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Hot Docs Jots

Connect with Decision Makers at Deal Maker 2018

What is Hot Docs Deal Maker?

Hot Docs Deal Maker arranges over 700 one-on-one meetings between 40 selected projects and top decision makers from over 65 international broadcasters or funders at Hot Docs Festival.

Deal Maker looks for projects of all genres that are in late development or production. Of course, we love great social issue and POV docs, but we are also looking for high art and culture, as well as smart science and history programs. The ideal Deal Maker project has wide international appeal, creative storytelling and great characters, plus a solid production team. We accept projects of all formats, including series and cross-platform work. This year, Deal Maker runs from May 1-3, 2018.

All 19 selected Forum projects are also automatically enrolled in Deal Maker, meaning that selected Forum pitch teams have guaranteed pre-scheduled meetings with attending decision makers. To learn more about the Hot Docs Forum see our blog post.

See a list of all the broadcasters and funders who participated in Deal Maker last year.

What can Deal Maker do for my project?

Our curated program puts projects in front of the world’s leading commissioning editors, film funds and foundations. The buyers who attend Deal Maker pre-buy, commission, co-produce, acquire or grant funds to high quality documentary projects.

Unlike other documentary markets, our flagship meeting program for projects in development and production is focused solely on matching producers with broadcasters and grantors. Hot Docs has a separate program that matches rough cut and completed projects with sales agents and distributors, called Distribution Rendezvous (please note: a project cannot take part in both Deal Maker and Distribution Rendezvous in the same year).

Many teams secure direct funding from the connections developed at Deal Maker, either in the moment or the following months. Not all projects are right or ready for the type of exposure the Forum offers, and Deal Maker provides a private and candid environment for producers and buyers to develop a working relationship for both current and future projects. Broadcaster platforms appreciate this meeting style as well, and last year commissioning editors from Netflix and Amazon took their meetings solely at Deal Maker.

Hot Docs is also North American’s largest documentary market, and provides access to 67% North American buyers, a larger percentage of American buyers than any other comparable market.  

Producer Rachel Hooper, head of development for Erica Starling Films in Northern Ireland, had this to say about pitching two projects (rare, but possible!) at Deal Maker in 2017: 

"From a European perspective, Hot Docs offers us access to the North American market in an environment that feels very grown up...you’re able to have conversations with buyers that are really all about the film and that don’t feel rushed or terrifying! The experience helped us hone both projects, and to see where we needed to put in more work and where the projects really worked. It helped us to work out a strategy to move to the next stage of funding. Apart from being totally EXHAUSTING it was an opportunity to make incredibly useful and important connections with people from all parts of the industry."


What happens if I am selected? What is the meeting curation process like?

A selection committee of international producers, buyers and sales agents helps us select the 40 Deal Maker projects Deal Maker based on the following:

  • Exceptionally compelling, exclusive and illuminating material
  • Brilliant storytelling
  • Creative and exemplary craft
  • Commercial and international appeal
  • Suitability for decision makers' mandates and key requirements, and relevance to broadcast channels and slots

Once selected, the projects make a list of the attending decision makers they wish to meet. Buyers then accept meetings with 10-20 projects. The Hot Docs team does additional match-making for both producers and decision makers, based on who maybe a good match. 

Tips for Your Application

1. In the synopsis portion of our application, please remember to include the following information:

  • Clearly answer: "What's on screen for 90 minutes?"
  • Articulate the international, universal or human appeal of the story.
  • Differentiate your story/doc's unique value compared to other films on the same topic or subject. 

2. In the Status Report portion of your application, we are looking for:

  • A brief description of rights.
  • Confirmed access to interview subjects.
  • Partnerships/financing confirmed and pending.

3. A trailer is not mandatory to complete your application, but is highly recommended. In lieu of a trailer, please provide research/development footage, or an example of previous work.

To learn more about what is required on your application see HERE.

How Do I Apply? 

Submissions Open: January 25, 2018
Submissions Close: February 22, 2018

Please note that all applicants must be registered with an All-Access Pass to apply. We recommended that you register for Hot Docs before the February 22 deadline, as it may take 1-2 days to process your registration.

Once registered for Hot Docs, you will receive an email welcoming you to the Online Community. The Online Community is your portal to apply to Deal Maker, and to contact other attendees, sign up for workshops and apply to Distribution Rendezvous.

Deal Maker applicants will receive notification regarding their acceptance no later than April 1, 2018. 

See you at Hot Docs 2018!

- Madelaine Russo

Madelaine is an industry programmer and produces Deal Maker, the Hot Docs Guide to Decision Makers, Hot Docs Pitch In and the Hot Docs Jots blog. You can find her on twitter @thisismadr

With over 175 contacts and vital information about the international broadcast and digital players, the Hot Docs Guide to Decision Makers is an invaluable resource for any producer. Find our 2017 guide on sale here.


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