I have never attended a speed-dating event. The very idea has always seemed odd to me: an organised event to forge meaning relationship to other people. The format was a set of tables, a time limit and a number of people to impress the pants off. This wasn't an exercise in finding romantic love (thank god) it was about having informal pitching sessions to potential collaborators. With a bit of preparations, a few DOs & DON'Ts and a practiced pitch, I sat down at my designated table.

As I saw the first lot approaching I checked my palms for sweat before extending my hand for a handshake. I had to remind myself to smile and not launch into my pitch before they had a chance to sit down. I was suppose to start off with the basics, my name and background, but found myself waffling on a few sentences too many about the conceptual underpinning of my practice.

My job was to present the story, the basic setup, the genre and the overall potential for the project. I had carefully planted buzzwords into my pitch, but they left me forgetting key elements of the plot. When I realised my notes were left in my handbag under the table I was left with two options: to stop and dig them out or to continue and wing it. I decided on the latter, which is an approach I use for most aspects in my life.

Somehow the knowledge that I was without any backup made me relax and I could feel a natural smile forming as I was talking. Two out three faces looked pretty neutral but one of them was smiling back at me and that was enough. Then I accidentally said that thought that I was relevant (when I meant to say that the story was relevant in the context of the current pan-European debate on healthcare) and as a result of that the one smile I had going across the table had been replaced with a hint of a frown!

I reached the end of my rehearsed pitch and then it was time for the scariest moment of all: to hear if anyone had anything to say or ask. I had prepared a few things to say in an emergency but the prospect of silence was still pretty terrifying. Luckily the three women across from me launched into questions that I was equipped to answer. And then we got into the really interesting stuff; cinematic vision, film and directorial references, and the thing that brings us all to the same place: a love for cinema. 

Suddenly there was a sound of a bell horn (yes a real physical one) and was time for the next date. Time to exchange business card and quick handshakes before it was time to start the process all over again...

Cecilia Stenbom March 2015