By Priscilla Jimenez
Filmmaker / Los Angeles, CA
WHAT IS A TREATMENT?
A director’s treatment or treatment is a multi-page document which helps communicate a director’s vision to a collective group of individuals involved on the project. While it can take many formats by and large the standard is a well designed multiple page document containing information which has been carefully curated by a director. The goal of a treatment is to convey everything the director is thinking visually in an effort to get everyone working on the project (e.g clients, cast, crew and any additional stakeholders) to align on the vision.
A treatment is important mainly because as creatives we craft an idea and vision and assume that everyone else around us has that same vision or at the very least understands our vision. Even the most creative minds have different ways of interpreting the right focal length, filter or talent; it can never be assumed that everyone else on the projects can “see” our vision – this is why treatments are critical.
A treatment can have many different contents depending on the project. However, there are a few general contents that should be included no matter how detailed the treatment may be. Every treatment should include an objective which should include a written statement on what you want the audience to take away after watching your content. An objective is important because it clearly sets the tone for all of the other elements in your treatment. For example if you want the viewer to take away a vibrant positive message then your “moodboard” pages would be filled with bright colorful images – more on moodboards later.
Once you have an objective the next few elements should contain a few visual elements on how you intend to achieve said objective. This is usually a moodboard, storyboard, lighting references, color references, etc. While I agree that a storyboard is very important, I personally tend to lead with a moodboard to set the overall tone for the film. For a moodboard, I like to select images that show off lighting, overall ambiance (time of day, furniture, color, etc) and a bit of talent interacting with the scene. Once mood is established then I go in with a storyboard.
A storyboard can be as detailed as you want. Sometimes they are fine renderings sometimes they are loose images with copy that reiterates the scene. A storyboard is important because it helps you create a sequence of events for your cast and crew to follow. It’s important to note that a storyboard can potentially change, the most important thing is to remember that these things are flexible.
After a storyboard I like to follow up with talent headshots. A minor thing if you’re working in the documentary space but either way rounding out your treatment with talent is a great way to end off.
As creatives we look forward to getting into production, however it’s important to get everyone on and off set comfortable with vision and execution. In order to make sure everyone sees what you see, you have to visualize it and this is where a well-crafted treatment comes into place.
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