Director Dagen Merrill On How He Got His Sci-Fi Thriller, ATOMICA, Made

by Ashley Scott Meyers

In this week’s episode of the podcast I talk with director Dagen Merrill. We talk through his process for finding a screenwriter to write the script as well as how he found funding for the film.

You can listen to the audio portion of the podcast by clicking here or through iTunes by clicking here.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:23+00:00 March 27th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

Beauty and the Beast Script (1991)

The original Beauty and the Beast script (1991) was written by Linda Woolverton with lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken. This script is labeled as the “First Draft.”

Beauty and the Beast was the first animated movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and remains the only animated movie to hold that honor from the period when there were only five best picture nominees.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-03-23T11:45:52+00:00 March 23rd, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

9 Story Lessons from Beauty and the Beast

by John Bucher (@johnkbucher)

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is taking the box office by storm, as it has every time a new iteration of the story has been released. We could chalk the success up to brilliant casting, memorable music, or simply the magical wand of Mickey Mouse. But those familiar with the power of narrative tropes know the real secret. Creatively employing timeless and universal elements of storytelling is what gives this tale as old as time it’s enchantment. Here are nine story lessons we can learn from Beauty and the Beast.

1. The Fish Out of Water

One of the first things we learn about Belle is that her village thinks she’s an odd girl. It is important that the protagonist doesn’t feel completely at home where they are. Otherwise, there is no reason to ever leave and seek the life that may await her elsewhere. This set up also allows the village to come to the realization that the girl they had dismissed as being odd was actually just misunderstood. Of course, this touches one of our most core psychological desires – to believe that when others view us askew, its their perception that’s off, not ours.

2. The Reverse Parental Role

While we immediately like Belle’s father, we quickly learn that he may need more care than she does. It’s Belle that must go after him when she learns he is in danger. She saves him from being caged for eternity when the Beast captures him, offering to take his place behind the iron bars. Again, at the tale’s conclusion, she leaves the world she has become comfortable in to go rescue her father. All these actions would normally be expected of a parent. However, in some stories such as this, it is the child who takes on the parental role. Psychologically, we connect this to an important step in maturing as an adult — when we recognize that we must care for ourselves and become our own parents, in a sense.

3. The Invitation to a Life of Safety

Aside from providing the story with a wonderful villain, the character of Gaston also offers Belle a life of safety. Choosing this life would mean never developing into the woman she images she could be. It means that she might never enjoy the creature comforts that a life with the wealthy Gaston would allow. It means that she would never have to fight her own battles. In good stories, strong protagonists will choose to take the road less traveled, though it will be dangerous and not allow a life of comfort. Only when we take the risks that these more treacherous journeys allow can we become the fully-developed people we are capable of being. We all must, at times, learn to choose what is best for us over what is easy.

4. The Unexpected and Ironic Relationship

In many ways, Belle’s relationship with the Beast would be the last thing we would expect. It begins with the Beast holding her captive and treating her poorly. Then, there’s the fact that she is a girl and he is a beast. However, throughout the story, the characters overcome what we would expect and defy the irony of their relationship. As an audience, we love to see characters who initially appear to have no romantic chances eventually find love, against the odds. It reminds us of the tenaciousness of love – how it often finds a way in the most unlikely of circumstances.

5. The Sacrifice

All of us have had to give up something we loved. Seeing characters do the same reminds us that we are not alone in making these hard choices, and that sometimes there are great rewards for making such difficult picks. When the Beast decides to free Belle to go and save her father, he knows he may never see her again. He gives up the very thing that has restored hope to his life and caused him to love again. There is power in watching a character develop passion for something or someone, only to have to give that thing or person up. In doing so, we are reminded that love cannot be caged, it must be free. When it later returns to us of its own choosing, we can be sure of its authenticity.

6. The Mysterious Magician

Though a minor character in the story, the Enchantress is very important. This mysterious magician initiates the catalyst that propels the story into action. Having a character who controls the fate of the protagonist allows us to be more deliberate in creating conflict. The Enchantress also restores order at the end of the story after the important lessons have been taught. Characters with this power serve as proxies for our relationship with the divine, the universe, and fate.

7. The Helpful Curse

In the beginning, the curse that the Enchantress places on the Prince seems like a work of evil, meant to punish someone whose heart is cruel. Over the course of the story, we learn that the curse is actually meant to develop the Prince into the man he was always capable of being. As humans, we need to feel as though the pains and trouble we experience in life actually have meaning. We need to believe that when we experience “curses,” they are actually developing us into stronger and better people in the long run. Seeing this principle become true in a character’s life affirms this for us.

