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The Treatment. Quick Review of the character. Again, you need to know your characters through and through – otherwise their actions and dialogue will not come naturally. . What is a treatment?.

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The treatment

The Treatment

Quick review of the character
Quick Review of the character

  • Again, you need to know your characters through and through – otherwise their actions and dialogue will not come naturally.

What is a treatment
What is a treatment?

  • A treatment is an scene by scene narrative description of your story.

  • A treatment may also contain a few camera shot suggestions and directions. This would give a producer or a director an idea of how to shoot the film.

  • There may also be some of your character’s dialogue involved.

A treatment should include
A Treatment should include…

  • The Play’s/Film’s purpose.

  • Theme (action, comedy, romance, etc.)

  • Background

  • Characters (their history, etc.)

  • A Basic Plotline.

  • Type of dialogue.

  • Summary of scenes in order.

Length of a treatment can be
Length of a treatment can be…

  • 6 to 14 pages.

    • Some treatments may even be longer than the script themselves.

Your plotline
Your plotline

  • Remember your characters flaws and the conflicts drive the plot.

Different types of treatments
Different types of treatments

  • In order to write your script you have to know what kind of theme/genre you are writing for.

  • Know the medium you are writing for – TV, Film, Internet.

Different types of content
Different types of content

  • The Soap Opera

    • Characters run into problems at least as basic as the viewers.

    • Make the viewers related to the characters.

    • Like life, a soap opera never ends.

    • Characters never change. They remain consistent.

    • Characters need to overcome odds.

    • Protagonist and characters should do thinks the viewers would like to do themselves but will never do.

Plot within a plot within a plot
Plot within a plot within a plot…

  • Soap Operas – must keep going by having a series of plots be presented within an episode or several episodes.

  • This creates drama and suspense.

  • This is what keeps so many people watching.

What is needed in a treatment
What is needed in a Treatment?

  • Concept Description or a Synopsis of your idea.

    • This tells the producer what sort of film this is and sets the tone for the film. It gives a very brief introduction to the world and the life of the protagonist and his/her goals.

What else
What else?

  • Theme: Outline the theme of the script, for example – action flick, guy gets girl. Basically this is a quick description of the type of tone you will set in throughout the film. This allows the producers to determine what kind of formula they will be using and whether it’s worth their time.

Introduce your characters
Introduce your characters

  • Character Bios – This would include the history and background of your main character (the protagonist) and the antagonist along with other supporting characters – i.e. their friends and family that will play a role in the storyline.

  • For the most part this can be done in a couple of paragraphs for each character.

Descriptions of characters
Descriptions of characters

  • In each of your bios it’s essential to go into some detail about your character – how they look, what their motives are and how they sound.

    • Are they creatures? Where do they come from?

    • Are they from a unstable home?

    • Do they have a flaw? A tick?

Synopsis outline

  • Depending on where you go these two are used interchangeably.

  • Synopsis: Outlines the plot of a book. This is done by breaking up the series of scenes into chapters.

    • Remember the Acts – Act I, Act II and Act III and other formats to assist you such as the Heroes' Journey, etc.

Dividing up the scenes
Dividing up the scenes

  • In each of the scenes (from beginning to end) you must have a description of what’s going on with your characters.

  • You must write what leads to certain questions and actions that drive the plot. If a characters says or does something a certain way you must describe it.

End with a resolution
End with a Resolution

  • Or the end of the film – the resolution your character may or may not change, depending on the type of film or show you are going for.

  • This description is brief but still detailed.

When writing the synopsis
When writing the Synopsis…

  • Remember that everything must have a sense of unity.

  • Don’t just throw scenes in there just to take up space.

  • The scenes you write should play a role in the story and the plot.

Different sorts of treatments
Different sorts of treatments.

  • Not every treatment is like the Sinbad treatment.

  • Some are not formatted in such a way and others are written in a manner that doesn’t make sense. And yet sometimes these get produced.

