Movie Treatment

A movie treatment is a short version of the movie script that is yet to be brought to life on the silver screen or in a script. Longer than an outline, it contains all the important elements of the story, has a beginning, middle and an end. Prior to breaking into the film industry, the screenplay has to undergo the treatment stage. It sounds like a short story, written in present tense and active voice. Basically there are two types of movie treatments, differing in the time they are composed and the purpose of their composition:

1. Original Draft Movie Treatment – This type of movie treatment is longer, of about 40 A4 sized pages. It contains all the details of scene-by-scene progression of the movie. Original draft treatment is typed using 12 point Courier font. This is usually written while the movie script is being composed and serves as a guide or a road map for the writer.

2. Presentation Movie Treatment – This movie treatment is written to make a presentation to the film makers to assist them to either accept or reject the story concept. Typed using the same style, a presentation treatment is shorter, only touching upon the key elements of the story. It is an ideal marketing tool compiled to further the pitch made by the writer. It may result in selling the idea of the movie script.

It is essential to understand all the attributes of a movie treatment to write at a high quality. Consider the following:

Features – The treatment must be compelling and exciting to read. The language used should help the reader visualize the story. Cliffhangers between the acts and well-framed characterization ignite the readers’ imagination and thrill. Treatments that are handed out must be free of errors of any sort.

Length – The length could be anywhere between a couple of pages to many more. The main consideration should be to serve the purpose for which it is intended. There exist a lot of discrepancies regarding the ideal length of a treatment for movies. A good treatment takes just as much time to write as a full-blown screenplay.

Potential – Writers in their nascent stage attempt to gain lime-light through treatments. They send out their literary creation to agents who would represent them to the movie makers. A completed screenplay is rarely read without a treatment. A movie treatment has better chances of being solicited.

Time of creation – It is entirely a matter of choice when the writer chooses to compile the treatment. It could be written before writing the screenplay or afterwards. It all depends on their plan.

Functions – Treatments are identical in sequence of flow as a movie script, and they make great marketing tools. The potential buyer gets an idea of the entire plot-line, the characters and the locations and deduces how much money would be needed to be invested. If the theme is worth the budget, he will go ahead and grab the offer. In such eventuality, he may buy the idea off the writer or ask him to develop it into the longer version — the script. A movie treatment may be used as a tool for publicity through the press. In this case it is made much shorter.

Practice writing a movie treatment. If you need additional help, read as much as you can and consider hiring a professional movie treatment writer. The professional writers can write the treatment for you, help, edit, and teach you how to write movie treatments.

Screenwriting – Why Turning a Book Into a Movie Is Tougher Than Turning a Movie Into a Book

One of my screenwriting Twitter followers asked me the question: Which is harder-turning a book into a screenplay or turning a screenplay into a book? Without any hesitation, I responded that it’ s much more difficult to turn a book into a movie.

For one thing, you have much less room to tell the story when screenwriting. A novel can be 80,000 – 100,000 words and more, and take up hundreds of pages. A screenplay must, with very few exceptions, run 90 – 120 pages, with lots of white space on the pages. Average word count is somewhere around 20,000 – 25,000 words.

The reason there is a strict page count when screenwriting is that the rule of thumb when shooting a movie is that one screenplay page equals one minute of time on the screen. It doesn’t always work out that way but you still need to be very careful with your page count.

So you can see the problem from the outset. Books have much more room to develop their stories and themes. They can spend a lot of time describing a scene or a character, and delve deeply into their backstory. Although it is important to keep an eye on page count because of production costs and marketing, novels have less exacting word counts.

Novels can be more flexible. They allow the writer to spend time on what interests them most. Novels also allow authors to have fun with the language, to show off their poetic flair, if they want to. For many people, including me, part of the joy of reading a great novel is the writing style of some of my favorite authors.

Novels can reveal what a character is thinking. In a screenplay, you can only write what can be seen and heard on the screen. Sure, there can be voice overs, but most producers and directors prefer not to use them unless they feel it is absolutely necessary for the story.

Screenwriting must be minimalist. Character descriptions tend to be very general, in order to allow for more casting options. Also, movie dialogue must be much shorter. Every sentence and every word must move the story forward in some way.

Novels have room for several subplots. The majority of movies only have one or two, if any. There’s simply not enough time for them to develop in about 90 minutes.

Another reason that the screenwriting process is so demanding is that the audience only has a quick moment to get all they can form each scene. When people read a book, they can go back a few pages if something is not clear. People can’t do that in a movie theater.

In novels, words tell us the story. In movies, images, along with dialogue, tell the story, but images are preeminent.

On the other hand, for the reasons already mentioned, turning a screenplay into a book is a much easier process. The writer can use all those ideas, characters and subplots he or she had to discard because of limited space and time constraints. They can have more fun with the language and more easily reveal the thoughts, emotions and motivations of their characters. If your novel is a few thousand words more than your editor asked for, you can probably get away with it. But if a screenplay is too short or long, it gets thrown away without even being read.

One challenge that a screenwriter may encounter when turning a screenplay into a book is that they now have to be more specific with details of locations and the visual appearance of their characters. So, although writing a novel is not easy, it is easier that writing a screenplay.

What Makes a Great Movie

So what makes a great movie, a movie that you will always remember? For me, I remember the very bad and horrible movies almost as much as I do the great ones, which unfortunately are very few and far between.

A very rare instance of seeing two movies in a row, one very bad and one great happened yesterday when I saw one of the best movies I have ever seen right after seeing a very bad movie happened. I don’t remember ever seeing two movies in a row before that were so different in quality.

The bad movie was the Interview, the controversial movie that was banned from theaters because of terrorist threats and even received some comments from the President of the United States. This movie was supposed to be a comedy and committed the cardinal sin of a comedy, it just wasn’t funny. There were grotesque scenes of human defecation after death, people biting other people’s fingers off during fight scenes, and plot and most scenes which just made no sense at all. What a tragedy that a movie this bad, one of the worst I have ever seen has received so much publicity. What amazes me most is that a movie this bad could have been funded by Sony Pictures in the first place.

The great movie I saw yesterday was the incredible story of Alan Turing, who during World War 2, literally saved the day by inventing a machine that was able to break the German code and because of that one event, shortened the war by 2 years and save 14 million lives. Turing was gay and was able to keep the secret that he was gay for most of the time they were building the machine, but at the end of the war, his secret was revealed and he was forced by the British government to take hormone pills to try and change him to be heterosexual. Soon after this, he committed suicide at age only 41. Turning probably had Autism but his brilliance was profound enough to save the world. I thought the story about the hard work and frustration over a period of 2 years with a team of 8 people trying to break the code very compelling. The final break through when they finally figured out how to get their machine called Christopher to figure out the billions of combinations in a much shorter period of time was one of the best parts of this great movie.

So the question is what makes a great movie? In this case, the first thing you need is a great story, and this is one World War 2 story that should have been told many years ago because in my opinion, it’s the best story about that horrible war I have ever heard. For a great movie of course you also need great writing and acting and this movie has that as well. The Imitation Game will definitely be nominated for best picture for 2014 and if I was a member of the academy I would vote for this great movie to be the best picture of the year.