Even the most successful and experienced screenwriters may find it difficult to sit down and start writing a full-length screenplay one day. A treatment is a narrative screenwriting tool that aids in the exploration of ideas, the development of characters, and the fleshing out of various story possibilities.
What is the definition of a treatment?
A treatment is a document that presents your film’s story concept before you write the entire script. Treatments are typically written in the present tense, in narrative-style prose, and focus on the most important aspects of your film, such as the title, logline, story summary, and character descriptions.
Treatments allow a writer to try out an idea before devoting all of their creative energy to a new screenplay. Treatments also allow writers to summarize their story idea so that studio executives or producers interested in financing the film can see it.
A script treatment is written earlier in the writing process, before any actual scriptwriting, to help you sort out the story elements you’ll need. The purpose of a film treatment is to:
What Is the Purpose of a Film Treatment?
Treatments can aid in the discovery of your film’s story while also assisting in the fundraising process. Both the treatment and the film require gathering the same facts, speaking with the same people, and shaping the same story. You gain a better understanding of how your story needs to be told on the screen by figuring out how to communicate your passion, knowledge, and vision on the page.
What’s the Difference Between a Treatment and a Spec Script?
Both treatment and a spec script are used to help writers develop screenplay ideas and potentially sell a film or television show.
- Set the scene for the reader to imagine the world you want them to see.
Layout the overall structure of your story.
- Assist you in identifying plot holes or parts of the movie that you haven’t seen.
- Create characters and determine the significance of each role.
- Assist in navigating your film’s journey by acting as a road map.
- A treatment is written earlier in the development process and contains a detailed summary of the characters and events that will take place in the film. The first draft of a spec script is preceded by a treatment.
A spec script is a longer, more complete version of the story written as a screenplay.
How long does the treatment have to last?
The length of a screenplay treatment varies depending on the writer; some treatments are as short as one page, while others can be as long as forty or fifty pages. If you are presenting your treatments to people who are interested in funding your film, it is best to communicate the most important information as quickly as possible by keeping your treatment short. Typically, the sweet spot is between two and five pages.
A Film Treatment’s Four Elements
Treatments provide detailed descriptions of the setting, theme, character roles, and plot to demonstrate how the story will be experienced by the audience. The following four elements should be included in the treatment:
- The title. Even if it’s just a working title, give your treatment a name.
- Synopsis. This is a one-sentence summary of the argument. Here’s where you can learn how to write a logline.
- Summary of the plot. The length of your story summary is entirely up to you as a writer. Some authors provide one-page summaries, while others use 70 pages to tell the story of their film.
- Characters who are important. Provide a character breakdown, including their arch or how their character develops throughout the story.