Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This May Sound Odd - But...


Let's talk about binding - or how you hold your pitch bible together for presentation.

Believe me, I've seen them all. Years ago when I was in charge of assembling the art for Nelvana's pitches (Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, Ace Ventura, WILDCats, etc.) I was in the situation where the L.A. sales agent would call me at 10:00 a.m., tell me what he needed - and I'd have to have the finished presentation ready to FedEx out at 5:00 p.m.

I learned to work fast. Not only that - I got to try a lot of crazy things:

Once, we had a VAMPIRE themed show. I built a 1/4 size coffin out of foamcore, covered it in textured Japanese paper, filled it with dead leaves (and the pitch material) and sent it out. The sales agent and the TV execs loved it.

That was an extreme case - and it underscores the main topic. You're leaving behind something that someone has to store - and possibly duplicate as they pitch it up the ladder. Whether it be to an internal department or a corporate "green-light" committee, your pitch has to be easy to handle. And it can't be too weird - like the coffin. Someone has to keep it in their office. You don't want them shrugging off your addition to their decor.

A lot of pitch bibles arrive in binders. Usually the binders have a lot of empty space inside, because the pitch bibles are only 15 to 20 pages. These aren't necessarily bad, but you run the risk of someone dumping your pitch and recycling the binder after you leave.

My early pitch bibles were simply stapled in the upper left hand corner. Simple, but hardly imaginative. Then I switched to brass fasteners, through the 3 punched holes in the paper. Occasionally, I'd find an arty-er solution - a variation of the brass fastener.

For a while, I used presentation binders - with plastic sleeves that you slipped your pages into. Some of the presentation binders come with slip covers and they look good, but can be costly - especially when you consider that you may need many copies.

For my Egypt Side Road pitch bible (right), I played on the show's "Machine Age" design esthetic by binding it with self-locking nuts and bolts. It looked great - and everyone commented (favorably) on them, but was surprisingly heavy. This became an issue when I pitched the show in L.A. I sent a FedEx shipment of bibles to my agent - 30 or 40 of them. The weight of 160 nuts and bolts added considerably to my shipping costs.

What I'm using now - its a learning experience - you have to keep looking for newer and better solutions - are simple plastic binding strips (on the left). They're found in better art and stationary stores. You bundle your proposal (stapling it, to keep it together) then slip a plastic strip over the spine. Voila! Inexpensive, elegant and it looks great. They're cheap and come in a rainbow of colours. For that extra edge, I print my pitches on heavy weight, gloss, presentation paper.

I haven't done this - but I've seen it on a few occasions -- custom binding services will professionally bind your pitch bible into a hardcover book. Here's one (right) that I swiped from the Jaguar booth at the 2009 Toronto Auto Show. I've seen photographers and artists self publish limited edition volumes of their work. I'm not aware of the cost, but it would make a great presentation piece. This swanky Jaguar book came with a DVD tucked into the back cover - an ideal way to present a pilot video. While other car brochures eventually find their way into the trash - the Jaguar brochure has found a permanent place on my bookshelf.

You have to weigh the "cool factor" of the binding VS the return on its cost. Let's put it this way, I don't know of any show that was ever sold (or passed on) because of the way the pitch bible was bound.

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