21/01/22 • News & Happenings

Short Film Programme: From Pitch to Development

Featuring Paula, Polly and Matias

Back to Spotlight

Paula Poveda-Urrutia, Letters to Dad

When we first announced our in-house short film programme, almost 70 crew members registered to take part. Following a series of pitch development workshops with Barbara Slade (Hi Opie; Rugrats; Dead Gorgeous), 25 artists constructed and presented pitches. After much careful consideration, we shortlisted three concepts to take forward for further development.

Fast forward a few months – and a lot of hard work – and our finalists have been busy refining their ideas to pitch one last time, before one of their ideas gets greenlit for production right here at Lighthouse. It’s an exciting time, not just for our finalists but for our whole crew, and the chosen piece will represent the very first of our productions to be conceived, developed and produced entirely in-house.

With the final decision due to be announced shortly, we thought we’d drop in on our three short-film finalists.

Polly Holland is an animator who joined us in 2020 as part of our Graduate Traineeship with ScreenSkills Ireland. Since then, she has been working on several productions, including Apple TV’s El Deafo, which debuted on the streaming site in January to critical acclaim. This is the first time she has ever pitched an idea outside of the college environment. The working title of her concept is Pog mo Pigeon.

Matias Poggini has been working in the animation industry for a number of years, with experience gained in studios across the world – including Argentina and Denmark. Although his idea has existed in his head for some time now, this is the first opportunity he has had to really explore it. The working title of his concept is Change of Tempo.

Paula Poveda-Urrutia is a line producer with extensive experience setting up animation pipelines and producing short and long format projects for international broadcasters such as Sky, Nickelodeon, BBC, YLE and ZDF. The working title of her concept is Letters to Dad.

Polly Holland, Pog mo Pigeon

LHS: Congratulations on being selected as our three finalists! What have you been getting up to since your concepts were chosen?


Polly: Since the initial pitch I have been working on developing the story. My idea has generally stayed the same – apart from one of the characters who needed a lot of development to make them less of a one-dimensional villain.

Paula: My film has changed a bit from pitch to development. When I pitched it, it was written as a story that happens to a character loosely based on myself; now the story is much closer to my experience, which is a bit terrifying, but exciting nonetheless. The tone of the film has also changed – I think it feels more mature and closer to a docudrama piece than a fictional piece. I am very happy with the work we have done so far and all the support I’ve had in the process.

Matias: My idea hasn’t changed a lot on the surface but has developed a lot in regard to the character’s motivations, feelings and actions. I have been working out what emotions I wanted to highlight and how to arrive to them.

Matias Poggini, Change of Tempo

LHS: When it came to putting together that initial pitch, where did you start?


Matias: I had already many of the starting points covered, like the basic plot, and some style references. So, I put on some tango music and started doing some sketches to immerse myself in the universe of the film.

Polly: I started by drawing some rough designs for the characters. It helped me see their personalities better and how they’d interact with each other and carry the story along.

Paula: Ok- so this is the part I am not proud of: I put the pitch together on the week of the deadline. A couple of months before the creative call, we had a Pitch Development Masterclass with Barbara Slade, who gave us very good notes on how to put a pitch together. I felt confident in the story but not so confident in putting together the visuals. Even though I had an idea on the visual style of the film, drawing is not my strength, so instead of trying to sketch, I searched for images from films, books and from my fellow LH artists that fitted with what I had in mind and compiled them in three very loose mood boards that helped me explain what I wanted to achieve visually. On that Friday evening (day of the deadline) I sat down to write the pitch document. I wish I had dedicated much more time to it. When you have an idea you love, you owe it to the idea to do it justice! But life has been tricky for all of us lately so I did the best I could with the time and the energy levels I had.

LHS: After presenting your pitches, and having your concepts chosen, you moved into the development process working with renowned script consultant, Jerrica Cleland. What were you expecting from the process?


Paula: No idea! Having worked in production for many years, I have seen very different ways on how people approach the development process, so I came in with a very open mind and very eager to find out what the producers were going to put on my plate. Throughout the whole writing process, I had a little devil on my shoulder telling me ‘this is never going to be a film, it is too underdeveloped and there is not enough time for you to get something out of this’. Luckily I had my amazing producer, Aninka,(Badenhorst, line producer at Lighthouse Studios) telling me: ‘everyone’s process is different so don’t get worked up about it’.  I decided to listen to Aninka and I am glad I did. Those assignments that Jericca asked for gave us an awful lot of material to use to shape the story, characters and plotlines. It was a beautiful experience to see how it all came together in the end.

Matias: I was expecting to delve a lot further into the storyboard and the visual aspects. Instead, it was more of an introspective exploration of the meaning of the film. Throughout the process we had meetings with Jerrica, and I also had weekly meetings with my producers, Emily and Aninka.

LHS: What would it mean if your films were chosen to be produced here at LHS?


Paula: It would have meant a lot as I absolutely loved the process and the opportunity of telling my story, but unfortunately, life is taking me away from Ireland and Lighthouse Studios. With that said, I am definitely looking forward to seeing which short film makes it into production as I think they are both absolutely great!

Matias: Throughout the process, I have learned that it seems like I have good instincts regarding storytelling, but I need more practice and confidence. If my film is chosen it would mean I have a great chance to prove myself as a storyteller, and to make this short film in its best version possible.

Polly: I’d be absolutely delighted as its important to me to keep the Irish culture of storytelling going through different mediums such as animation, as well as being able to tell stories from my local area that have history and meaning and that can be applied to today’s culture.




Whose concept will be chosen for production? Stay ‘tooned’ to find out very soon!

Back to Spotlight