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The Treatment

Lesson 21 from: Screenwriting for Film and Television: How to Begin

Julio Vincent Gambuto

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Lesson Info

21. The Treatment

In this lesson, we’ll look deeper at the “treatment” and how to use it as a sales tool.
Next Lesson: Deepening Your Work

Lesson Info

The Treatment

I want to pause for just a second and talk about treatments. I've used that word a lot, and I want to be sure that, you know, and are clear about what they are and how they're used. So a treatment is a summary of your story, right? It could be a page, four pages, eight pages, etcetera, etcetera. A treatment is a really efficient way to communicate your story and to develop it creatively. So whenever anyone says, Do you have a treatment on that, or have you written the treatment? Yet The treatment is just a summary document of your screenplay. I prefer to write it first to make sure that all of my story is intact before I even start scripting, sow the seed descript process that I just showed you. That's about starting with a seed of an idea and growing it to a treatment, nailing that treatment before you move on toe. Actually, scripting treatments are a story process, a creative process to make sure that your story design is intact for you. The writer. It's also a sales document, right?

You're you're sort of sending it over to a creative executive or someone who works in a studio or someone and an agency or a management company who might represent you as a writer. It's a lot easier for them to read treatments so they wind up becoming sales documents, right? They are the idea on a piece of paper fleshed out the way you would write it, or eventually the way that you would direct it if you're a director as well. So their story documents created documents. They're also sales documents. They can include dialogue. I used dialogue a lot in my treatments. Sometimes I'll just put it in the paragraph form. Or sometimes I'll just skip a space on, put the line of dialogue and then come back to my prose. You don't wanna overload your treatment with dialogue, but having dialogue in there is really helpful, so you can start to hear what some of these characters sound like. Or if there's a line that particularly exemplifies or reflects what that story point is, totally put it in. Just don't overload your treatments with dialogue. They really should be pros documents. Next, make sure you're clear, happy love every word of your treatments as you grow them in the seed to script process as you work with them as you send them out to people. As you get feedback on them, make sure that you love your treatments, because when you get to that point where you've got that 12 page treatment that you're madly in love with, I promise you writing the script will be that much more fun cause and effect the treatments a great place story wise to make sure that every scene causes the next scene, meaning that every scene in your movie or in your TV show should give birth to the next scene. Meaning whatever happens in this scene is the reason that the next scene exists, right? I goto a and A causes B and because of be that causes C and because of see that causes de, make sure that that cause and effect relationship is really active in your treatment. So if you're looking at your story in four pages, three or four paragraphs on a page every time a paragraph ends, you should know okay, that causes now the next paragraph. What has happened at that point in the story has caused the character to then do this so earlier when we were talking about progressions and talking about when the character pursues their want. But they come up against conflict and they're sort of beaten down a bit. And then they choose a new tactic and they go after their want again, right? That should all be cause and effect. Meaning whatever happens, they respond to it, and that causes them to take their next action. That's really clear in a treatment. Then you're gonna have a much easier time in your movie in your script progressions we talked about and then fundamentals again. When you've got your treatment, a really fun exercise is to go and bold all of your story fundamentals. Right? Go into your treatment. Be like Okay, Great. This is my eight page document of my story Just bowled all the story fundamentals. This is the setting where I set it up. This is the hero. This is the hero's want. This is the villain. This is where the conflict starts. This is where the conflict progresses. This is the angel. This is the gift. This is the before state. This is the after state. It's a fun exercise to confirm for yourself that you've included those things that you fleshed out those things. That your story, that you've gone deeper and that your story reflects all of those story fundamentals. And lastly, the way their treatments work in the business is important. I've had friends sell ideas and sell scripts based off of treatments right where they have either written an article and then ah, company will ask for the treatment. How would they do that as a movie? And they've sold a movie idea based on a treatment, so it can really be a sales document. There are others who have to go write the script where they write the script on spec. They don't get paid to write the script, but they write the full script. Then that becomes the sales documents. Other people who get hired because their last script of their last movie was fantastic. People get hired in many, many different ways. People sell their work in many, many different ways. I think it used to be 20 years ago, especially when I was starting out, um, that there was sort of a really prescriptive way that things got sold in the business. There was a really active spec market, meaning that a lot of the studios and production companies were buying a lot of speculative scripts. Now that's changed a bit. The business of it today is such that it really is a matter of how can you get attention from a buyer from a manager from an agent from a production company? And how can you captivate them? So if you can captivate them in a paragraph, go for it. If you can captivate them in a treatment, go for it and you can captivate them in a script, etcetera, etcetera. But just remember, that script is really long for somebody to read. So if you get their attention with the treatment, it will serve you really well. Um, let's move forward. I wanna talk about deepening your work next.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Case Study Films
Story Analysis Template.xlsx
Sample TV Scripts
Story Design Worksheet
Story Fundamentals Worksheet
Seed to Script Process

Ratings and Reviews

Carlos Sandoval

Just a great way to start on your path to screenwriting. A clear and concise class with a friendly tone and humor. I think it is important that a teacher has actually worked in the field. Kudos.


Perfect for a beginner or actors who need a better understanding of what is and why is. Info packed and FUN too!

Asem Nurkina

I took this class last year. And after one year of working with presented tools (story design worksheet, story fundamentals workseet, seed to script process) on different projects I can say that it is very powerful and useful course I ever taken. I can strongly recommend this detailed screenwriting guidance by Julio Vincent Gambuto.

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