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Treatment

storyboards, flowcharts, mock-ups, outlines, and site maps

Storyboards Inc.

Wikipedia’s Treatment

A film treatment (or treatment for short) is a piece of prose, typically the step between scene cards (index cards) and the first draft of a screenplay for a motion picture. It is generally longer and more detailed than an outline (or one page synopsis) and shorter and less detailed than a step outline but it may include details of directorial style that an outline omits. They read like a short story.

In many ways, the treatment is the most important document that you will produce for this course. If you get this “right”, it will make everything else possible in the next two months. I put the “right” in quotes because I want to emphasize that there is no One Right Treatment. It is certainly something you can change, but it is not something you would “correct”. So don’t be afraid.

If I gave your script to two of your classmates and asked them to make a video from it without consulting each other, they would come up with different videos. Both would be based on the same script and would contain the same dialogue, but almost everything else about them would be different. Why? Because of the two different ways that the two different directors “treated” the script. Your treatment document is your description of what you are going to do that other directors would do differently. Don’t worry about them when you write it. Concentrate on what you are going to do.

Start with your concept. Now think it through, imagine, envision. It’s the end of the semester, three months from now. We’re all sitting in the Lecture Hall. Your video is up next. There’s this pause while everyone turns expectantly, hopefully, curiously toward the screen.

What will we see?

Use words, as many as you need, to help us now to see what you see. Complete sentences are good, but you can use lists of them or within them. You can write what looks more like a paragraph.

How to write a treatment for a script/screenplay

In a nutshell, a treatment is a detailed outline of your film from start to finish – including all of your clever twists and turns. Some writers love them whilst others (usually the lazy ones) loathe them.

No matter what your view on treatments is, there is no mistaking that they are an immensely powerful tool for scriptwriters that force you into thinking about the path your story will take rather than focusing on the “cool scenes”.

For the writers that prefer to skip this step and dive straight into the 1st draft of the screenplay, they tend to write really shit scripts which in turn make god-awful movies. It makes good sense to have a good, long think about your story before writing a script for your story.

Free Hugs Amsterdam – high concept, low-budget, but takes a couple of special actors

Treatment ideas for projects with lots of still images

Videomaker’s Treating Your Video Right

Trivia note: From Joe Halderman’s point if view, he sold a treatment to David Letterman.

Letterman Blackmailed
by Kevin Allocca
Oct 02, 2009

Halderman approached Letterman outside his home on Sept 9th offering to sell Letterman a screenplay treatment.

At the beginning of every media project, there is a need to define a desired treatment. Any concept can lend itself to a wide variety of successful treatments. A treatment outlines what the finished project will be about. For example, a music video could show, as a concept:

  • the artists performing the song in front of a live audience or by themselves
  • a story line with actors and sets
  • compelling images to complement the music in a more abstract but still purposeful way

Each of these concepts implies a different treatment. The treatment describes:

  • look, sound, and feel, visual and aural design
  • each location or setting; where and when; indoor/outdoor, day/night — list them all
  • each situation — storyline at this location; what’s happening there?
  • cast: characters/actors, costumes, props
  • crew: camera placements, microphone placements
  • pacing
  • tone, color, lighting
  • images, music, text (to be added in post-production)

Even though most treatment writers don’t follow specific guidelines or structures, a well written treatment is one that can successfully communicate complete ideas to the other people, especially the money people, involved in the project.

Well done, a video treatment underlies the process of creating the production budget where items identified in the treatment are included in the budgeting process. It is a planning document.

In short, the treatment is a necessary phase of every project. It allows the production company — that’s you — to communicate its ideas to the artists and it allows artists to make decisions regarding the direction of the project. The treatment also helps you write production budgets and gives artists clear expectations when committing to your project..

For someone who is inexperienced with making videos, the treatment will save time and help ensure consistency, and thus watchability.

examples: two treatments

At YouTube, look at the two videos eventually made from the treatments:

Kym Marsh’s Sentimental (no longer available)

MC Harvey’s Get Up and Move

The quotation below from Egan and Barry mentions “mock-ups or animatics”. They are also known as storyboards.

Wikipedia’s Storyboard

Storyboards, Inc.

Music Video Treatment Basics
by Jeff Clark
MVWire.com

Writing Music Video Treatments
by Maureen Egan and Matthew Barry
MVWire.com

Once the treatment is exactly where we want it to be, we work on mock-ups or animatics, which are the visual blueprint of how the video will go. truth is, no matter how great your descriptive style may be, a lot of folks really dig the added visuals to help them really get behind your idea. so knowing a little photoshop, grabbing some clip art from the web, and drafting up some rough visuals can be really worthwhile. once thats done, we send it all to whomever has approached us – the label, manager, band members, or all three. then the waiting begins….