I recently conducted a pitching session. There were about 25 people at the workshop and it struck me how important it is to have a connection – a personal, heart felt connection with the story that you are pitching. Twenty five people doing 3 minute pitches is a lot to remember. What I find interesting and affirming is that the people who were personally involved in their story still stand out in my mind 4 days later.
For instance, a young woman was talking about a drama she wanted to do about a homeless man she had encountered. Her story sprang to life when she said her mother had been homeless. Suddenly, what was a drama that has been done before took on new meaning. She personally had a strong bond to the world of the streets. It gave her instant credibility.
Or another man describing his feature film where his hero is trying to get his girlfriend back. But that’s also the day he has to hang out with his autistic brother for whom he feels a great deal of shame. He wants to hide his younger brother because he is so embarrassed about the way he speaks. In the film, it is his brother who really helps him get his girl back. As it turns out, this was the director’s story of having an autistic brother and the journey he took to accept and love him. An incredibly moving story.
I remember talking with the creator of Intervention. When he pitched that series to A&E, he described the effects of addiction on each member of his family. The program exec was so moved, he immediately ordered the series.
Of course, not every story you have is going to have some family link. However, that authentic emotional heart level is crucial. When you do, people remember you, the story and the emotion they feel listening to it. I still have goose bumps just thinking about those two stories that were pitched in the session.
This kind of intimacy in story telling reminds me of what Joan Didion once wrote. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” And certainly, in the pitches with that emotional connection, our lives become richer.