Is there anything that movies usually do right

Why the treatment plays a major role in the development of the material

The treatment shows whether an author can write and tell a story for film, television or a TV series. This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff.

The treatment is the hinge between the synopsis and the script. It is often a little beloved stepchild in material development. And yet its function is extremely important.

You have to know that

  • The aim of a treatment is to define the plot of a film or a series.
  • The film treatment, also called story treatment or synopsis, is a summary of your film and a preliminary stage to the later script.
  • It contains all the important scenes and the courses of action that give your film its shape and characterize your characters.
  • What is missing in the treatment are the dialogues and the specific form in which a script is written. The division of the plot into scenes is already there.
  • The treatment is written like a story, i.e. in prose.

What is a treatment for?

A film treatment has four important functions. These are:

  1. It is an important working basis for the author himself. Unlike the synopsis, it gives him an overview of the entire film count for the first time. This also shows the strengths and weaknesses of the action.
  2. The treatment enables a discussion about one's own story. Be it with other writers, potential film production companies or a script doctor.
  3. It can also be written on the basis of an existing script. This gives it the function of an analysis tool. Because the reduction also makes it clear where any defects are and what needs to be improved in the next step.
  4. The treatment is a milestone on the way to the script. This allows you to estimate how much work is still ahead of the author and how a first draft of the script can be expected.

Thirdly, they are usually read by experienced specialists. These are producers, directors or actors who are interested in working together later.

Most of the time you get an order for an exposé first. Or you write this at your own risk. If your film idea is convincing as a rough sketch, you will usually first receive the order for a treatment. Only when this is found to be good will you be commissioned to write the script.

How long does a film treatment have to be?

There is no mandatory length for a film treatment.

If you are writing a treatment without an assignment, you want to keep it short. The correct length for this is about ten pages. For this you choose a normal line spacing (not 1.5).

If you are writing on behalf of a production company or even a TV broadcaster that wants a TV movie, there is only one right way to determine the length: You ask how many pages are expected of you. The same applies if you want to enter the treatment for a grant or a script competition.

In summary:

  • A length of 1–10 pages is ideal for a first impression.
  • 10-20 pages are enough for a detailed treatment.
  • Anything more than 20 pages is considered extremely detailed. Here you have to consider carefully whether you want to expose your reader to this wealth of details.

James Cameron, director of Avatar and Titanic among others, usually writes his treatment with a length of 70 pages.

How do I write the treatment?

You should always write in the present tense. Imagine your movie is a short story and you tell it to someone. In order for the story to work, you will logically not only mention all characters, but also all the twists and turns in the plot. Likewise, you will choose your narrator voice so that it perfectly reflects the mood of your story. You do nothing else when writing the treatment.

There is one important exception to this. So that the reader can easily grasp the potential of your narrative, you leave out the secondary strands of the plot in the treatment. Or at least you simplify them if you can't do without them.

What you absolutely want to show in the treatment is the development of your main character, the story arcs and the challenges that your characters have to overcome on the way to their goal.

A treatment is excellent if the reader sees the story in his mind's eye from the very first sentence. Avoiding clichés or empty phrases helps here. It is better to work very consciously with the language. Even deliberately placed gaps, paragraphs and jumps can come together to form inner images.

What does the content include?

The scope of a treatment is just as freely determinable as the length. It is common for you to list the following points:

  • Title or working title
  • Your name
  • A subtitle (so-called tagline) that sums up the story in one or two sentences.
  • Comments on genre and implementation (optional)

As far as the content is concerned, basically everything belongs in the treatment that is required in terms of information to understand the story and to be able to love or hate its characters.

A film treatment does not include detailed descriptions of the characters, detailed explanations of the locations and, in general, everything that distracts too much from the story. The use of dialogue is FORBIDDEN. At most you are allowed to “travel” to a line of dialogue. The best way to do this is to use indirect speech.

Images, the use of different funds and endless text wastes without paragraphs have no place in this document either.

The difference to the synopsis

The synopsis “only” describes the outline of a story, its length and the genre. The task of the synopsis is to give the reader a sketch of how the film or series could be implemented.

Examples of treatments

The author's treatment "ID Theft" Craig Mazin was later filmed as a screenplay under the title “Identity Thief /“ Voll ripped off ”. The fictional film was a worldwide success with box office earnings of around € 157 million.

Treatment ID Theft by Craig Mazin

The second sample for a treatment comes from the two authors Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. Your idea for a film for "Sindbad" was never made into a film.

Treatment Sinbad by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio

Why producers and agents love treatment

Anyone who has to read film material daily or weekly for work is happy for every page they don't have to read. A treatment with ten or 20 pages is more popular than a script with 90 pages or more.

Because what does the reader want in such a case? Firstly, being able to assess as quickly as possible whether the material is of interest and what is good. Second, do not find out after 1 hour of reading that the author cannot come up with a convincing ending for his story. Third, if the work for the treatment is paid for, invest as little money as possible in something whose quality cannot be assessed in advance. Because even if working on a treatment is just as time-consuming as working on a script, the market compensation for it is significantly lower.

Precisely because you will be dealing with a large number of readers, it makes sense to focus on the text as well. A treatment should be read with pleasure and pleasure. The rhythm and change of perspective in the writing help, a lot of heart and soul, your own personal perspective on what you want to bring closer to the reader. What defines your personality as a car.

Disadvantages of the treatment

As a preliminary stage of the script, the treatment lays the rails for the later narrative. If you work the script on the basis of an approved treatment, you are bound to its content to a certain extent. This can make improvements more difficult because you don't want to lose the deal and, for example, the characters can no longer be simply exchanged. There are authors who find this annoying or even restrictive.


The importance of the treatment can only be emphasized again and again. It is a very important step because this is the first time you are telling the whole story from beginning to end. That's when you put your plot and storyline on the table in front of you. And unlike the synopsis, with a treatment you can no longer say that I will solve this problem later.

The treatment is always a moment of truth. In terms of your ability as a writer and the future of your film history.