Film Courage: Ken of the many books that you’ve
written (and you have one you co-wrote entitled Writing Treatments That Sell and maybe you
can hold it up so people can see it’s cool cover there and first off can we define what
is a treatment? Dr. Ken Atchity, author/producer: Well, it’s
one of the things that Chi-Li Wong and I looked into when we wrote this book because we kept
getting asked that question by clients “What is a treatment?” We had to explain it over and over again and
then suddenly it occurred to us “What is a treatment?” ourselves? What is their definition? So we did a survey of about 30 execs in television
and film and asked them that question “How would you define a treatment?” And we asked them about 10 other questions
and we really based the book on their answers. And so basically the answer is that a treatment
is a relatively brief written pitch written story intended to be intended to be dramatized
for motion picture for film or television. And it’s written in user-friendly, grammar-free,
quick language that is easy to follow and it contains highlights the most important
characters events and the obligatory scenes in the story. So how long is the treatment? Relatively brief, three pages to let’s say
15 pages. Once it’s passed 15, 20 it’s getting no
longer relatively brief. There was no industry agreement on it. And basically treatments range from 5 to 10
pages (good treatments) and we recommend that because of the attention span of who you are
dealing with (the audience), your reader (the buyer). His attention span is limited and you do not
want to extend it because he wont be there or she wont be there at the end of the story
if you make it too long. So that’s basically what a treatment is
and it’s used for two purposes. It diagnoses the faults in the story. So you write a treatment of the story to see
your faults in it, so it’s a diagnostic tool and then you fix them and then it becomes
a sales tool because people are willing to read a treatment when they wont read a script
because a script is a serious engagement whereas a treatment can be read relatively quickly. And it’s used in every part of the industry
and it’s different from a synopsis because a synopsis is a dry fully detailed summary
of a story. You’d find a synopsis in a coverage for
example but the treatment is a pitch. It’s the substitute for a live pitch. I’m doing a webinar called Pitch Perfect
which is about pitching and when you get the rare occasion to do that. But now with the Internet, we are going to
do it virtual pitching so that people can actually pitch to a producer and get an answer. And a pitch is an extremely fortunate chance
to sell your story. And again you do not want to be prefacing
it with anything. You don’t want to reveal your personality,
that’s not what it’s about. You want to just tell how strong your story
is by showing the story and a treatment is the best you can do if you don’t have the
opportunity to pitch live. So the treatment replaces the pitch and is
what most people use and use it through email and any other method they have to hand a piece
of paper to someone else.

13 thoughts on “Writing Treatments That Sell by Dr. Ken Atchity”

  1. This is not at all what I thought a treatment was. I was under the impression that a treatment was an outline that others will see (others in this case being those who have already agreed that you should write the story). It makes me wonder what other elements of this business I have completely wrong.

    And I think I should buy the book.

  2. so sick of this… just read the damn logline and if you like it, read the damn script. If you don't, we'll both move on. A whole book on treatments? Geez…. just write people and hope you have a good story with zero grammatical errors then turn it in. Rub elbows with people who can help. Move to LA — who knows but just write your best stories. After all, writing is to help people heal and entertain not to read dozens of books on how to write. JUST WRITE.

  3. Ugh, another screenwriting book. The Misery Industry keeps going strong despite the fact that no one buys scripts anymore.

  4. Rule number one: don't mention the Camera in a treatment, directors don't like it. Rule number two: don't use cinematic jargon, it bores producers to tears and makes the poor little dears feel inadequate snd insecure.

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