TO TREATMENT OR NOT
by Michael Chasin
Most decision-makers—in any business—don’t have time to read.
So they instead rely on executive summaries—which are usually no more than one or two pages that describe the key, high level concepts of the project.
Hollywood executives have their own executive summaries—called treatments.
A treatment is a two or so page narrative that describes a complete screenplay.
Included are the premise, hero, central problem/goal, and obstacles—emphasizing the set-up in the first act—and summarizing the second and third acts.
Treatments may be also be—leave behinds—after a verbal pitch.
Good stories in treatments abound—but far less bountiful is the skillful execution of treatments in the form of fully realized screenplays.
Writers with proven records can present treatments in lieu of scripts—with studio decision-makers certain that that writer can deliver that concept in a developed script.
However, the busy executive will likely not read the treatments of new screenwriters—as their ability to execute is unknown.
So…should newer writers spend their precious time and energy in carefully crafting treatments?
The answer is clear—perfect your screenplay.
Perfect even more so—the first five pages—that can serve as the treatment.
An artful script will—in its first five pages—do everything a treatment does—while also demonstrating your skill as a writer.
As an objective test of your screenplay’s worth, you may create a treatment—but never as a substitute for writing your great script.
After a few winning scripts—a treatment may be all you need.
Photos: screencraft.org, adventfilmmakers.org