Producer Jade Alexander and her top tips for pitching your script
Jade Alexander, Producer and Actress, set up Little Jade Productions in 2008 to work with new and upcoming talent, particularly in the sci-fi, fantasy and action genre. In addition to her work on features, shorts and even theatre, Jade is also a Musician – so we are lucky she has found time to speak to us here at Exit 6.
Hi Jade, thanks for talking to us. Let’s start at the beginning – how did you get involved with producing films?
Actually I just fell into it! I was chatting to a couple of friends at a party mentioning that I’d love to play a really dark sadistic character, and my friend Renee, another actress was saying she’d love to play a psychologically unbalanced character, and Shane, a director mentioned he’d love to work on something like that and boom – I realised we could collaborate and make something really fun. That ended up being my first short film, The Birds, and since then I’ve found myself falling into other projects and suddenly I realised one day I was a producer!
Can you give us a brief day-in-the-life of a producer- if there is such a thing as an average day?
My average day will be either working in Soho/East London production offices or my home office – depends if I’m on a commercial project or on a feature. Coffee is always first, (the producers friend!) then settling into emails, negotiating contracts, booking crew, balancing budgets and so forth. I’ll be on the phone a lot to rental houses, crew, directors, as a lot of it is behind the laptop. However, I do try to get out and have meetings, and auditions during the day, you’ll probably catch me working on my laptop on the tube just trying to get everything done. Usually I try to finish up around 7pm then off to industry events as I love to meet new people and hear about other projects. However sometimes my projects are pretty crazy so it can be head down and working 24/7 for several weeks until it’s 'in the can'!
Where do you tend to find most of your projects and aspiring film makers – do you have a set criteria on what to look for, or do you like to be surprised?
My passion for film stems from creating exciting worlds, interesting characters and great stories that just need to be shared. I realised many years ago I love having creative input and shaping the project. So now I devote my time to developing my own projects, and collaborating with talented people. At the moment I’m working with Thembisa Cochrane developing a post apocalyptic sci-fi feature film, that is female led and female driven – very exciting times! Film is by its very nature, a collaboration of many people – so there is always a give and take, which makes the final result surprising!
Also, to answer your other question, I look for aspiring, passionate people who have a good story to tell, or want to collaborate on an idea. Its surprisingly difficult to find the right people, so I do urge people to get in contact if they have a great script and idea. BUT, please please before you get in contact with anyone or any company do your research! What does that company make, why are they a good fit for your project, who are you addressing it to? Simple basic things that will get your script read and your proposal heard by the right people!
A few years back, when I was just starting out, I pitched to you at the London Screenwriter Festival and in all honestly, I made plenty of rookie mistakes! What advice would you give to people pitching a project, and do you pick up many projects at events such as these?
Ha ha! You were fine and the fact you did it is to your credit. I think Pitchfest is awesome, you get some AMAZING people in the room and you are able to pitch anything to them! You’re so lucky!
Here are my top tips:
Know your project – what is the genre, the audience, the story – who will it fit?
Know the person you want to pitch to – what does their company make? I mean I get pitched modern day romances, historical dramas and documentaries – however I’m sci-fi / fantasy which is on all the forms / sheets and emails. So, make sure you know that the person you’re pitching to is making films like your project!
Keep it chill – it’s just a chat. Yes, it’s timed so you get nervous and that’s totally fine. But remember you’re just chatting to someone. I want to hear your story, and want to hear what you’re passionate about and who you are. I’m thinking can I work with you for 12 months? Can we get along? Are you a normal human being? So, have a conversation, open with a pitch line then just chat about it.
Know your story – yes this is kind of a repeat but the number of people who cannot summarise their film is staggering. Even if you have to look at your notes, just tell me the story and why you love it! Passion sells everything. If you are excited about your story, I’ll get excited!
A lot of people who come to the Exit 6 Film Festival are just getting started in the industry and showing their talent through their short films. What advice can you give new film makers trying to break through?
Be passionate, experiment, collaborate – remember we don’t create in a vacuum, be willing to make compromises for the sake of collaboration.
Finally a practical tip – who is your audience? Be specific.
You are also an actor and musician, can you tell us a little bit about these areas of your career?
I trained as an actor years ago (did 4 years at drama school) and also have been acting since I was a child. I love getting lost in a new character, finding their story and working with a great team. It’s such a joy to bring characters to life, I still do and love to produce and then act in the project and essentially bring it to life!
I’ve also played violin, viola, piano and sung throughout my life – almost really had a different path as a musician but my love of stories overpowered my love of music! These days I do incorporate my music into various productions but I’m also happy to keep it as a sideline.
Exit 6 is a short film festival and I know you have acted in and produced some shorts – do you think this is a great way to get yourself noticed and show people what you can do?
Absolutely, I don’t know anyone in this industry who hasn’t started in short films. Short films are your training ground, a great way to learn, experiment and grow. Many amazing directors, actors, creatives at the pinnacle of their careers will still do a short film to test a concept, test equipment, mess around. I think they are really important to show people what you can on a limited scope.
Following on from that, how do you find financial backers to get the projects off the ground?
What a great question – if you know can you tell me?! Usually there is a LOT of groundwork to do before I can get anyone on board. Script synopsis, treatment, full script sometimes, mood boards, proposal all so I can approach the right people and demonstrate what kind of project they’ll be backing. Sadly development money is not easy to obtain, so we have to rely on goodwill and passion to get projects off the ground and into some shape before we can get money for them!
Are you allowed to tell us about any projects that you have coming out soon or are particularly excited about?
Yes I’m very excited about my latest project FORTRESS EARTH. A female led and female driven sci-fi that is now in development. It's set in the near future, an ordinary woman deported for identity fraud must find a way to prove her innocence before the hacker hunting her can erase all traces of her existence. We are working with AMP Films and hoping to start production in 2018!
You can follow Jade on Twitter at: @LittleGreenJade
You can find out more about Jade at her website.
You can find out more about Little Jade Productions here.