TREATMENT 101

How To Be A Treatment Writer

A good treatment writer understands the value of pre pro. Probably the most critical step in pre-production is the writing of a treatment. A treatment is the director’s vision: a summary of the work that is going to be shot. A good treatment is not simply a sales tool… it’s your pitch. It must convince your client that you’re absolutely the best person for the job. That’s where the treatment writer comes in. Agency people and clients are extremely busy and have notoriously short attention spans. They don’t have the time to meet and discuss projects but they’re happy to browse through a 4 to 12 page treatment about the commercial you plan to shoot for them. This is their first glimpse at the material. You’ve got one chance to nail it. If they’re excited by the few pages of the treatment then they’ll be willing to award you the job. If they’re not excited, you’re out of the picture. There’s no standard form to writing a treatment. Every treatment writer has their own style. You just need to make it dynamic enough to pitch your vision, ideas and approach.

Life’s a pitch

Directing is highly competitive. One of the majors factors that determines if you’re going to get the job, is writing a treatment about how you plan to shoot the material you’re pitching for. Whether it’s a feature film, TV pilot, commercial or a music video, the process is very similar. Whoever is paying for the work to be produced goes through a pile of directors reels to arrive at a shortlist. These directors then have to write a treatment about how they plan to shoot the material. The director is the central decision maker in a production and the treatment covers what they plan to do. It goes into detail of the look they’re going for, branding, product use, how the sound design will play out, what kind of music they envisage, which actors they want to cast, wardrobe, locations and post … the list goes on. Everything that is part of the director’s vision should be included in the treatment.

Pitch perfect 

There is no set format for a director’s treatment other than the director should do the very best they can to get the job. Some treatments are a couple of pages, others include photos and still others are all singing and dancing digital extravaganzas chock full with images, visual and mood reels. Anything goes as long as it leads to winning the job. If you’re the producer or the director, it’s a good idea to write a treatment as a way of developing the idea in your head. The more you think and prepare then the more successful you will be. The secret is to treat it as if you’re writing it for someone else. And if you’re in a hurry or need some help, well… now you know who to call.

As a treatment writer, my job is to win your next job.

There I’ve learned three things in this business. People want what they can’t have. They chase what moves away from them. And they only value what they pay for. My role is to make you shine in three areas; expertise, enthusiasm and excitement. You could say that I sell self-esteem. I work for the best directors on the planet. I help them refine their creative vision, visual aesthetic and storytelling craft. I love to collaborate and my clients treat me as a creative partner. Having worked in 10 markets across four continents, I can get on with most types of creative and when the vibe clicks, it’s a match made in heaven. One happy director recently put it like this on Linkedin, “for busy directors and producers who want the highest quality of treatment, who need it written quickly and efficiently. Paul is your best option. Coming from an ECD level at agencies like BBDO and JWT, with 25 years of being the agency client; this man knows what agencies want to see and he delivers just that. Impeccable in his research, writing and design, Paul is first class. If you want to win a job, don’t risk your reputation with anyone else.” So… is using me is cheating? YES! Get that edge working for you now. Think of it like this. Just as a good director will use an editor, DOP or VFX artist, who get’s all the credit. Film is a collaborative medium. I work with A list directors for the best possible end result. They get the win. They get the glory, I’m happy with the cold hard cash and the satisfaction of a job well done. One client refers to me as his secret weapon, a kind of creative ronin, ready to slice and dice his competition at a moment’s notice. Don’t take my word on it. See for yourself. Click on PORTFOLIO and take a look at pitch winning treatments. And take a look at this film to see how I can help you. Like to see what all the fuss is about? Take your pick these recent examples for MACLipton,  GarnierNissan , Persil Godiva … and not forgetting Mini.

Plus here’s a full web series treatment for DANONE.

Directors’ names and production house details have been removed.

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And there are more at SAMPLES. Or email me at paul@ghosttreatments.com and we can get cracking….

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