A good pitch is hard to write. So we thought it might be helpful to publish some of the pitches we receive at the Independent Producer Project, along with the finished versions of the story. Read the pitch below, then listen to the final piece to see how much it changed (or didn’t).
Scroll down to the bottom to see how the story turned out, and for more resources on how to pitch a story to the IPP go here.
From: J Hardman To: Bob Carlson Subject: pitch— Date: September 20, 2012 at 6:06:48 AM PDT
I wanted to send you a pitch that should fit your program.
I’m working on getting the following character on the phone to record—he’s in a Fed. penitentiary in Nevada—
My father’s an Episcopal Priest, and his mentor from seminary had a son who, at the age of 19(1972), got involved in an extremist group that sided with Castro and a few other revolutionary movements. He was part of an armed robbery in Virginia which left two dead, and on the run with the other three group members, he headed to Texas, where they hijacked an airplane(killing an airline staffer) to Cuba.
Here’s an article from the Houston Chronicle
He was not directly responsible for any of the deaths, but was obviously an accomplice. The Cubans held him in jail for a bit, but with no extradition treaties, he was safe there, and they ultimately let him out. He stayed in Cuba for four or five years, and wound up going to college there and getting a job through the Cuban government. The others tried to sneak back into the US and were caught immediately.
Morgan came back too, but with an alias, and was able to have a full life for more than a decade, even getting married. Eventually the Fed’s caught up to him in the early 90s, and he’s been in federal prison ever since. He’s currently in Nevada.
My father and some other priest friends began campaigning on Morgan’s behalf a decade or so ago, seeking leniency, and ultimately parole. Here’s what my dad said when I asked him why he was making this effort.
“my answer to your question about why I have been going to bat for Morgan since his turning himself in, is that his dad was a strong influence in our lives. And as I have been writing to Morgan for his father’s sake to begin with, I have discovered that the son is a copy of his father in many ways. He appears to us as having the potential to really contribute to society as his father did. He even looks like his father.
He has been persistent in keeping his intention of doing the time more than just waiting for the day he would get out. He took classes to learn how to paint, to play the violin, and get his HS degree. Then he proceeded to take college courses and finished about two years in spite of the stress the office gave him about getting his books or his paint. He worked for the chaplain and used the skills he learned in his 20 years of having his own business or working for someone. He held worship services and participated in some programs like Kairos. And he helps the teacher in some courses, may even do some teaching.
And all that he has done has been as one ‘different’ from most of the other prisoners…they were either of a different culture or uneducated or they were much younger than he was/is. So he has been fascinating to follow, to pray for his safety and his day to day patience, and to hope for his freedom one day.”
At my dad’s request I started corresponding with Morgan a year ago via letter. My dad knew he had begun writing a memoir in jail and thought maybe I could help him with his writing.
So far he’s sent me two fairly sizable letters, and they alternate between explaining a little bit about his life in prison, and his life before prison. The guy has had a lot of time to think, over and over, about decisions he made when was 19. He’s eloquent and sensitive in his writing, and careful with his words.
There’s kind of a juvenile quality to some of it, not the writing, but the curiosity he has about what a normal life would have been like.
He’s nearing 60 now. His parents just died a year ago. He was hoping to get out to see them before they passed.
I asked him about what kinds of recording opportunities might exist, if I could send him a recorder, or if he had other ideas.
He seemed to think we could record some things from the prison phone.
I’ll let you know as soon as I hear back from him about recording. Hopefully in the next few weeks.