Writing a screenplay is only one part of the screenwriter's job. A screenwriter must be able to summarize and sell their work. Writing a compelling film treatment is an important skill for every screenwriter to develop. What is a film treatment, and how do you write one? Keep reading as I delve into the world of treatments and provide some film treatment examples!
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What Is a Treatment in Film?
A film treatment can best be considered a blueprint for your film. A treatment is a document written in prose meant to summarize a screenplay. A film treatment should outline the storyline, break down the characters, and communicate the major themes and tone. A treatment can range in length from 5-15 pages.
There's no industry standard regarding writing a treatment, so feel free to apply some creativity. A treatment can have sample moments of dialogue, location information, specific shot examples, and even music descriptions. Your treatment should include whatever it takes to make the world of your script come alive, don't make it feel too dense or bogged down by endless details.
If the script is a pilot for a television show, then the treatment will often go more in-depth into the show's first season, providing short episode summaries and a plan for where the show's overall plot is headed.
Why Do You Need a Script Treatment for Your Film?
A film treatment can be a useful tool to help a writer further develop and plan their screenplay. Some writers write treatments before even writing the first draft because it can be a way to map out the overall story and hone the characters.
A treatment can also be used to pitch your project to agents, producers, or executives. An engaging treatment can entice people to read your script and help sell it. A treatment can also be a useful tool to help explain your film to potential investors.
What Are the Key Elements of a Treatment?
Some key components of a treatment include:
Writer's name and contact information
If the treatment is for a pilot script, it should also include:
Brief episode summaries for season 1
A description of where future seasons are headed
Film Treatment Examples
I can describe film treatments and the major elements they contain, but sometimes seeing examples are the best way to learn. Here are some helpful film treatment examples that show how varied treatments can be.
"Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later" (1998)
This treatment written by Kevin Williamson thoroughly details the plot of the film. It features some moments of dialogue, but this treatment's main focus is breaking down the three acts and explaining the story.
"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" (2005)
This treatment, written by Simon Kindberg, is a good example of a clear and concise treatment that efficiently sets up the characters and explains the story.
"My Own Private Idaho" (1991)
Written by Gus Van Sant, this treatment is interesting in how different it is from the finished film, particularly regarding the main character. It breaks the film down by location and features moments of dialogue.
"The Shining" (1980)
Written by Stanley Kubrik, this treatment is lengthy at around 80 pages! This treatment provides interesting insight into Kurbrik's artistic vision for this adaption.
"The Terminator" (1984)
This treatment, written by James Cameron, known for his lengthy treatments, provides a detailed telling of the film's story.
Hopefully, this blog was able to teach you more about film treatments! Use these examples to help craft your own film treatments. Remember, you want your treatment to represent the world of your script and bring it to life! Don't let your treatment get bogged down by unnecessary details; only share what is essential to depicting your story. Happy writing!