Thursday, October 7, 2010

I went to get a v/o and a package broke out

Several years ago we were asked to drop by a charity luncheon and shoot enough video for a 20 second voiceover. The luncheon was wrapping up and whoever was running the event was at the podium.

"Thank you all for coming," he said. "We've raised a great deal of money today."

Suddenly a local notable stood up and said, "If you wanna raise some more, I'll pay two hundred dollars to hit the Mayor with a pie."

And just like that, our radar went up.

Money shot. First clip in the opening tease.

The Mayor, who was a really good sport, agreed to take one for the team. A waiter draped a tablecloth around him, then handed the other guy a pie tin filled with whipped cream. The photog got right in front of the Mayor and the guy nailed the politician right in the face.

So we had a great v/o, right?

Yeah, until another guy stood up and kept the roller coaster going. "I'll pay three hundred to hit that guy with a pie!"

Suddenly, people with deep pockets were emptying them for the chance to hit other people with pies. Thirty minutes later we had the makings of a hilarious package on a pie fight that broke out in the ballroom of the city's most expensive hotel.

We called the station to let them know what we had and were told to turn it into a package. The producer got a ton of mileage out of the video, leading the newscast with a shot of the Mayor getting hit with a pie. If that didn't keep viewers from sticking around, nothing would.

In that case, we saw something unique and kept shooting. Management was smart enough to realize this was no longer just a voiceover, but a package that would be the watercooler story the next day.

Too often you go to a story with pre-conceived notions about what you're going to get. I've seen reporters come back to the station telling similar tales of voiceovers that had turned out to be much more, but in many cases the reporter stuck to the original assignment. "I was just assigned to get a v/o."

So let me get this straight: you're sent to get a v/o on a blood drive and aliens land a spaceship at the location. And yet you don't shoot enough for a package or call the station to update them on the fact that little green men are running around the blood bank.

Stories can fall into your lap on occasion and it's up to you to be both open minded and creative when this happens. Just because you've got a specific assignment doesn't mean you can't expand on it and make it something special.

Every assignment has the potential to be something unique. Keep your eyes and your mind open.



Forward said...

great story. this is how i approached things when i was working in tv. it was more fun that way.

turdpolisher said...

happened today. got a pkg and a nat pk out of it.