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i scrolled through the topics on here and didn't really find anything to help, but i was hoping someone could point me in the right direction for some good treatment samples. i know usually they're maybe 5-8 pages consisting of small paragraphs that outline the major turning points in a screenplay. some contain dialogue too, i think. any advice, help, samples, etc. will be greatly appreciated. thanks!
Excerpt from Wordplayer Column # 37, by Terry Rossio:
"I would like to tell you that up is down, right is wrong, good is bad, long is short -- but I can't, because that stuff makes sense.
I'm tempted to say, 'Writing treatments is like designing a film by hiring six million monkeys to tear out pages of an encyclopedia, then you put the pages through a paper-shredder, randomly grab whatever intact lines are left, sing them in Italian to a Spanish deaf-mute, and then make story decisions with the guy via conference call.' But no... compared to writing treatments, that makes sense, too.
There is no understanding. Only truth. And here's the big one: You will write reams of treatments in your stay in Hollywood. And not a single word of any of them will be of any value to anyone. And still, you'll have to do them anyway."
Complete article here, including links to two outlines and one treatment.
I bought a book on just writing treatments but it wasn't very helpful. The easiest way for me to write a treatment is to write it like I was writing a short story and then convert it.
One of the best places you can find/learn to write Treatments is from the book SUCCESSFUL SCRIPTWRITING by Wolff & Cox.
I'm curious to know why you're asking. Unless you're pitching to a Studio or Prodco, rarely does anyone ask for a Treatment anymore. Even then, nowadays, you're paid to write the first draft of the screenplay.
One time, I was asked to write a Treatment of a screenplay I wrote by someone who was going to give it to their brother-in-law who's a "mover and shaker" name in Hollywood. The guy loved the script and since it was a major opportunity for me, I spent the weekend doing it. Then to find out on Monday that he'd gone ahead and given the script to his brother-in-law anyway--WHO LOVED IT! So, I guess you could say, as far as writing a Treatment--it was a waste of my time.
"A Treatment is a somewhat longer narrative story of the script. Their usual length is from 15 to 30 pages, double-spaced, and typically they do include some sample lines of dialogue."
I've seen some Treatments that were 80-90 pages long. I say WRITE THE SCRIPT--and only write the Treatment when asked and needed.
Perhaps we first need to define 'treatment'
I have come across numerous different ideas about what a treatment is. Apparently it is anything from a 6 line paragraph to, as Terry said, the same lenght as the script. Generally, it is whatever length it takes to describe the story.
In reality though, if a production company asks for 5 pages, we writers will find a way to boil it all down to 5 pages, or 3 or expand it to 20.
I'm with Terry also on the necessity of writing a treatment. I've not been asked specifically for a treatment for one of my scripts, but I have been asked for 3 pages or 5. Never more than 5 so far. My thinking is that if they aren't hooked into the story after 5 pages, 20 isn't going to help.
What I have done full treatments for were to outline the full story for collaborations, or on spec as a prelude to doing the script write for another person's idea to make sure we are seeing the story in the same way.
So if you have received a request for a treatment, I would suggest that you ask them what a good page length would be for them. Not only does it keep communication open, it also allows you to do the job the way they want it the first time.
:-) Best of luck
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