Story and Aesthetics
Once you get past the basic informational pages about your production, you are going to be getting right in to the basic information about the project’s story. The fourth page should be used to identify story and aesthetic elements that you will focus on. You should list what kind of visuals, both video and photo, that you will use to colorfully illustrate the story. Discuss what type of sound and music you will capture to add to the project. List locations where you will shoot and styles you will use for field and interview recordings. Include story elements, character elements, and specific plot elements. All of these will help you narrow down what you would like to focus on in your project and show to the executives that you have a clear vision for your digital video project.
The final list page of your company book should include a ballpark budget, including outside funding if you will need it. Put a tentative, “bare bones,” production schedule so they can see what kind of timeframe they will be dealing with. Without this part they will reject your proposal immediately or take an excessive amount of control over your production.
The best thing to add to the company book is an extra story description, running no more than two pages. In this you can be more creative and descriptive than you have been in previous sections of the book, but include a “hook” paragraph at the beginning that is intended to draw the reader in. Progress through all aspects of the story, and make sure to always maintain a story arc. Treat this like a very quick creative writing piece that could stand alone as a piece of short literature. This is the Treatment, and you will use it to guide your scripting and story planning for the rest of the production.
Resume and Bio
Make sure to include a resume and short biographical paragraph for every person that is in your production team. These will go in the back of the book and are important for them to have a record of who you say you are and what you have done. Make sure to have a photo or “head shot” on your resume so they can quickly identify who you are even if they forget your name. This will help to cement you into their minds later on.
Once you have completed the company book you have one of the most important parts of this process complete. You must begin to prepare the presentation you will give, which is usually between five to ten minutes. In pitching sessions it is always better to run shorter than longer, mostly because it is believed that if you cannot communicate your vision quickly then you do not know what it is. On most circumstances you will not be able to use supplementary materials, like a Power Point slideshow or other visuals, so you will have to describe the project in depth. Make copies of the company book for all of the executives in the room, and one for you to follow along. If you have key points to make about the story you may want to put those on a separate sheet of paper or a short series of note cards. You are going to want to be able to talk smoothly so it is advisable to know everything in your company book by memory and have the project fairly well nailed down. Try your best not to falter when doing your speech, but do not let a little fumble mess up your rhythm too much. When delivering this think about a commercial news anchor, which looks forward most of the time but occasionally glances down at some paper. They do this so that they do not have a strange amount of direct eye staring, which can be uncomfortable for the audience. Remember to do the same thing when you are delivering your presentation. Look down at your notes or company book every so often so that the speech looks more spontaneous and you are not locking eyes with them for the entire discussion. If you are pitching to several people make sure to give equal eye contact to each person. If none of them are making eye contact because they are taking notes then use this as an opportunity to check your notes and company book more closely.