Liberating ideas

Shoot – Justin Pollard on making an effective crowdfunding pitch video

Perhaps the most daunting part of setting up any crowd-funding project is planning and shooting the now ubiquitous pitch video. Authors, inventors, entrepreneurs and artist are now required to pitch a compelling, novel and hopefully viral video lasting something under three minutes. This is the sort of work that advertising agencies used to do and which cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Crowd-funders are lucky to have any budget at all so it’s a tall order and it’s why at Unbound we have a dedicated production team to make these.

But there are some simple rules that can help anyone make a compelling film, without having to call in Saatchi and Saatchi.


  1. Think about what style do film you’d like to make. Pitches often work best when you talk straight to camera. You’re asking people for money so you should have the nerve to look them in the eye. If you are less confident you could shoot the piece as an interview where someone asked you questions about the projects. If you do this try to repeat the question at the beginning of your answer, then you can cut the question out. Remember we want as much of you and as little of the interviewer as possible. If you don’t want to appear on camera at all you could simply voice over your pitch and show stills or footage to make your case.
  2. Write a script. You don’t have to keep to this word for word but by writing down what you want to say you’ll clarify your thoughts in your own head and be able to edit those down. Try this out on a friend to see if you’re being absolutely clear.
  3. Don’t waffle. We just want the basic idea and the highlights.
  4. Don’t worry about remembering lots of lines. You can shoot in small sections. Try filming from two angles or zooming in between shots to cover the cuts. There are also free TelePrompter apps for the iPad that you could try.
  5. Hit the ground running. Your audience will decide whether to watch the full three minutes within the first ten seconds so the first part of your pitch is pitching to keep them watching.
  6. Finish with a call to arms. Pitch videos are dynamic requests for assistance. Don’t be shy – let your audience know what you want as the final thought they take away from your film.


  1. Find a location to shoot. You’ll need somewhere relatively quiet as the audience will switch off if they can’t hear you properly. You should also think about lighting. Don’t chose somewhere gloomy unless you have lights and remember that in the early morning and late evening the light levels will change quickly which can make the piece tricky to cut. If you want to shoot outside remember it might rain – have in mind somewhere undercover as well in case it does. Remember you may need to ask permission if a location is not somewhere you own. If you’re shooting other people or in someone else’s location remember you may need them to sign a release to allow you to use their image or location.
  2. Don’t worry about having lots of kit. We use a Canon5D mkIII but a smartphone can make a perfectly good pitch video. Do try to make sure the camera is secured however, ideally on a tripod but just wedged against some books will do.
  3. Add a bit of variety. However lovely you look, the audience might like to look at something else once in a while. Think about if there are any still images or footage you could use to help your pitch. Again remember that commercial material needs licensing. If you’re using stills consider using a move to make them more dynamic.
  4. Add clear bumpers. At the beginning and the end of the pitch you need a card that says what the project is and who you are. Remember people sharing this video by email might not see all the other material on your pitch page so it needs to be self-contained.
  5. Involve your friends. Even if you don’t have all the filmmaking skills yourself, you’ll probably find them all amongst your friends. That’s how many filmmakers start out. People who have helped make the film are also more likely to tell the world about your crowd-funding project when it goes live.

Finally, remember sometimes the most effective videos are the simplest. It’s a simple as that.