Updated August 19, 2:48 p.m. EST
When journalists Elie Gardner and Oscar Durand read a press release about a massive aerobics class that would be held inside one of Latin America’s most notorious prisons, they knew there must be a more meaningful story beneath the hype.
A few days before the event, Gardner and Durand sent a pitch to Storyhunter, an online production network for professional video journalists, proposing a video from inside the Lima, Peru, prison. Storyhunter quickly gave them the green light to begin working on the piece, and the support they needed in order to bring it to life.
Before long, Gardner and Durand’s story was published on Storyhunter.tv and on Yahoo's Brazil and Spanish-language channels. Their video became a Vimeo Staff Pick, and made Gardner and Durand Storyhunters of the Month.
Storyhunter, which launched a year ago, aims to help freelance video journalists tell the world’s most important, untold stories. In addition to providing editorial support, Storyhunter handles sales and distribution, so journalists can focus on making videos.
“We ask, 'Will the world be a better, more informed place if we show this?' says Storyhunter co-founder and chief executive Jaron Gilinsky, who worked as a freelance video journalist for eight years before starting Storyhunter.
The site is open to talented producers, editors, videographers and documentary filmmakers, who must apply to be part of the network. Videos can be in any language, but the filmmaker should be able to provide story translation into English, French, Portuguese or Spanish. In a nutshell, Storyhunter is looking for top journalists who can handle video editing and direct their own show.
“We love working with people who can do it all,” Gilinsky says.
Once accepted in the network, videographers have access to a global assignment desk and can begin pitching stories or collaborating on projects with other members. For each assignment, Storyhunter provides guidelines and style guides to help draw out the richest narrative and produce the best stories. Currently, the site has five ongoing assignment categories: Behind the News, Documentary, News Feature, Profiles and Investigative.
“We want to find characters who are behind the news, behind what you're seeing in breaking news stories,” Gilinsky says. “We want to go into the story on a much deeper level to give a perspective that is more memorable and profound.”
Completed videos, which can run up to seven minutes, are published on Storyhunter.tv and distributed to a number of well-known news sites. Storyhunter has worked with MSN, Yahoo channels in Latin America, The Economist and Miami Herald. It also announced a new agreement with AOL to become a “featured partner” for news video on its premium-content platform. Storyhunter's English-language videos will be distributed on AOL through a Storyhunter-branded channel.
Once a final video cut is sent, freelancers are paid within four weeks, through direct bank deposits or PayPal. Payment varies by assignment, but is typically US$1,000 for a four-to-six minute package. Storyhunter only buys edited stories, not video footage, meaning that journalists are free to reuse footage or make a feature documentary down the line.
“We enable people to do their work by handling the editorial support part and getting the story sold and distributed,” Gilinksy says. “We feel that if we can do that for people, we can actually help current video journalists and make this viable for people who want to do this for a career.”
To learn more and apply, visit Storyhunter.