How to prepare a winning treatment

When submitting a treatment you may be pitching against 10, 20, even 50 other filmmakers. Here are some key tips to making sure the client seriously considers your treatment!

Important: you know who you are and what you’re capable of, but the client has never met you. You treatment should show how you’re going to meet the brief both creatively (look, feel, style, content) and practically (methods, locations, cameras, budget). Ensure you have a great showreel that highlights your best work!

You’re a professional: Always write carefully and concisely. Use correct punctuation and spelling. Take the time to make sure you’re communicating your ideas with clarity and care.


Step 1 – Treatment Summary

This is your elevator pitch to get the client’s attention and make them want to read on. It should briefly but clearly describe a condensed version of your video concept in a sentence or two. Explain the main themes or ideas that the video will communicate, and why/how that works with the brief.

Step 2 – Style Summary

Describe the look and feel of your video. Focus on what’s visually exciting and compelling about your video concept. Talk about staging, location, lighting, hair and makeup, use of colour. Talk about camera moves, pacing and editing – and how this effects the overall feel of the video, as well as any technical information. Paint a picture so the client can imagine the look of your video. Then…

Step 3 – Attach Visual References

Now that you’ve described the style of your video, show what you mean. Add links to moodboards, images, videos – include as much as possible to help the client understand the tone and visual style you have in mind.

Step 4 – Your FULL Treatment/Script/Storyboard

Create a document containing your full treatment. Treat this like a professional document. Start with introducing yourself (you name, location, title) and a short intro paragraph (you could use the Treatment Summary and Style Summary here).

Next, include details on how you’ll make the video. A client will love to see things like: locations you’ve scouted or are familiar with, blurbs about your crew and cast, timings for production, gear you’ll use (or hire).

Then add sections with details of your full concept. This should include at least one of the following (but all three would be great):

– A detailed written treatment
– A written script
– A storyboard showing shots/scenes

Step 5 – Your Showreel

This is a hugely important step! Examples of your previous work speak for your ability to execute your ideas exactly how you’ve said you can. If you don’t have a showreel yet it’s important to get one together as soon as possible. A client will have real hesitation in selecting you to work on their project if you don’t show you can make great film!


So that’s it! Take your time and do a good, professional job at presenting your treatment and you’re much more likely to be successful!

To sum up:

– Be professional, communicate clearly
– Treatment Summary: your “elevator pitch”
– Style Summary: describe the look and feel
– Style examples: moodboard, images, video
– Full Treatment: introduction, then detail
– Showreel: put your best foot forward

Check out the latest Director Briefs to get started!


Photo credit: 3:19 (Flickr)