When writing your treatment synopsis
When writing your treatment/Synopsis

  • You must consider your characters of course.

  • And you must also consider the format for which you are writing for.

  • Different formats and different themes change your writing tone.

Samples of different formats
Samples of different formats…

  • The Soap Opera

  • The Sitcom – good comedy makes people think and feel.

  • The mini-series: Writer can bypass usual time restrictions of TV.

    Can include more characters and they can be explored more in depth and have subplots.

Different formats
Different formats:

  • The Adaptation: A work that is taken from novels or non fiction works.

    • Biggest problem is getting away from the original work.

    • Don’t follow the works action or dialogue – must adapt it for the screen.

    • In a written work everything can be explained but on the screen or on the stage everything must be shown.

The cartoon
The Cartoon

  • It has advantages because you can animate things that would normally be impossible.

    • The characters can do things that a normal character can’t. And the audience is ok with it because it’s a cartoon.

    • Outrages ideas are accepted.

    • Needs good satire to work.

    • Empathy still needs to be created for the characters.

Children s programming
Children’s Programming

  • Educational.

  • Have some drama. (Will Barney apologize for hurting Sarah’s feelings? How did he hurt her feelings? Will they be friends again?)

  • Know that these are usually about 21 minutes long and are usually on at a certain time.

  • Try to avoid stereotypes  This goes for any script or treatment you write.

Writing for the internet
Writing for the Internet.

  • Allows for interaction with polls and other variables.

  • Comes in the form of episodes.

  • The quality of writing has increased over time because more and more viewers are turning to the internet.

    • Becoming a place for certain niche audiences.

      • Sample: “House of Cards” and “LillyHammer”

On the format
On the format

  • Follow the Sinbad Treatment. This is a very basic sample used throughout the industry.

  • Also, don’t use fancy fonts to try to “stand out.” This screams that you are an amateur and indicates that you don’t know what you are doing.


  • Read through and study the Sinbad script.

  • Bring your character bios to class on Thursday and we will go over them.

  • Also – Think of your own idea for a TV or film treatment you’d like to write for your final. We will discuss on Thursday.

  • Read Chapter 10 of Hillard.


  • Come present what you have.

Coming up with a plot
Coming up with a plot.

  • In the past we’ve discussed this briefly.

  • In order to move a story along and to construct a treatment you must have an idea for your story.

    • So for example, in “Trading Places…”

    • What about Batman – Revenge for his parents and then it goes into becoming the hero of Gotham City.

    • “As Good as It Gets”

Coming up with a plot1
Coming up with a plot

  • Not as easy as 1,2,3


When coming up with a plot
When coming up with a plot

  • Think of your characters.

  • Their goals

  • If there is any personal growth on your protagonist side.

  • Think of the obstacles that will make it hard to get there.

    • NO obstacles = Boring movie.


  • When coming up with a plot think about where it’s set.

    • The Deep South? New York City?

      • Piece of Advice if you don’t know what you writing about you should do a bit of research.

      • Don’t use stereotypes as your go to.

      • Then of course there is the parody but even those references need to be accurate.

Importance of setting
Importance of Setting

  • This can make a difference in the character’s actions.

    • Need to make sure your setting make sense with your characters.

      • For example if you have your film set in the desert then you probably don’t need to have an action sequence out on the ocean.

      • You probably also don’t want to have your character wearing winter clothes if he/she is in the middle of the desert.


  • Let’s come up with a story here real quick.

We ve got a plot hooray
We’ve got a plot hooray!

  • Now, once we have our notes gathered, we have an idea of who are characters are and where they are headed and where this is taking place - we need to think of the details.

  • Recommendations – Gather your notes on your characters.

  • Gather your notes on the plot (that would be your Concept of your film. Summarize that in a paragraph or two.

  • The theme – romantic comedy, etc.


  • Using the “Sinbad” format for a treatment check out a Sitcom show or an episode of a mini-series. (Can be online or TV).

  • Watch it and format a treatment from it.