If pitching on a commercial that's presenting “a collaboration between chicken nuggets and bluetooth speakers” sounds tough, you might want to check out the ridiculous flights-of-fancy taken in this enjoyable short.

Using his experience in creating treatments at PRETTYBIRD, Smuggler, Epoch and more as a springboard, writer/director Eno Freedman Brodmann has channelled all of his creativity (and frustrations) into the wonderfully constructed The Pitch, starring actress Lourdes Hernandez as his increasingly adaptable muse.

Jumping between genres, shooting-style and tone, the film, shot through Little Bear Studios, acts not only as a statement on the issues inherent in the current flow of production, but also gives Brodmann the opportunity to showcase some serious directorial skills in the process.

Whilst having the potential to be niche to this industry, Brodmann does a great job of creating an entertaining film that can be admired as much for its ever-changing aesthetics as its comment on the commercial scene.

We sat down with the writer/director to find out how he mined his experiences for the film's construction, and how it all came together in a tight, two-day shoot.

The Pitch

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What was the starting point for the short? 

The true genesis of The Pitch actually started in my final months working in-house doing treatments. My coworker and I would listen in on calls daily to the different jobs that came in and would smile at each other whenever an agency or director had a line that was just too good to be true. We would take these quotes and make fake treatment one-pagers and put them on a wall of fame to cover our desk area. It helped us keep the atmosphere light and see the fun amidst the storm. 

Beyond the humor, though, we had many freelance bidding producers sit near us, who would also work night and day with the EPs and race to get budgets in for the director’s ideas. Them, along with the directors would find out that our sprint to the finish line was then lost to another director or company and ultimately, I watched a lot of headphone throwing, heads in hands and bags under eyes at the struggle to ‘win’ a job. 

My coworker and I would listen in on calls daily to the different jobs that came in and would smile at each other whenever an agency or director had a line that was just too good to be true.

It struck a chord in my heart and I felt something forming that would comment on the backwardness of the ‘contest-driven’ industry while also have some laugh out loud moments of how clients and agencies tried to push their brand. 

The pitching process and 'dead jobs' are unspoken pains of the industry. How and why did you want to bring them to light?

An ad, in its final form, can come down to three-to-six second YouTube pre-roll or something on an Instagram scroll, which prays to be seen. 

I don’t think many viewers realize that for those few seconds on a little square on their iPhone, the creative army that had to go to battle and bleed for it, let alone all those who worked on sweat equity to pitch the job and see it evaporate. 

Some directors can lose 40-50+ pitches a year. Devastating. 

I want to bring light to the ‘contest’ industry because it’s a place where many of us give away free ideas, hoping to be seen. It also sparks the question, where do dead jobs go? Do they resurface into other ideas later on? Does the push to pitch and pitch without ‘winning’ ultimately leave us creatively bankrupt? I think it’s an issue worth discussing in our industry instead of just assuming it’s the culture and that’s how it should be. 

Some directors only pitch if they are a single bid, which I completely agree with. But sometimes you need to be on a certain ‘level’ to demand that. 

Above: Fashion photographer Jorge Grau shots a series of spoof stills, featuring Lourdes Hernandez, during the shoot.

The tone of the film is wonderfully cheeky and irreverent. How did you balance poking fun at the industry and its players whilst maintaining a clear affection for it?

My mother was always very deep and introspective in her work and life, and my father, was a satirical cartoonist. They both gave me a blend of wild comedy and also analyzing where the heart and emotions of an idea were. I think it’s something I strive for in my life and in my work, trying to integrate both the mindful and the weird fun. 

As the film makes fun of the different commercial styles throughout, I thought the ending could also poke fun at the PSA style of commercial. I love the commercials like Sandy Hook which would be very light and draw the viewer in, and then end up very serious as a PSA, making the viewer re-analyze everything they had just seen. 

Essentially we were making five or six different commercials, each with a different camera. Some was shot on SR3, some on Bolex, some on digital, and some on VHS.

Comedy is a very nice gateway to get people to open up. Once you’ve got them on your side, you can carefully flip the script to show them the true meaning. 

I also am really drawn to self-aware filmmaking, or not taking myself too seriously in the content. I think it allows for a more fun environment and at the end of the day we’re just trying to sell products like sneakers or glow in the dark vegan nuggets…it’s not brain surgery. 

The film reacts to the dialogue pretty rapidly, which we can imagine meant a hefty shot list. How was that constructed and what considerations did you need?

