What Is A Film Treatment?

What Is A Film Treatment

Often times, it gets so boring and at some point becomes a little bit confusing when you set out on writing a screenplay or a full movie script when you have not yet been able to figure out every components of your whole story.

And even if you have been able to figure that out, you will never become aware of the later inspiration or motivation that would give rise to new scenes that will help to make your story more interesting if you do not have a write up in place that will help you to have more insight into your whole story.

This write up we are referring to in the filmmaking industry is what we call a film treatment. As a matter of fact, you will be able to kill the boredom and confusion that comes with script writing if you are beginning with a film treatment already in place.

In this article therefore, I am going to help you understand what is a film treatment, why you need to write a film treatment as well as how long a film treatment should be.

So without much ado, let’s get started with it.

What is a film treatment?

A film treatment is usually a multiple page synopsis which gives a brief description or details of any visual project like films, TV productions etc.

Film treatments usually contains the key elements of a film project like important scenes outlines, character descriptions, vital plot points, sequences etc.

It is very important to note that a film treatment is is always written in a prose format and not as a scripts. s a matter of fact, it is a way of breaking down your story into one simple document that will help the reader, usually a film producer, director, screenwriter etc. to easily understand what your whole story is all about..

Often times, a film treatment I used when you are trying to pitch and sell your story because it will help the intended buyer to easily understand how interesting your story is before he can offer to buy.

Why write a film treatment?

There are so many reasons why you should write a film treatment and below ae some of them:

  1. Provides an insight into the whole story.
  2. Helps you to plot and develop your story.
  3. Helps you to figure the time frame for writing your whole story.
  4. Inspires and motivates you to come up with more interesting scenes for your story.
  5. Film treatment is also used as a film marketing tool.

1. Provides an insight into the whole story.

A film treatment will provide a great insight into your whole story, and for that reason it is very advisable to write it before you set out to write the whole screenplay of your story.

It is from the film treatment that you will get to understand the world of your story, the characters that are going to be involved in that world as well as the occupation you should give to all of them.

And even though a film treatment will not contain a dialogue, it will assist you to quickly understand what should be going through the mind of your characters, and those thought forms will help you to invent the dialogues that will characterize each of those characters in every scene where they appear and have a conversation.

2. Helps you to plot and develop your story.

Your story in general must have a series of events that happen in their respective order, sometimes, those events may come as a flashback, dreams, imaginations etc. and it is a film treatment that will help you to easily arrange these events in a descending form which filmmakers refer to as scenes.

While plotting your stories in the order aforementioned, you will then be able to determine the world, that is the location where these events are going to take place as well as the respective characters who will be necessary in those worlds.

In sci-fi films for example, the world of the story are usually imaginary, and if you are writing such a move,, you need to figure out the settings of those worlds by way of a film treatment before you even get down to write the entire script.

3. Helps you to figure the time frame for writing your whole story.

Setting out to write a screenplay without a film treatment might make you spend close to a year or more without finishing it.

There are even times you will have to scrape the whole write up and start all over again, or fall prey to writers block which is “the inability to begin or continue writing for reasons other than a lack of basic skill or commitment”

So to avoid all these and many more as a story teller or script writer, you need to adopt the film treatment process and use it to figure out how many days, weeks, months or years you are going to finish your whole script.

From my personal experience, I realize that a film treatment will help me to finish a whole screenplay within few weeks. And I am rest assured it will help you too.

4. Inspires and motivates you to come up with more interesting scenes for your story.

When yo are writing an entire script from a film treatment that’s already laid out, you will discover that you are going to be more inspired and motivated to create more scenes that will make your story more and more interesting.

This is because the film treatment has already helped you to know the scene that is before and the one after, now knowing these will help you to discover another interesting scene or scenes that should come in between them to interpret or give more meaning to the story.

For example, if you are writing a story about crisis in a marital home all the scenes in the story should not be about the husband and wife fusing and fighting every other time, you need to have a scene where they were out on a beach having good times until the husband mistakenly or intentionally stares at another woman’s bottom and this caused a fight after the wife plainly notices it.

This will make your story more real because couples do not just wake up and start fighting each other, there has to be one thing or another that incited the fight. And these things usually happen while they are already having their best of times like a couple.

Mixing up scenes like this will help other couples who are going through the same thing in their marriage relate more while they are watching the finished production.

And don’t forget that it is a film treatment that will inspire and motivate you to discover these instances the more.

5. Film treatment is also used as a film marketing tool.

Even if you are already done with writing a screenplay or script you want to sell, there is no potential buyer who will have that much time to sit down and read the whole screenplay. And even of they do, it will be very difficult for them to understand what your story sis all about.

For this reason, you need to have a film treatment in place because it will help your potential buyers to easily figure out what your whole story is all about within few minutes or hours.

Thus, a film treatment serves as a great marketing tool for those who are writing their screenplay for the movie marketplace.

How long is a film treatment?

There are no strict rules laid down on how long a film treatment should be because the length of film treatment will always vary depending on the intention or aim of the film writer.

For example, if you are writing a film treatment to help you get an insight into your entire story before you start the screenplay, then your film treatment can reach 42 pages like James Cameron’s film treatment for the movie Terminator.

By the way James Cameron is known as a film writer who usually has long and detailed film treatments. So toeing the same line will never make you go against the ethics of writing a film treatment, if ever such ethics is even there.

However, if your aim of writing a film treatment is to help you sell your story, then you must ensure your film treatment is short enough to make it snappy for the reader to immediately understand what your story is all about.

If you however have a potential buyer in place, then it is advisable to reach out to them and inquire about their preferred page count when it comes to a film treatment.

Good luck!