Filmmaking Screenwriting Script Development

What is a film treatment and how do I create one?

A film treatment is an essential piece to the filmmaking puzzle, it allows you to build a structure for your film and develop the idea further. It’s used to help you get over writer’s block, provide you with direction, and even helps sell your idea to potential investors!

In this article, we will look at what a film treatment is, why you need one, and how to write one.

Let’s have a look!

What is a film treatment?

A film treatment is essentially a piece of prose, which is more detailed than an outline and includes details of directorial style that an outline omits. This is usually used as the next step before you start to write your screenplay in full. It’s a great starting point and gives you structure inevitably when the writers’ block sets in.

Writing a film treatment

Why do I need a film treatment?

There are many reasons why you would need a film treatment. Firstly they are great for developing your latest idea for a film. You may have an idea and an outline in place but not much else has happened in creating your masterpiece. By using a film treatment you can flesh out each act of your idea and develop an overview of the characters.

Overall the script treatment gets all of the ideas, logline, the synopsis, and characters down in a relatively short document that you can use when presenting to get your film funded. A lot of the time film execs won’t have the time to read the full script at first so a treatment goes a long way to persuading them to pick up your script.

What to include?

  1. A Working title
  2. A logline
  3. Synopsis
  4. An introduction to key characters
  5. Act 1
  6. Act 2
  7. Act 3

Structuring your film treatment – Building it out

Logline

A brief summary of the show – usually one line.

Key Characters

Summarise the key characters and tell us a bit about them!

Act 1 (The setup)

Build your world. Who is the protagonist? Where do they live? What’s happening? Build the initial picture for the audience. What is the inciting incident?

Act 2 (The conflict)

What brings your characters together? How do they respond to the inciting incident? What’s the rising action? Any more plot twists?

Act 3 (The resolution)

What’s the climax? How is the inciting incident resolved? Where do the characters end?


Writing a film treatment


Now, what do I do with my film treatment?

Now you have completed the treatment you can look to now develop your characters and their story arc based on the treatment. Then finally you can begin writing the script. The treatment is an ideal instrument to combatting writer’s block and gives you a structure to writing your script.

This can also be used as a tool for having your script purchased. However, your film treatment will rarely sell your film – you’ll need a spec script at the bare minimum.

Final thoughts (TLDR)

Well… We hope that’s helped.

Just to recap. Writing the treatment is essential when writing your script. It combats writer’s block, gives you structure, helps to get the film funded (part of the sales pitch). Furthermore, it allows you to build your script out and iron out any ideas, action points, and resolutions before you build upon them in the script.

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