Film treatment examples: How to write a treatment?

If we ask what a film treatment is, we can define a film treatment as a text that tells key events in a screenplay in the present tense. You can make character analysis in the treatment and explain the relationships between the events. Accordingly, a film treatment can be defined as a summarized version of a screenplay by interpreting events.

A film treatment is written by following the events in the screenplay respectively. But it is not always necessary to have a finished screenplay to write a film treatment. Even when there is no screenplay, you can start writing your planned events in the form of treatment, and then elaborate the story on the basis of this treatment. It’s all about the way you work.

When writing a film treatment, you can use the 5W1H method mentioned earlier in the synopsis section: By using what? who? where? when? why? how? questions you can reveal the main elements of events and actions.

Characters

In a film treatment, you can introduce your main characters at the beginning of the treatment. To do this, you need to define the characters with their general and special features, as we did in the synopsis section. For example, the main character of the film Time to Love (1965) was described as ‘Halil (35) who lives by making the interior decorations of the houses and falls in love with the photograph of a woman that he sees in one of the houses he decorated.’ To learn how to define a character, check the synopsis section: Synopsis examples: How to write a synopsis?

In addition to this, in a film treatment, you can also briefly analyze the character. This means that you can provide information about the character’s background and temperament. But this information should support your story. For example, we can talk about Halil in the treatment as follows:

Halil (35) who lives by making the interior decorations of the houses and falls in love with the photograph of a woman that he sees in one of the houses he decorated is a lonely man. For the past year, Halil has been sneaking into the house and watch the photograph for hours.

We defined Halil as a lonely man and mentioned his habit which directly deals with the events in the story. You can also define other characters where they appear in the screenplay according to the flow of events. However, you do not need to identify the side characters as detailed as the main characters. In addition, since the side characters may appear in the middle of the treatment, it is a good choice to define them in a single sentence in order to maintain flow. In the following, we will share an example of this topic.

Character analysis

You do not need to follow a certain pattern when writing character analysis. Many alternative definitions can be made. For example, it may be necessary to talk about a moment in your character’s childhood. Character analysis is not a technical process in a psychological sense, it is a brief introduction that you should write as you tell about a friend to another person. The point you should pay attention to is that your analysis is limited to 2-3 sentences. Because it is better to introduce the character through his actions which means events on your screenplay should be well constructed to reveal the character. We think that you can introduce the characters much better by focusing on events and the character’s response to these events. Therefore you don’t need a detailed character analysis.

Events and actions

After defining the main character, all you need to do is write the character’s actions and events in the present tense. In doing so, you should express the character’s actions without elaborating and not include dialogues and depictions. But instead, you can explain the relationship between events. For example, suppose you describe a character entering a house in the screenplay. We are not familiar with the house and character but we will learn about them indirectly, perhaps through scenes or dialogues to be described in the screenplay. However, in a film treatment, you can directly talk about who is your character is and what is his purpose.

In order to see the difference between a screenplay and film treatment, we will prepare the opening scene of the film Time to Love (1965) as a treatment that we wrote earlier in the script format. We recommend that you watch the first part of the scene before proceeding:

Now let’s remember how this part of the scene looks in script format:

film treatment
film treatment

How can these scenes take place in a film treatment page? There is no other information in this part of the scene that a man sneaks into a detached house and watches a photograph of a woman. So we just need to write a sentence like ‘Halil sneaks into a detached house and watches a woman photograph’? No, this sentence can only be a reference. Because treatment is an area where we need to tell who Halil is, why he entered that house and what is his relationship with the woman in the photograph.

Let’s put a comma here and watch the second part of the scene where we will encounter the other main character:

In the second part, three women enter the house, women notice the music, and one of the women, Meral, meets and talks with Halil in the room. So we have only action and dialogue. But in the treatment, we need to include details of who these three women are and why they came.

Film treatment example

Firstly, let’s introduce the characters and start writing a film treatment:

Halil (35) who lives by making the interior decorations of the houses and falls in love with the photograph of a woman that he sees in one of the houses he decorated is a lonely man. For the past year, Halil has been sneaking into the house and watch the photograph for hours.

The woman in the photograph, Meral (25), is the daughter of a wealthy family living in Istanbul. His family uses the house as a summer residence.

