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The Strength of the Pitch: Jodorowsky's Dune

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I was fortunate enough to catch a screening of Jodorowsky’s Dune, the documentary about visionary director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt to adapt the science fiction novel Dune) to the silver screen. Having seen a similar documentary about Terry Gilliam’s attempt at adapting Don Quixote, I consider myself a fan of the genre, despite its niche appeal.

One quick note before we go on. It looks like Jodorowsky’s Dune has hit Netflix on DVD, and seems a likely candidate to be available for streaming. So you can check it out for yourself to see if you agree with my take.


Jodorowsky looks back, with good-natured humor, on a massively overambitious project for its time. Aside from the amazing concept art and avant-garde stylings, I took away two messages from the documentary that I would like to share. The first deals with the art of pitching your ideas and the second with locating oneself in close to proximity to the best and the brightest potential collaborators.

Jodorowsky set out to create a huge book—more of a cinder block. It’s probably what we could call a design bible today, which would be delivered to production companies in order to secure funding. By creating a book of storyboards and character designs, Jodorowsky wanted to show that the project was large in scope but feasible, because it had been so intricately planned.

Jodorowsky reached out to a variety of concept artists to help with the design of the movie. To visual and technical artists, Jodorowsky made impassioned pitches, claiming that they would become “spiritual warriors” for their collective vision, and implored them to come live and work (for little or no pay) in Paris.

What stands out is the strength of Jodorowsky’s pitch. At a time when artists like Chris Foss, Moebius, and H.R. Giger were each becoming established in their own rights, Jodorowsky was able, through the sheer strength of an imagined story, to convince them to devote years of effort to the project. That takes a lot of gumption. It didn’t hurt that Jodorowsky had a strong track record of visually and thematically impressive avant-garde cinema. Even still, Jodorowsky is great at selling the idea, and that is something that game designers must do, to communicate ideas to others in order to capitalize on the individual talents and assemble a great team.


The second message I took away deals with putting yourself into the right place at the right time. It’s also about leveraging that placement to connect and collaborate.

The documentary showed a curious problem of the movie’s mid-Seventies inception. How do you find people to collaborate with, or even people at all, before the Internet?

The solution: go to Paris. That’s where all the intelligentsia congregate. This was more or less true for several hundred years before the Internet. If you want Salvador Dali in your movie, playing the Emperor of the Known Universe, go to Paris and you’ll probably run into Dali.

Now we all live in our decentralized temporary autonomous zones. But for as much as they can fragment, social media have the ability to connect disparate artists and thinkers.

I think that Twitter is a platform that serves as a modern Paris, for like-minded people to seek each other out and communicate. Go congregate with the intelligentsia and let your ideas speak for themselves. Hit me up on the proverbial tweets, and let me hear your ideas and pitches. I’m constantly working on mine—writing here, trying to refine my skills. Maybe we are both looking for the talents that we can provide.