Music videos are so 80s/90s, right? They belong with the era when MTV screened wall-to-wall vids instead of 'reality' TV? Try telling that to the millions who bought Gangnam Style; were they really simply loving the music? 1.6bn (and still climbing) have viewed the video on YT, not to mention the many re-makes (school eg, eg2), viral ads + celeb link-ups (even political protest in Seoul) - and it doesn't matter how legit it is, this nightmare for daydream Beliebers is making a lot of money, even from the parodies + dislikes. All this for a simple dance track that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1990 ... but had a fun vid. This meme itself was soon displaced by the Harlem Shake. Music vids even cause diseases it seems!
This blog explores every aspect of this most postmodern of media formats, including other print-based promo tools used by the industry, its fast-changing nature, + how fans/audiences create/interact. Posts are primarily written with Media students/educators in mind. Please acknowledge the blog author if using any resources from this blog - Mr Dave Burrowes

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

PITCHING your proposed coursework track

Former Pres. Bush, son of a pitch... Aiming right I see
Updated May 2015.
You'll find there are multiple guides to pitching on this blog and other DB blogs. I'm aiming to make this a straightforward but comprehensive guide.

  • ENGAGING: You're trying to persuade an audience, to sell them on an idea
    You have to battle to win and maintain attention!
  • COMPETITIVE: Remember that you're in competition with others - make sure to address why you: why should others work on your idea?
  • CLEAR: Be specific on what it is you're proposing
  • PITHY: But be concise! Microsoft argue digitisation has reduced our attention span to just 8 seconds - less than that of a goldfish!!!
  • INTERTEXTUAL + GENRE: At all levels, and no matter how original (impossible, according to postmodern theory!) you consider your idea to be, make some clear comparisons to existing video/s. How will your video signify the genre?
  • AUDIO-VISUAL ILLUSTRATION: As with the blog, and Evaluation, specific illustrative material is vital, and helps with engagement.
  • THE TRACK: Should be incorporated to ensure the audience knows what you're referring to - but take care with audio levels: keep it low.
  • ACHIEVABLE: Be clear on the challenges and why you're confident this is an achievable idea - anticipate questions and provide answers.
  • MISE-EN-SCENE: Talk through possible locations, costume, props, scenes...
  • AUDIENCE: So often overlooked but this is CRUCIAL - your concept only does/n't make sense in context of who its aimed at.
  • HUMOUR ME: Some humour can work, just think carefully about this and use in moderation. If doing this as a video, thinking about the style of delivery (backdrop etc) could be an idea.
  • TAKING THE Ps: PREPARATION, PRACTICE and PACE: You need to practice the delivery, from a loose 'script' (some ad-libbing can be good, but don't try to be entirely spontaneous). If you're talking too fast to fit it all in ... edit, and shorten. You must leave some gaps for points to be digested, and simply for a good delivery.
  • TAKING THE PITH: I'll repeat the earlier point as its so key. Just as in parts of the exam, a real challenge in a strictly time-limited (most you'll do beyond school will be!) pitch is balancing clear explanation (EAA) with illustration (EX). Being concise is a virtue, and a useful skill to work on.
  • ANTICIPATE QUERIES, CONCERNS: There will be Q+A time afterwards; try to anticipate what might be raised. If you've had to radically condense some points in the pitch, be prepared to seize this opportunity to expand on them.

The set length of the pitch will vary according to student numbers - I always want to make sure there's plentiful time for Q+A after a pitch. I'll generally look to film this; there are usually some useful points from Q+A for you to take note of, and this is helpful material for your blog (and Evaluation: audience feedback!).

2-3 minutes would be a typical time.

What I don't want is any student hunched over a keyboard while the audience looks away at a screen. If presenting this 'live' you need to be stood by the screen, and making good use of body language and vocal delivery. In that case a backing film (or a Prezi, or, at worst, a PowerPoint) should be illustrating the points you make - if you're well enough prepared you shouldn't need to be looking at the screen (feel free to use cue cards, but try to avoid a full 'script' as this leads to dull delivery).
Please strive to shoot some sample footage, no matter how rough or hammed up, to help demonstrate your vision (as would often happen in actual pitches seeking to secure funding)

A video pitch is fine, and many of you may prefer this as you can control your timing ... and nerves! This can be good practice for the style of work you'll need for various vodcasts and Evaluation answers too, although you may wish to gain the experience of practicing physically delivering a pitch.

Take care with audio levels: check that your voice is clear and audible, and that any other audio elements are suitably lower in volume. Whichever way you deliver it, you must play part of the track.

I'll leave it for you to decide which you think work well, and what characteristics you think have contributed to this - you can view a range of past examples on the IGSMediaStudies YouTube channel, using the search 'pitch', and much more can be found by looking through past blogs. You can also try the tag 'pitching' on this blog; though I've not retro-tagged all past material there is extensive additional video material you can find this way.

yes indeed, there is a dress + a pitch pictured...
  • name the act/track!
  • in a single sentence, what is your idea?
  • THEN expand on this!
  • Which one or more of Frith's 3 types of music video (narrative, concept, performance) is this? [usually a combination]
  • Make reference to the track's lyrics
  • are there any existing videos you'd compare your proposed video to? How generic is this? Break down which conventions you're following, which challenging or working outside the typical norms
  • who are your target audience? Can you differentiate between a core and secondary (think crossover) audience for your proposed video, and explain how elements of your proposal reflect this?
  • give some detail of the media language you would employ (shot types, framing + lighting [cinematography], editing style); again, consider intertextualities and influences (maybe a director?)
  • are there budget requirements?
  • consider the representations your video might contain, linking back to target audience/s
  • what resources would you require in terms of cast, cast skills, locations, props, costumes, make-up, SFX and camera/editing equipment to realize your full creative potential with this proposal?
  • what are the biggest challenges your idea poses - and how will you address these?
  • WHY YOU? Sum up why others should work on your idea (this could include reference to past work, establishing your credentials!)
You could also include:
  • summarise for us the nature (especially genre) of the band/act: a very brief history; what they're best known for
  • what do we expect to see in music videos within this genre (ie give us some idea of codes + conventions, citing examples if you can)
  • run through some of the ideas you considered and rejected, informing us of what inspired these ideas (lyrics? band? genre? intertextual/postmodern notions? random inspiration?!)

You can use this to help organise your thoughts, research + notes - download it if you want to expand the table.
Practice Pitches Rough Guide

The following are a selection of documents used by Latymer students to outline their proposals for music videos; if you use the Links Lists provided on this blog you can click through and see for yourselves how these proposals turned out. 'Fences' Treatment - Selina, Mia, Bhavika and Mary

Pitch 1

Initial Voodoo Child Treatment

Voodoo Child Presentation

Treatment 2

Now over to you...

You could approach this as a crowdfunding exercise. You can easily find lots of material on this so here's a few links to get you started.
A useful guide with embedded examples.
The most successful music crowdfunded projects of 2013...
Wiki on the highest crowdfunded figures raised...
I've blogged on this many times...

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