That new movie you really want to see opens tonight and you’ve got tickets. The preview looked amazing and the reviews are positive. As the lights go down in the theater, you get a tingle of excitement.
Before the real movie starts, though, the logos of the production houses animate their way on and off the screen, letting you know not only who made the movie, but that those people have budgets for special effects for their logos. This seems to go on longer than it should, but you’re still excited. Next, some b-roll shots of office buildings that are really tall and modern, with attractive, serious people walking in and out of them, while the screen displays the names of the stars, the director, the producer, the executive producer, and the co-executive producers.
Next comes a history lesson: a twenty minute detour into the timeline of the studio that made the movie. Oh, wait, then another history lesson of the other studio that helped. Lots of stuff about how amazing they are, how much innovation they have contributed to the industry, and how many awards they have won.
Finally, the action: 2 minutes that’s identical to what you’ve already seen in the preview, with a couple extra lines of dialog thrown in.
Roll credits. For an hour. Lights up.
Sounds terrible, right? Sounds like the Worst Movie Ever. There’s a reason filmmakers put DVD extras on the DVD extras disc. For people who want to know all the behind the scenes details and history of the studio, there’s the extras disc. Which 99% of the audience never watches. Because they just want the movie.
Yet most proposals are like the Worst Movie Ever. All credits and logos and very little story. Yet a proposal is a story, not a brochure. It’s OK to have your logo on there. It’s great to talk about why your company is a great bet for the project. But don’t make it all about you. If they want to know the details of the company history, put a link in the proposal to your website. It’s even easier than making a DVD extras disc.
(Slightly off topic, but I’d like to point out the genius of George Lucas, back when he was an up-and-coming indie filmmaker, intent on bucking the system. Lucas resigned from the Directors’ Guild, rather than follow their rules requiring a bunch of opening credits. Star Wars started with a few sentences of text, then jumped into an attention-grabbing opening shot, and never interrupted the story. He did the same thing with Indiana Jones. While Hollywood is generally better at story telling than sales departments, they still insist on cluttering up their own stories with their opening credits.)