Film treatment

Film treatment

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A film treatment is a piece of prose, typically the step between scene cards (index card
Index card
An index card consists of heavy paper stock cut to a standard size, used for recording and storing small amounts of discrete data. It was invented by Carl Linnaeus, around 1760....

s) and the first draft of a screenplay
A screenplay or script is a written work that is made especially for a film or television program. Screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are also narrated...

 for a motion picture, television program, or radio play. It is generally longer and more detailed than an outline (or one-page synopsis
A summary, synopsis, or recap is a shorter version of the original. Such a simplification highlights the major points from the much longer subject, such as a text, speech, film, or event...

), and it may include details of directorial style that an outline
An outline is a list of the main features of a given topic, often used as a rough draft or summary of the content of a document. A hierarchical outline is a list arranged to show hierarchical relationships, and is a type of tree structure....

 omits. They read like a short story, except told in the present tense and describing events as they happen. There are two types: the original draft treatment, created during the writing process, and the presentation treatment, created as presentation material.

Original draft treatment

The original draft treatment is generally long and detailed. It consists of full-scene outlines put together. These are usually more than about 30 standard letter size
Letter (paper size)
Letter or US Letter is the most common paper size for office use in several countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, the Philippines, and Chile. It measures 8.5 by 11 inches ....

/A4 pages (Courier
Courier (typeface)
Courier is a monospaced slab serif typeface designed to resemble the output from a strike-on typewriter. The typeface was designed by Howard "Bud" Kettler in 1955...

 New 12 point), less than about 80 pages, and an average of about 40 pages. For example, The Terminator
The Terminator
The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, co-written by Cameron and William Wisher Jr., and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. The film was produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures, and filmed in Los...

original treatment is 44 pages. More elaborate forms of the draft treatment are the step outline
Step outline
A step outline is a detailed telling of a story with the intention of turning the story into a screenplay for a motion picture....

 and the scriptment
A scriptment is a written work by a movie or television screenwriter that combines elements of a script and treatment, especially the dialogue elements, which are formatted the same as in a screenplay. It is a more elaborate document than a standard draft treatment...


Presentation treatment

Generally the scene card descriptions are written out in order. These only have the essential and important story events that make up the scenes. It's the full story in its simplest form. Usually starting with the concept
The word concept is used in ordinary language as well as in almost all academic disciplines. Particularly in philosophy, psychology and cognitive sciences the term is much used and much discussed. WordNet defines concept: "conception, construct ". However, the meaning of the term concept is much...

, then the theme
Theme (literature)
A theme is a broad, message, or moral of a story. The message may be about life, society, or human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and are almost always implied rather than stated explicitly. Along with plot, character,...

, then character
Fictional character
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art . Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr , the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of...

, and also the detailed synopsis of about 4–8 pages of master scenes. This is either to show how the production notes have been incorporated into the screenplay for the director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

 and production executives
Film producer
A film producer oversees and delivers a film project to all relevant parties while preserving the integrity, voice and vision of the film. They will also often take on some financial risk by using their own money, especially during the pre-production period, before a film is fully financed.The...

 to look over, or to leave behind as a presentation note after a sales pitch. This would be the treatment to send if a script submission requires one. These are usually more than about 3 pages, less than about 30 pages and an average of 7–12 pages.


Treatments are widely used within the motion picture industry as selling documents, whereas outline
An outline is a list of the main features of a given topic, often used as a rough draft or summary of the content of a document. A hierarchical outline is a list arranged to show hierarchical relationships, and is a type of tree structure....

s are generally produced as part of the development process. Screenwriters may use a treatment to initially pitch a screenplay, but may also use a treatment to sell a concept they are pitching without a completed screenplay.

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