It was! God bless our DP Jeff Leeds Cohn for being so reactive, quick and zen. 

Since it was such a beast to tackle, we divided it up into sections which were each ‘look’. Essentially we were making five or six different commercials, each with a different camera. Some was shot on SR3, some on Bolex, some on digital, and some on VHS. We wanted to spoof all the trends of artistic commercials so many of these shots were personal variations on actual shots that existed in other ads. 

We needed to adapt it to our budget, which was pennies, and be creative with what we had; a lot of outdoor light, friends apartments, and cool mirrors and light sticks to give the illusion of a big-budget ad. 

It was Covid too, so it required a nimble crew that could work at light speed changing out cameras. 

A fun story is that the whole mixed-media sequence where they talk about static being digital breadcrumbs and hitting the camera wasn’t intended. I had our actress, Lourdes Hernandez, hit the VHS camera away and she hit it hard which ruined the tape. The footage was all static-like, so we had to change the VO to make it look like it was intentional.

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How was the shoot? What was involved?

We had two 12 hour days to do everything: tons of locations, 5 cameras, many different style looks and a whole film stills portion shot by my friend Jorge Grau, who is a wonderful fashion photographer. 

We wanted to make it a full fake campaign and treat it like a real shoot. All of us on set were pretty much friends and happy to be making something that poked fun at our day jobs, so honestly, it was laughing the whole weekend. 

The pace was insanely quick but I think the producer, Gon Tarragona, DP and I had the concept so tightly in our heads and also knew that any change could birth new comedic fun. 

Did you come across any issues on the shoot? How were they resolved?

There’s a shot where the camera is inside of the chicken nugget box and she reaches in to pull it out. The rig we had before the shoot was too small and didn’t work, so we needed to rebuild it on set, meaning little time left at the location. 

The pace was insanely quick but I think the producer, Gon Tarragona, DP and I had the concept so tightly in our heads and also knew that any change could birth new comedic fun. 

It also set us back a bit from our other locations where outdoor light was needed for the shot before it became dusk. We had to sprint to the next location and fire our shots off like a machine-gun to make it to our last location in time. The speed and pressure, while uncomfortable, really forced me to know exactly what was needed and to communicate it as clear as possible as we couldn’t even do more than one take sometimes. 

It was a great learning experience. 

The edit is vital for a piece like this. How did you work on its construction?

I knew the edit was crucial for this and decided to go with a masterful stylized fashion editor I was connected to, Kat Yi, who knew how to make projects really sing and look ‘cool’. 

She totally got the humor and added her special sauce to it. I wanted her to make fun of her own editing style too. We started by giving Kat the entire voiceover session with the actors which was about two hours long. I then made some notes on my favorite moments and overall and she cut it down to about ten minutes. 

With all of my notes on the footage and references which were hyper-specific, she cut a 10-minute version of the footage to the voiceover. I realized that some shots would be even funnier with the voiceover talking about exactly what we filmed, which deviated slightly from the original script. 

She added in our second round of voiceover snippets and we started to fitness it. After that came the VFX portion and a wonderful color grade by Mikey Pehanich over at Blacksmith, who has been a great supporter of my work. 

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You don't have to name names, but what was the worst pitch you were involved in, back in the day?

There are….many. 

One, in particular, was for a big brand, with almost no direction from the directors. They signed me on to help with the pitch and they needed about 150 pages of treatment, each on a different deliverable. So we had one page on a 360 camera for Instagram, then one page for the social banners of FaceBook, and it would not end. The client needed the entire thing completely typed out, which I understand because the treatment is basically a contract. But, the director (or the good ones at least) give some type of framework and guidance on what they wanted. 

They kept turning to me and asking what do we do? What are cool ways we could do these ideas? I felt like I was getting asked to do their job for them and even design the whole pitch deck, only to sign it with their name and then go back to my treatment designing life. 

Also, I can’t believe to this day how many fluffy buzz words are thrown around which in the end, are just smoke instead of talking about the real idea. I yearn for the day we can just all talk simply and confidently about the idea at hand and develop the creative from the inside out instead of the outside in with references etc. There’s so much fun and potential in this commercial world, and again, MANY agencies and directors absolutely crush it and are so talented and visionary. 

This is just from my experience. 

What's up next for you?

I’m working on more self-aware comedy ads and branded content pieces for some companies and a deep comedy series with some of my film friends! Also…doing treatments from time to time in between directing gigs and reading the Glossary of Buzz Words on Amazon which I recommend everyone in the directing world buys.