Welcome to the PIT List!

I'm a network field producer who also worked in local tv as a line producer and field producer. Over the years, I have had the great fortune to work with super people. Now I'd like to pass along what I know and rant a tad.

"Dear Maggie..." pitlist@gmail.com
I check it sporadically, but I love answering emails, so if you have an issue or difficult person you need help with, don't hesitate to shoot it my way.

Maggie L

Maggie L
One of the rare times I'm in the office

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pkg Advice

I've written a million pkgs. Here's what I've learned:

-Write intro, pkg, tag. In that order. If you write the pkg first, you end up giving your anchors nothing to say.
-Get to it already. The intro should be quick- like a paragraph long. It should say exactly what the story's about. Don't "save" anything for the pkg or "build up to it." Any longer than a graph and you some video, but I say, unless it's a big story or something special, just get to the reporter or pkg.
-Best video first. Always. Just don't "save" your video. Your viewer will be gone by the time you get to it. In fact, if it's great video, use it a couple times.
-No SOTS off the top. Unless somebody's bawling, a sot is not a great way to start a pkg. Nats is a good place to start.
-Use NATS like SOTS. When logging tape, I log NATS like sots. For example, 1:02:34-1:02:36 lawnmower NATS. Use NATS early and often. Don't leave it to your photog/editor to put it. I also like to use NATS to transition from one place to another in a pkg.
-Short SOTS, good: Micro SOTS, bad. Lately, I've been seeing pkgs with soundbites that are so quick you don't have a chance to connect with the person being interviewed. I'm sure some consultant sent out a memo that said: no SOTS over :05 or something like that. What ends up happening is that you have a collection of five second SOTS and inordinately long tracks. I guarantee you your interview said it better than you can. You should aim for an even mix of SOTS and track, but generally, I don't like to go more than a sentence or two without breaking for NATS or SOT. Think pacing.
-Hook into one person. You don't have to do this always, but sometimes it's nice to find one character who is really good and hood the story through them.
-People first, experts second. Experts are nice, but find some people to put in your story. They're usually a better soundbite. Take your story and find who is being impacted by it. That's your people sound. Start with it first.
-Use graphics only when you don't have good video. Graphics can be a pkg killer. You don't want to put many if any numbers in your story, but that would be a time to use a graphic as well. "15 million people voted, " for example.
-Tag should wrap it up, take it to the next step. For example: "They're voting on this next Friday." Or, "The plan costs 5 million dollars."
-Take time out. When you're done with your script and it's 1:30, make it 1:20. If it's slotted for 1:20, make it 1:10. Any script can improve by being shortened because we are all in love with our own voices and tend to be verbose. If you make a habit of shortening here and there, you strengthen your script. A good place to start is the line before a bite. It almost always can be jettisoned.

Sample FAKE story.
Anchor Intro- "Fire investigators are trying to find out what caused a fire that killed four people on the East side. Reporter Shanna Showusall has more."

Take pkg.

NATS-Firetruck sirens. Amazing blazing video.

The fire started this morning.
Susan Senior had just put on her morning coffee.

(Witness:"I looked up from the stove and I like to have died when I saw the flames just shooting up outside my window.")

Senior got out ok, four or her neighbors in the Burning Run Apt Complex did not.
A family of four was found inside their apartment on the second floor.

(Fire Investigator:"When we got here, the complex was fully engulfed. We tried to put the fire out, but unfortunately, it was too late.")

Now fire investigators are trying to find out what caused the fire. People living in the complex say they've been have electrical problems lately, but there's no word on whether that played a part.

NATS-Picking through belongings.

Residents like Senior now must try to pick through their belongings and find a new place to live, a task that won't be easy.

(Witness:"I don't know where I'll go. I've lived her for 20 years. But I'm alive. That's the main thing. Thank God almighty, I'm alive.")

ANchor TAG: Right now, fire investigators are not releasing the names or ages of the victims. The Red Cross says it will offer help to the people who lived at the complex.

1 comment:

Aaron G said...

You should save all this for the "Real Life Guide to Televsion" book. Seriously! Good info that a lot of people that have been in the biz still lack.