Serious indie filmmakers go to the D.C. Summit to pitch their shows

Chicago filmmakers were among the nearly 1,000 persons who flocked to Washington D.C. DATE for the 6th annual Real Screen Summit conference, presented by the publisher of “Boards” and “Real Screen” magazines.

Reality TV and finding co-production funding was the buzz at the 6th annual Real Screen Summit conference, where filmmakers could pitch their show ideas or documentaries to cable programmers around the world.

Held Feb. 5-6 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Washington, D.C. this year’s conference was host to 1,000 participants from 17 countries, including many Chicagoans.

The conference, presented by the publisher of “Boards” and “Real Screen” magazines, offered panels, pitch sessions and networking for those looking to sell television shows or documentaries to cable programmers from around the world.

“It seemed to me like there were a lot of Chicago companies in attendance,” noted Samantha Sanders of Green River Films. “It’s a good conference to attend if you’re working on non-fiction projects. The best part for me was the networking opportunities”.

Keynote speaker Bailey Johnson, SVP/general manager of the Food Network, spoke about product placement and how technolgy will continue to change the cable industry. The Discovery Network, The History Channel, National Geographic, HGTV, HBO, the BBC and more were out in force hoping to find the next big show or series.

News anchor and Tribune columnist Carol Marin of the DePaul Documentary Project, brought two documentary projects: “In the Eye of the Storm” is a look at why, in the worst year in memory in the American Roman Catholic Church, any man would choose to enter the seminary. “Lila’s Hope” is the story of a white, 30-something woman from Queens who came to Chicago’s West Side and one of it’s most difficult high schools.

Bob Hercules of Media Process Group pitched “Forgiving Dr. Mengele,” the story of Auschwitz survivor and former “Mengele twin” Eva Kor, and her controversial decision to forgive the Nazis as a way of healing her pain.

Jim Vincent of Diner Films was on hand selling a documentary called “Storm Warriors: Heroes of the Shipwreck Coast,” made by filmmaker Scott Erlinder. Samantha Sanders had three proposals for non-fiction series geared toward the cable market, and a two-hour documentary project she’s currently developing.

A question asked a lot was whether to use HD or not? Most cable networks have not yet embraced the high quality format. Helping to answer were Dave Anderson and Kevin O’Connor of Fletcher Chicago, a pioneer HD proponent and conference sponsor. A new event introduced at this year’s summit was the HD Marketplace. It featured an opportunity for producers to showcase their HD work to buyers, as well as continuous screenings of HD product from around the world.

The Real Screen Summit was a must attend for anyone wanting to pitch, sell or fund their TV doc or non-fiction series to cable. It may also be one of the best networking events around for indie cable producers.

Bryant Washburnis a local producer.