch

The Pitch is headed by trained actor and producer, Luke Walton who has produced more than 15 short films with Reel Issues films in conjunction with The Pitch. He, as a producer, focuses on emerging talent and has really worked hard to add additional benefits and developmental opportunities for participants including residential study courses and other developmental training. 


Luke Walton, Director of The Pitch Film Fund

Alongside Luke, Peter Sinclair has acted as associate producer at the Pitch since November 2019. Prior to this, Pete worked in content creation for multiple charities as well as a freelance runner on short films and TV sets—including Netflix’s The Crown. 


Hatty Haines joined The Pitch as assistant producer in February 2023. Before joining the fund, Hatty was administrating at the British Independent Film Awards and producing micro-budget music videos. 


Hatty Haines, Assistant Producer and Pete Sinclair, Associate Producer


Alongside Luke Walton’s Reel Issues Films, renowned film producer Jackie Sheppard and her production company, Footprint Films, has developed and co-produced multiple short films that won The Pitch Film Fund. With Jackie acting as a consultant and producer, just some of these films include Home, Leash, and 2018’s winning short film, White Gold. She will also produce the forthcoming annual Pitch Film Fund winning short film alongside Luke Walton. Outside of the Pitch, Jackie has produced feature films, Africa United and Escape from Pretoria which starred Daniel Radcliffe; so, if there is a dream producer you want attached to your short—it’s Jackie! 


Jackie Sheppard, Paul Holbrook and Luke Walton

The Pitch Film Fund is more than just funding and production for good ideas. This is an organisation that truly believes in the power and potential of short film and works harder than almost any other organisation of its kind to invest in the filmmakers on their programme. For more than a decade, they have consistently enabled, guided and presented short film of the highest standard and cinematic experiences that truly showcase what film (short or feature) is capable of. If you are looking for the place to discover ambitious visionaries and dedication to cinema, then look no further. 


For Filmmakers

Applications for the 2025 fund open on 20th April 2024. If you have a film based on the bible or want to challenge yourself to write a biblical adaptation and would like to submit, click here for all the information you need! Good luck!  


Find out more about The Pitch Film Fund using the links below





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