Behind the scenes: Meet the creators of One Good Pitch, the 3rd place Entertainment Project student film winner
In October, we announced the AT&T Entertainment Project, an open competition seeking imaginative, undiscovered short films from aspiring professional and student filmmakers. Filmmakers vied for a share of $43,000 in prizes, meetings with AT&T Entertainment executives, and their film to air on the AUDIENCE Network on DIRECTV. Meet Parker Hill, Director, Co-writer, Editor, and Producer of One Good Pitch, who won $2,000 for coming in third place in the student category.
One Good Pitch is a short film about a son, Andrew, who hopes to reconnect with his father over a baseball catch. Hill made this short drama as her undergraduate thesis film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. What started out as a little league movie about ‘the participation trophy generation,’ turned out to be the exact opposite. However, she did succeed in creating a strong scene that depicts how parenting and sports are so closely related.
We caught up with Hill to learn more about her experience making films, casting challenges, and her biggest influences.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your team and how you worked together to create your entry:
A: I met my entire team in college at New York University. I had worked with every one of the crew several times before on other various student films. It’s ideal to work with people you know really well because you develop a shorthand in communicating.
Parker Hill, Director, co-writer, editor and producer, New York, NY
Evan Ari Kelman, co-writer and producer, New York, NY
Jacob Baker, producer, New York, NY
Maria Rusche, Cinematographer, New York, NY
Andrew Corkin, executive producer, New York, NY
Bryan Reisberg, executive producer, New York, NY
James Newberry, Composer, New York, NY
Q: What do you find most interesting about making short films?
A: Short films are an entirely different beast than any other kind of storytelling. The more of them I make, the more I understand its unique form. You can suspend people in an idea, a moment, a feeling, a character, or a situation for five to ten minutes, and the audience will buy it because they want to see where you’re going to lead them. That being said, you can’t waste their time, not even for a frame. I find shorts incredibly challenging to write, but sometimes the most satisfying to watch.
Q: What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
A: One of our biggest challenges for this film was casting. It’s a baseball film, and I was adamant that our lead role of Andrew needed to be able to play baseball. I was auditioning so many actors who were very strong, but they couldn’t throw a ball. I knew that would take you out of the moment instantly. Fortunately, we found our fantastic lead, Monty Renfrow. He’s a very talented actor and he played baseball in high school. This was crucial for the authenticity of the
character. Not only because he can throw, but when you grow up playing sports, you understand how to communicate with a throw. You’ve probably had your most important conversations while tossing a ball. That really comes through in Monty’s performance.
Q: Is this the first time you’ve entered your work in a contest?
A: Yes. I’ve submitted to festivals before, but never a contest.
Q: How did you first get interested in filmmaking?
A: When I was in 6th grade, I got my first camcorder and I’ve been making movies ever since. Once I was in high school, I learned how to edit and that really propelled my interest in film.
Q: What does the AT&T Developer Program and contests like this mean to you?
A: The AT&T Developer Program is an incredible opportunity for an up-and-coming filmmaker like me. I’m incredibly grateful, and I’m excited that my film will have the chance to reach a larger audience. I love telling stories, and I want my work to reach as many people as possible.
Q: Who have been your biggest influencers in the film industry (directors, writers, teachers, etc.) and what have you learned from them?
A: Lynne Ramsey, Gregory Crewdson, Ang Lee, Aaron Sorkin, Raymond Carver, Steve
McQueen, and Diane Arbus, to name a few. I study photographers as much as I do filmmakers, and there are a few that have had a big impact on my growing visual style. I have a dear friend and mentor who’s had a big influence on my work, and one of the biggest lessons he’s given me is “don’t explain too much.”
Q: What advice do you have for new filmmakers just getting started in the field?
A: Have standards and keep practicing. Henri Cartier Bresson has said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
Q: What video technologies do you see shaping the future of film and content creation?
A: The technological landscape of our industry is constantly evolving, and it’s hard to say what will lead the way in 20 years. People thought 3D would be a game changer, and now VR is the hot topic. I’m honestly just excited about how accessible high-quality technology is to us smaller content creators. We can shoot no-budget short films on the highest quality cinema cameras, and that’s pretty incredible. I think access to this technology levels the playing field, and puts the biggest emphasis on story. That’s what I’m all about.
Q: What are your future plans for your project?
A: One Good Pitch has played at a few festivals so far, and after this time with AT&T, I plan to put the film online using a platform like Short of the Week or Film School Shorts.
Q: What do you hope to do with the prize money?
A: I’m gearing up to make another narrative short film very soon, and I hope to use the prize money to finance it.
AT&T Official Selection – One Good Pitch
Watch all the films and interviews with the filmmakers here.