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Writing Film Treatments

By Author: Jesse Simmons

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Novices in the film treatment business must become adept at writing film treatments. Nurturing an idea is insufficient for imbuing it with life on the silver screen. You have to first put it down on paper and, keeping your fingers crossed, hope that it attracts the attention of a producer or an agent. A film is a motion picture captured by a camera using live characters, animation or visual effects given by the use of computers. Film making has evolved into a highly specialized form of art and a major industry today. The artistic, theoretical or the technical aspects are recorded in films that are a series of individual frames, creating an illusion of continuous movement. Writing film treatments requires fair amount of technical knowledge about the subject.
Creating treatments for films is a skilled job. The two main purposes that they serve include:
1. Marketing tool - Film makers, producers and agents receive hundreds of screenplays to read and evaluate. Going through so much of literature just to pick the best, is a task that most executives find a time-waster. Instead, were they to be provided with a general synthesis of each screenplay, it would simplify their work. A treatment is the first written manuscript of the film and has to be crafted flawlessly to make a good impression on the readers and potential investors. If the readers are suitably stirred, they may buy the idea (in the treatment stage) or ask for the longer version, the completed script. Either way you stand to gain financially by writing film treatments.
2. Diagnostic tool - Once an idea is found palatable through a pitch presented by the writer, he is asked for a written description of how he plans his film to run. A concise beginning, middle and end, with the basic introduction to the important characters give the decision-makers inkling as to if the feasibility of the project. They look closely at the different aspects of the intended film, such as the storyline, funds required, number of locations, characterizations and most importantly, the probable reaction of the viewers. The writers too can find out the viability of their idea. By writing film treatments, writers get to see the possible errors or breaks in the smooth flow of their stories. They can take corrective actions before proceeding to the next step - writing of the long script.
In order to make your treatment a page-turner, pay attention to a few points while compiling and presenting it:
- Do not forget to include all the important elements of the story that affect its rhythmic flow.
- There is not necessity of inclusion of dialogues unless they play a pivotal role in the film.
- Writing film treatments should be done in present tense, maintain an active voice.
- Be brief. Readers are running against time, so refrain from boring them to tears by lengthy details.
- There are certain fixed formats that the individual executive wants in the treatment you submit. Ask them about it before handing in your work for approval.
- To avoid any controversy at a later date, register your treatment with an authoritative body such as the Writers Guild of America.

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