How To Write a Treatment.
Probably the most critical step in pre-production is the writing of a treatment. A treatment is the director’s vision: a summary of the work that is going to be shot. A treatment is a sales tool. Agency people and clients are extremely busy and have very short attention spans. They don’t have the time to meet and discuss projects but they’re happy to browse through a 4 to 12 page treatment about the commercial you plan to shoot for them. This is their first glimpse at the material. If they’re excited by the few pages of the treatment, then they’ll be willing to ward you the job. If they’re not excited, you’re out of the picture. There’s no standard form to writing a treatment. You just need to make it interesting enough to sell your ideas and approach.
Directing is highly competitive. One of the majors factors that determines if you’re going to get the job, is writing a treatment about how you plan to shoot the material you’re pitching for. Whether it’s a feature film, TV pilot, commercial or a music video, the process is very similar. Whoever is paying for the work to be produced goes through a pile of directors reels to arrive at a shortlist. These directors then have to write a treatment about how they plan to shoot the material. The director is the central decision maker in a production and his treatment covers what he plans to do. It goes into detail of the look they’re going for, branding, product use, how they hope the sound design to play out, what kind of music they wish to use, which actors they want to cast, wardrobe, locations, post… the list goes on. Everything that is part of the director’s vision should be included in the treatment.
There is no set format for a director’s treatment other than the director should do the best he or she to secure the job. Some treatments are a couple of typed pages, others include photos and still others are all singing and dancing multimedia extravaganzas chock full with visual and audio references. Anything goes as long as it leads to getting the job. If you’re the producer and director, it’s a good idea to write a treatment as a way of developing the idea in your head. The more you think and prepare, then the more successful you will be. The secret is to treat it as if you’re writing it for someone else. If you’re in a hurry or need some help, you know who to call.
My job is to win your next job.