Screenwriting 101: Creating A Treatment

Photo courtesy of scriptmag.com

By Brock Cooper (doddleNews)

So, you’ve talked to the producer and he loves your pitch. You’re floating on clouds, and he turns to you and asks for your script treatment. Umm…what? A treatment is a short summary of your script that the producer, or whoever you are talking to, can use to get a feel what the story is about and how you structured it.

It’s the last step before he asks for the full script. The pitch is what opens the door and the treatment is what allows you to walk through it. Crafting a good treatment will help make your screenplay a reality.

Overview

A treatment used for marketing purposes can be anywhere from 1-10, more commonly 2-5, pages long depending on the writer. Since you’re trying to keep someone’s attention, the shorter the better, but not at the sacrifice of the story. It consists of the title and logline, overview of main characters as well as a synopsis of your three acts.

While a treatment can be a great tool for any point of the creative process, I’ll be talking specifically about a treatment designed to tell your screenplay.

Title and Logline

These are the first things that producer is going to see and should encapsulate exactly what the story is about. For example, a romantic comedy should have a feel good title and a horror movie should have a scary title. (I know it sounds like common sense.)

Take a look at some of your favorite titles in the genre and use them as inspiration. Jaws… it’s either a scary movie about something with big teeth or about a dentist.  The title should be catchy, concise and easy to remember.

A logline has long been used in marketing as a way to boil down a complex subject. It’s one or two sentences that tells the producer everything they need to know about the movie. It includes the title, genre and a very brief overview of the movie as whole. It’s designed to get him interested in continuing to the overall plot summary.

For example, for Jurassic Park could have been: An action packed adventure, where a family and group of paleontologists fight and fend off genetically engineered dinosaurs after a storm shuts down the dino theme park.

Key Characters

You should also have a short section outlining the traits of the main characters. Your hero and villain at the most interesting characters you have, so go into depth on who they are, what are their motivations, etc. You can also include the quirky comic relief and other fun characters. Do not use this as a chance go over every little character or do a 10 page bio on the characters. The key is to  be short, sweet and to the point.

The Synopsis

This is the meat and potatoes where you get to discuss each individual act. You are basically expanding the log line into a three act story structure. The key is to provide a flowing and short description of each act. The synopsis has to be interesting, flow naturally from one act to the other and be concise.

The goal is to have him read it and then want more. You can’t have a three page synopsis because he now has the whole story. You need to whet his appetite and leave him hungry.

Ideally, the producer or reader will come back to you and ask for your actual screenplay and the rest is history.

About doddle 16437 Articles
Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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