Now, let’s look at the scene as a whole and ask the right questions to define the event in the present tense. For example, why does Meral come home and what does she come across?

One autumn day, Meral visits the house for a weekend trip with two friends of her. She encounters Halil who secretly watches her photograph in the living room.

What does Halil do? What does Meral respond to?

Halil introduces himself, saying that he is not a burglar. Meral responds calmly and lets Halil leave.

The scene ends here. Let us examine the chapter we have written so far as a whole:

Halil (35) who lives by making the interior decorations of the houses and falls in love with the photograph of a woman that he sees in one of the houses he decorated is a lonely man. For the past year, Halil has been sneaking into the house and watch the photograph for hours.

The woman in the photograph, Meral (25), is the daughter of a wealthy family living in Istanbul. His family uses the house as a summer residence.

One autumn day, Meral visits the house for a weekend trip with two friends of her. She encounters Halil who secretly watches her photograph in the living room. Halil introduces himself, saying that he is not a burglar. Meral responds calmly and lets Halil leave.

Side characters and events

The next thing that needs to be done is to handle this logic and introduce other characters when necessary. For example, let’s say Halil came across a new side character named Basar in the middle of the screenplay. You can also identify the character with his age and a short description:

Halil meets Basar (30) in the shooting range. He is a man with childish behavior.

If there is no important function in the story and will not be seen frequently in the following scenes, you do not need to identify each character by name. For example, we did not introduce two women who come to the house with Meral.

This recommendation for side characters also applies to side events. Not all events in the script need to be treated. We recommend that you include only relevant events that you think are important. The link between events does not always have to be sequential. For example, an event you process on the first page is linked to another event on the last page and can make a meaningful whole.

Why film treatment is important?

  • A film treatment informs the other people significantly about your screenplay and your idea. This is why you can apply to most screenplay funds and development workshops by writing treatment without a screenplay. Since the screenplay is a technical text, understanding the relationship between the scenes requires some effort. However, in the treatment, the causal relationship between the events and the motivations of the characters are presented directly. This allows you to provide less effortful and more understandable content.
  • In a film treatment, you can highlight the parts that you think will attract people’s attention. For example, there may be a long opening sequence that is important to you in your screenplay but it may strain the reader. This section, which takes a long place in your screenplay in which the reader should make effort, can be explained in a few sentences in the treatment and you can prevent the factors that will create a handicap during the evaluation.
  • A film treatment is also a useful working text. It allows you to view your screenplay with a wider angle. Treatments can serve as a draft before you start writing a screenplay and making it quick to share ideas with colleagues.
  • A screenplay is written primarily for a producer, director, and actor. But remember, we are now at a time when heterogeneous teams run corporate funds and selective committees. Each of these evaluators is not a director or producer, so with a film treatment, you can easily convince people who are not familiar with a technical text such as a screenplay.

Film treatment format

To improve the readability of a film treatment, you can follow these recommendations:

  • Use Times New Roman, 12 pt, 1.5 line spacing.
  • Make at least 2 paragraphs per page.
  • Do not exceed 10 pages in total.

Last but not least, while it is possible to find well-written screenplays on the Internet, unfortunately, it is not possible to find well-written treatment examples. Therefore, rather than working on ready-made treatment examples, it would be a much more accurate decision to make your own example from scratch with the advice given above.

So this is how we completed the treatment section. If you want to examine the script format of the scene we prepared as an example of treatment, check our article: Script example: Practical scriptwriting

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Film treatment FAQ

What is a film treatment?

A film treatment is a text that tells key events in a screenplay in the present tense.

What is included in a film treatment?

You can make character analysis in the treatment, talk about the motivations of the characters and explain the relationships between the events. Accordingly, a film treatment can be defined as a summarized version of a screenplay by interpreting events.

What is not included in a film treatment?

Visual expression and dialogues are not included in a film treatment.

How to write a film treatment?

A film treatment is written by following the events in the screenplay respectively. But it is not always necessary to have a finished screenplay to write a film treatment. Even when there is no screenplay, you can start writing your planned events in the form of treatment, and then elaborate the story on the basis of this treatment. It’s all about the way you work.

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