My novel, screenplay, and movie project which began as Father of The Grooms, as a first draft e-book, then as a screenplay under the working title of Until Death Do You Part, has now evolved into a treatment called more simply Blood Ties. This treatment is a 9-page condensation of the 110 page screenplay derived from the 370 page novel – a distillation of a distillation.
Treatments are designed to be quick reads so that a studio reader or potential producer can quickly decide if he or she would like to spend the time reviewing the entire script. The quicker, and easier, the decision can be made to option the script or pass it on for a more complete review the better for all concerned. From looking at the treatment the decisions are made:
A. Is this the kind of movie that I want to make at this time? Perhaps the studio has done three sports-related movies in the past two years and wants something else.
B. Does the story work. Is the plot set up so that events logically follow? No white-horsed hero needs to appear from nowhere to rescue the characters.
C. Are the characters diverse and appealing? Men and women of different backgrounds and ages need to have significant rolls.
D. Is it within the studio budget? A small studio might produce a $4,000,000 film, but not one that will cost ten times that amount.
E. Does the project offer visual appeal? Not often seen areas that are either built up or natural are desirable.
F. Is the project special-effects heavy? These add-ons are often very expensive.
G. Can it be filmed in a time-efficient manner? Films that take the characters through changing seasons require moving actors and or sets or planning to film throughout a year or more.
H. Does the movie somehow tell the viewer something significant about the human condition? What is the point of the movie.
The treatment is designed to quickly relay all this information in its sections which would include:
A. The working title, author, and date.
B. The Logline (A one-line description of the movie)
C. The principal characters.
D. A synopsis of the movie’s scenes which in tightly written paragraphs describes the characters actions and locations sufficiently so that the reader can follow the plot and how the characters face their challenges.
Although I know my characters very well and the details of the novel’s plot, working up the treatment took two days of writing to produce a document that I was satisfied with that met the conditions that it be in present tense, very tightly written, and describe the scenes sufficiently so that the reader could visualize the locations. There were times when I mentally wanted to include material that was in the book, but had been cut from the screenplay. While it would have been possible to write the treatment from the book, I already had the screenplay, and used it as the basis of my treatment.
While scripts are rigid in their formatting, treatments are not. I read a number of treatments on line and found them to be of different lengths, formats, and styles; although all had the same elements. I could easily see the merit of doing the treatment first , then writing the screenplay instead of the other way around. Another writer using the elements of the story would have produced a different treatment.
The significant points are that the treatment be fast to read, clearly show the progression of the story and character arcs, and be as brief as possible. Quoted passages are generally discouraged as are pictures. They have their place, but are best used to construct storyboards. Long passages describing motives, relationships, and settings are discouraged. The characters, their actions, and the locations are more significant.
This treatment is available on request to studio readers and representatives.