Pre-Production: How To Write a Treatment

One of the first steps in pre-production is the writing of a treatment. A treatment is a loose term that is thrown around in the industry. It's basically a summery of the work that is going to be shot. Now, there are two kinds of treatments: there is a writer's treatment and a director's treatment.

Writer's Treatment

There are two basic forms of the writer's treatment. There is one for television and one for feature films. Both are a summery of the work that is going to be shot.

Writing a Writer's Treatment

Think of the treatment as a presentation. Executives are very busy people whose time is limited. They don't want to read a 120 page screenplay because that's at least two hours of their time. But, they are willing to read a 5 to 10 page treatment about the movie you plan to write for them (or maybe already have written). It's a sales tool. If they're excited by the few pages of your treatment, then they'll be willing to read the entire screenplay. If they're not excited, then they'll figure the script is not worth reading.

What Is Included in a Writer's Treatment

A feature film treatment is a summery of the story. A treatment for a television series would be a detailed summery of the pilot introducing the characters and series, and then it might be followed by brief summaries for future episodes. There really is not a standard form to writing a writer's treatment. You just need to make it interesting because it's a sales tool for your idea.

Writing a Director's Treatment

Directing is a competitive field, and one of the big factors that determines if you're going to be working, is writing a treatment about how you plan to shoot the material you're bidding for. Wither it's a feature film, TV pilot, commercial or music video, the process is very similar. Whoever is paying for the work to be produced goes through a ton of directors reels and picks out the best five to ten that they like.

What Is Included in a Director's Treatment

These directors then have to write a treatment about how they plan to shoot the material. The director is the central decision maker in a production and his treatment covers what he plans to do. It goes into detail of the look they're going for, how they hope the sound design to play out, what kind of music they wish to use, what kind of actors do they want to cast, the fashions styles of the actor, and locations. Everything that is part of the director's vision should be included in the treatment.

The Format of a Director's Treatment

There is no set format for a director's treatment other than the director should make it the best it can be so he can get the job. Some treatments are a couple of typed pages, while others include photos. Some treatments are even power point presentations with visual and audio references. Anything goes as long as it leads to getting the job.

Write for Yourself

Even if you're the producer and director, it's a good idea to write a treatment as a way of developing the idea in your head. The more you think and prepare, then the more successful you will be. Write a treatment for yourself and treat it as if you're writing it for someone else. You won't regret it.

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