Here are a few tips that will ensure a more enticing pitch.
Things to keep in mind before you pitch
There are a few checks that are always worthwhile before you pitch your story ideas:
- Make sure a similar video hasn’t been done before.
- Try to say what the story is about in one sentence and have a good sense about the best way to show that focus visually.
- Propose the idea to colleagues or friends first. Are they intrigued or surprised? If not, perhaps you should look for another angle. If so, you may have a great story on your hands.
Choosing a Headline
The headline may change once you start producing your story, but writing one in your pitch helps you focus on your target audience. What elements make your story stand out? You can choose to make your title more like a news story headline or similar to a feature documentary film title. Either way, you need to be confident that your final video will back it up.
- Example 1: “Indonesia’s Youngest Fashion Designer Overcomes Hearing Disability” (more like a news headline)
- Example 2: “The Life of a Coca Leaf” (more like a movie title)
Writing the Summary
Write one or two sentences that summarize why your story is surprising and interesting for a broad audience (this is sometimes referred to as a nut graph or focus statement). Please include a short description of the main character and why you’re focusing on him/her, a verb that best describes the universal theme of the story, and any conflict the protagonist faces. The summary should clearly define the “scope”, or range of topics or concepts you will cover in the story. You should be confident that you can show the scope visually, either through footage or interviews.
- Example 1: “Ten-year-old Rafi Ridwan (character) overcame (verb/universal theme) being born deaf (conflict) and channels his visual creativity to become one of Indonesia's youngest fashion designers (the surprise). He’s also an adorable kid who doesn’t stop smiling.”
- Example 2: “While the world focuses on international peace talks between the Colombian government and narcotics-financed rebel groups, we will focus on how entrenched the cocaine industry is in a remote villages inside the Colombian jungle. The focus will be on the people intimately involved in the cultivation and processing of the coca leaf.”
Describing Your Characters
Here, you should focus on what you plan to film your character doing. For a great video, it’s imperative to have elements that move and make noise. What visuals are most important to show the story you’re trying to tell? These visuals should also back up the story's main points highlighted in your summary.
- Example 1: “We will show Rafi drawing colorful clothing designs at his home with his mother, who we will also interview. He doesn’t speak very well, but we will show him communicating with his mother. We’ll shoot him at his own fashion show and capture images of the models, who are all children with disabilities.”
- Example 2: “We will take the viewer on an adventure: first we will see a young boy picking coca with his hand, then we will document a man who pours household chemicals on the leaf and grinds it into cocaine paste with his hand, then we will finish with the young boy selling his harvest to the shopkeeper.
Be realistic with your pitches. Don't promise access to something that is highly improbable. Make the phone calls, meet the characters and construct a plan before you submit your idea. This will lead to a better pitch, and maybe, a different and more interesting story.