I was reading a thread the other day that was offering advice on how to write and pitch a documentary. Some of the advice given was, “if you’re really passionate about it, it’ll write itself”.
I’m curious about which writing program they’re using because in all my years of writing I’ve never had that happen.
Yes, things happen when you’re filming that you couldn’t possibly have thought up before, and they’re usually a hundred times better than anything you could have imagined, but you still need to know what your objective is before you’re shooting. And planning a documentary shoot or pitch is no different than planning what is going to happen on a Reality TV show.
If you’re going to try to sell something before it’s been created what do have to sell? The idea.
And in order to sell an idea you need to tell the potential buyer what the idea is. Whether it’s a TV show, a documentary, or a widget, you need to sell the buyer on what it is going to do.
You need to tell the buyer where we’re starting, where we’re ending up, and what is happening on the journey.
Think of the TV show “How It’s Made”. They show step by step how the manufacturers take the raw resources and turn them into a finished product. It’s a simple show but extremely well done. That is what your pitch plan needs to be.
We have these characters and they’re going to be doing these things and this is going to be the result.
When developing your show, whether it’s a doc or a Reality TV show, you know the unexpected will happen when you’re rolling, but it’s really difficult to sell the idea of those ‘maybes’ in a pitch. It’s a lot easier to sell facts.
And the fact is, when you’re creating a show and a pitch, it’s never going to write itself.