Second Annual Feature Film Pitch Night: Six Semi-Finalists Pitch Their Stories for Production

October 20, 2022

JPCatholic’s campus community gathered on Saturday evening for the second annual Feature Film Pitch Night. Over the past several months, students and alumni submitted over 50 stories to be produced as the second project in JPCatholic’s Feature Film Program. This weekend, six of those projects were pitched to a live audience, along with a panel of film professionals including Prof. George Simon, Prof. Bill Marsilii, and Courtney Balaker.

Each participant spent about five minutes pitching their story’s logline, describing the main characters and their conflict, giving a brief synopsis of the plot, mentioning comparable films in the genre, describing the film’s ideal market, and explaining why the film is producible on an indie budget at JPCatholic. Each pitch was then given immediate feedback from the panel.

“Pitching for the Feature Film Program was one of the most nerve-wracking, exciting, and valuable experiences that I've had the honor of partaking in here at JPCatholic,” said creative writing senior Anna McKellar, who pitched Collision Course. “I am so thankful to Professor Simon and the committee for giving me this opportunity!”

Junior film student Peter Gonzalez said, “It was such a cool experience to share My Imaginary Cowboy with everyone. I was definitely a little nervous going in, but to see and hear the reactions from everyone really gave me more excitement and motivation for the story.”

Prof. George Simon, Chair of Communications Media, is spearheading JPCatholic’s Feature Film Program. He announced the program last year as a way to integrate feature film productions into the curriculum, providing students the opportunity to collaborate with alumni and professors each year in bringing a new film to life.

The program’s first film O, Brawling Love! was filmed this June in Escondido and the surrounding area, with over fifty students involved in production. The project has reached its marketing and distribution phase, which is integrated into a class Prof. Jeff Deverett is teaching this quarter. Deverett’s extensive career in film and television spans both the business and creative sides of the industry, and he has managed iconic kids brands like Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine. Over the past decade, he financed, produced and/or directed seven feature films which he self-distributed worldwide.

Prof. Bill Marsilii, one of the panelists on Saturday evening, is a screenwriter best known for Deja Vu, starring Denzel Washington. Guest panelist Courtney Balaker is a writer and director best known for Little Pink House, starring Catherine Keener.

Faculty are expected to greenlight one project by mid-November. Below are the contenders pitched at the event.

JD Martin and Rosemary Bailey Presenting Limelight


JD Martin (‘21) and Rosemary Bailey (‘21)
After being released from rehab, a washed-up former child star who has spent his entire life grasping for fame decides to take a new approach: hiring a camera crew to document every step of his recovery.

Timothy Johnson and Anna Engel Presenting Frankie Diller

Frankie Diller's Last Con

Timothy Johnson (‘24) and Anna Engel (‘24)
After pretending to be a psychic, a young con man must make his predictions come true.

Philomena Pilon Presenting Skiing in Vermont

Skiing in Vermont

Philomena Pilon (‘23)
A young man’s meticulous plan to commit suicide is thrown off by a stray dog who convinces him to fulfill a broken childhood promise before he dies.

Peter Gonzalez Presenting My Imaginary Cowboy

My Imaginary Cowboy

Peter Gonzalez (‘24)
A week before his 30th birthday, a young man’s mediocre life is turned upside down by the arrival of Cowboy Pete, his childhood imaginary friend.

Anna McKellar Presenting Collision Course

Collision Course

Anna McKellar (‘23)
When scientists discover an asteroid will soon destroy the Earth, an 18-year-old highschool couple marry each other. But then the Earth survives…

Ryan Thie and Cian Magner Presenting Turf Wars

Turf Wars

Ryan Thie and Cian Magner (‘21)
A family who runs their lawn mowing business like the mafia must contend with a new competitor in town.