X-Pollinator: ELEVATOR

Esosa Ighodaro wins Best Pitch as X-Pollinator: ELEVATOR concludes

X-Pollinator has now concluded its eight-week online development programme, ELEVATOR that supported twenty emerging and diverse female and non-binary writers and directors to meet the screen industry, build a network, develop their projects and become the inclusive leaders of the future.

Funded by Screen Skills Ireland, Screen Ireland and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), ELEVATOR supported a deeper range of under-represented and emerging voices who represent the brilliant and wide ranging multiplicities of Irish culture; and supported them in developing their networks and projects, and provided an access point to over thirty speakers from the screen industry.

Over the course of October and November, the ELEVATOR participants have gained a comprehensive understanding of the development process; that included an introductory session with diversity and inclusion consultant Adaku Ezeudo of PhoenixRize Consulting; a writing session with some of the writing team behind hit Irish TV series Smother; a directing session with Kate Dolan (You Are Not My Mother), Stacey Gregg (Here Before) and Runyararo Mapfumo (Sex Education); as well as a case study with production company Fable Pictures, the production company behind Rocks and Wild Rose which also featured Eve Hedderwick Turner, the creator/writer of Anne Boleyn.

The ELEVATOR participants then met with industry executives in roundtable discussions that included representatives from The Lisa Richards Agency, the WRAP Fund, Cork International Film Festival, Bankside Films, Other Parties, and BBC Film.

In addition, the ELEVATOR participants worked with pitch and public speaking consultant Bonnie Williams of Speaking with Impact, on their project pitches, kindly supported by Creative Europe Desk Ireland. Following this they did the ELEVATOR Pitch: presenting themselves and their projects to an industry panel that included director Frank Berry (Michael Inside), producer Siobhán Bourke (Hidden Assets) and Bonnie Williams.

After a competitive pitching session, the winning pitch was awarded to Esosa Ighodaro with her project Just Enough Chilli, with honourable mentions going to Caitlin Magnall-Kearns for her project Chris & Lou and Al Bellamy for their project Sculpt. Just Enough Chilli tells the story of Adesuwa, who is determined to launch a fine dining Nigerian restaurant in Dublin. The retirement plans of her mother as well as the security of her pregnant daughter’s future rely on the success of this risky venture.

Esosa Ighodaro will now be awarded development funding to write a treatment and have the support of a script editor, and a designer to create a pitch book for her project, while all other ELEVATOR participants will be provided with one script editor meeting to further shape the development of their projects. 

The ELEVATOR programme has been so well and thoughtfully curated. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the panels and the generosity of the panelists and the X-Pollinator team in not only sharing their experience and giving us a glimpse of the industry, but also attempting to hold doors open for us as well. I’m genuinely so grateful to have been a part of the X-Pollinator experience, incredibly thrilled to have won the prize and excited to get to develop my project further.

Esosa Ighodaro, ELEAVTOR Pitch Winner

Director Frank Berry noted that “the pitches were all genuinely fantastic and a testament to the talent and passion of the participants. It was so hard to pick a winner, but we felt Esosa Ighodaro’s pitch stood out on the day. Just Enough Chilli is a beautiful story of three Nigerian women on a road trip from Dublin to London, pitched by Esosa in a very moving and succinct way.”

The ELEVATOR programme concluded with a producers’ networking session, giving the ELEVATOR participants an opportunity to present themselves and their projects to a range of producers from production companies including Venom Films, Wild Atlantic Pictures, Tailored Films, Alfonso Films, Fantastic Films, Underground Films, Subotica Films, Samson Films and Pale Rebel Productions.

ELEVATOR was a success due to the great support of our funders, the time and generosity in sharing of all our panellists and advisors, but mostly because of our brilliant participants. Congratulations to Esosa on her winning pitch, but congratulations and thanks to all of the X-Pollinator: ELEVATOR class of 2021, your contributions, projects and pitches were all so unique, we are thrilled to have you as part of our network and can’t wait to see you, and your projects thrive.

Katie Holly, Lara Hickey, Evan Horan – X-Pollinator

ELEVATOR has addressed a real need in the industry for more diverse, emerging voices, and for those from underrepresented groups to receive support to develop their projects and build their networks. We have been delighted to support this programme and we look forward to seeing future work from these talented participants!

Gareth Lee, Skills Manager – Screen Ireland

The BAI would like to congratulate X-Pollinator and all those involved in the development and roll out of the ELEVATOR initiative. Programmes like ELEVATOR help promote a media landscape that is representative of, and accessible to, the diversity of Irish society by offering invaluable support and opportunities to under-represented groups working in the audio-visual industry. The BAI would also like to acknowledge all the participants who took part. The response to the initiative and selected finalists demonstrates the wealth of talent and creativity available in the sector. In particular the BAI congratulates Esosa Ighodaro for her successful winning pitch, Just Enough Chilli and wishes her the best of luck with the ongoing development of the project.

Celene Craig, Deputy Chief Executive – BAI