A new way to bypass the pitching process

Director Ruari Robinson wanted to make a movie, but he didn't want to pitch. What he did next may change the movie business forever...

Pitching a movie has traditionally involved long meetings, endless waits and a lot of sucking up to studio suits. But it seems there's a brand new way to get your project green-lit: simply create your own teaser trailer and share it on social media.

That's exactly what Irish filmmaker Ruairi Robinson did, releasing a concept teaser for his proposed sci-fi epic The Leviathan (above). Soon it went viral – and Hollywood came knocking.

The Leviathan is now on course to become a major Fox movie, written by Simon Kinberg and executive-produced by District 9's Neill Blomkamp. We chatted to Robinson about how it all happened...

What gave you the idea to produce a trailer before your idea had been green-lit?

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Robinson made the trailer for Leviathan before the film had been green-lit

I hate pitching so much that I'd rather spend a year killing myself to make a presentation where my "pitch" consists of pressing the play button, than talk about a project for 15 minutes in front of an audience of more than one person.

On a more serious-ish note, I wanted to plant a flag to say this is what the movie should look like, this is what I want the movie to feel like. This is the story I want to tell with the writer – with as few cooks in the mix as possible to avoid some of the traps of development I've experienced before.

Sometimes you never get to bake the version you want before the political winds blow and those with spines made of gelatin waver in the first gentle breeze. It's no fun and not something I wish to repeat if I can avoid it.

Where did you start?

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Robinson worked on the concept with Fight Club screenwriter Jim Uhls

I connected with Jim Uhls (screenwriter of Fight Club) I'm such a huge huge fan of that movie and his script. I showed him a book of concept art I'd put together - and we both agreed to work in parallel on spec - he's do the script and I'd do the presentation, and along the way trade updates.

It's a cool process because you can just dive into the story in a very pure way without worrying about budgets or egos or politics. Also it's easier to convince other people to give up their time when you are showing you have committed everything yourself. So I guess I need to apologize to my girlfriend for being absent so much. (Hi Jess!)

How did you fund the trailer?

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Almost everyone got paid a small fee

I got a small amount of money (relatively speaking) from The Irish Film Board that meant I could pay everyone or almost everyone a small fee. I tried to pay everyone I could. A few people still pitched in with favours so that helped a lot too. Blur Studios (and Tim Miller in particular) helped out a huge amount by letting me work in their offices and render on their farm when it wasn't crunch time. I was surrounded by artists there, and got some great technical advice.

Ryan Stafford, VFX producer on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, got me access to mocap for free so we brought on an actor friend for a half day and did it all in Ryan's back garden.

NEXT: How the creature was designed...

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3D