8. The Darkest Hour

Story guru Blake Snyder referred to this moment as the “all is lost” moment. In Beauty and the Beast, Belle is betrayed and captured by Gaston while trying to save her father. The entire village is coming for the Beast with torches and violence in mind. It appears as though nothing could save Belle, the Beast, or any of the people in the story we have come to care about. Though somehow, in the midst of it all, solutions arise and good overcomes evil. This is what powerful writing is all about. Crafting our characters into the most impossible corners and then somehow helping them escape, against all odds.

9. The Restoration

While not necessary in every story, audiences generally love to see that which was bent crooked made straight. We love to encounter that which was lost become restored. We love redemption. Setting up impossible circumstances opens the opportunity for great emotional relief in the minds of the audience when we see people we assumed dead somehow live again, objects thought lost forever miraculously found, and love that we knew could never be given new life. This trope never gets old for audiences. It is at the core of who we are as humans. If we give people honest circumstances to overcome that feel as challenging as our lives tend to be, we will always cheer when the protagonist finds a way through the storm and lands safely.


John Bucher is a writer, speaker, and story consultant based out of Los Angeles. He is the author of several books including The Inside Out Story and Master of the Cinematic Universe: The Secret Code to Writing in the New World of Media. He has written for entities ranging from HBO to U.S.  Ambassadors. He teaches at The LA Film Studies Center and has conducted story seminars on five continents. He can be reached on Twitter @johnkbucher and through his site,

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:23+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

A Closer Look at Untitled: A New Note Taking App for Screenwriters

by Angela Bourassa (@angelabourassa1)

There are plenty of note taking apps that writers can use to jot down thoughts, snippets of conversation, and big ideas that occur throughout the day. But there are very few note taking apps designed specifically for screenwriters.

It’s founders describe Untitled as “Evernote for screenwriting.” I recently spoke to co-founder Stephen M. Levinson to learn a bit more about what makes Untitled a useful tool for writers.

Angela Bourassa: Can you explain why Untitled is a better note taking app for screenwriters than general note apps?

Stephen M. Levinson: Untitled’s core user experience is built around Editing and Previewing. Editing is where you write your notes, and Previewing is where your notes get previewed into scenes. The app was built to identify very specific elements that would only be found in screenplays, in order to convert them to scenes in the Preview window. In addition to adding, which can be best described as a markdown for screenwriting, we’ve built our own custom library that focuses more on note taking than just purely screenwriting.

Angela Bourassa: What are some of the other screenwriter-specific features?

Stephen M. Levinson: While Untitled can be used to write an entire screenplay, the focus for us is really about the main user experience. Screenwriting software can be overly complicated, when all screenwriters want to do is just write. We use a beautiful and highly legible customized font that is easier on the eyes than Courier when writing. For Previewing, Courier is right there.

Another of our core experiences is Focus Mode. It’s a little eyeball at the top of the screen that, when tapped, hides the navigation bar as well as the keyboard tools bar. By default we hide the status bar to give writers as much room as possible. Focus Mode takes it to the next level, leaving writers with a blank page and a cursor. With our beautiful font and Focus Mode, we’ve created an environment where writers can get lost in their imagination, instead of the app.

Angela Bourassa: One struggle with note taking is keeping thoughts organized so you can find them again when you need them. How does Untitled address this problem for writers?

Stephen M. Levinson: We’re constantly looking to improve the organizational experience within the app, which is why the most recently opened scripts appear at the top. When you re-open the app, you’re immediately brought to the latest note you were writing, so you can quickly add new ideas.

Angela Bourassa: Can notes be exported to screenwriting programs?

Stephen M. Levinson: Untitled can share notes to all screenwriting apps with a simple .TXT. Untitled is for everything you might need before starting your first draft. It’s a great tool to use in combination with your favorite screenwriting app.

Angela Bourassa: What are some features you’re hoping to add in the future?

Stephen M. Levinson: We’re currently looking at our road map for the year, but as we move towards new features or platforms, we’re really interested in what screenwriters need. A Google Docs-like dual editing feature is a great suggestion, as well as other platforms (such as Android). We have to see how and what our users request in order to determine what we should build. For us, feedback is the most important “feature” that will help define where we’ll take Untitled. We welcome any and all feedback and are extremely excited to help screenwriters organize and outline their best screenplays.

Untitled is currently available on the iPad for $14.99.


Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:23+00:00 March 21st, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

Producer Dallas Sonnier On How He Finds Screenplays

by Ashley Scott Meyers

In this episode I talk with producer Dallas Sonnier about his career as a manager and then a producer, and how he goes about finding screenplays to produce.

You can listen to the audio portion of the podcast by clicking here or through iTunes by clicking here.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-03-20T11:45:21+00:00 March 20th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

Review: Improve Your Screenwriting and Get Personal Feedback with PARABLE

by Angela Bourassa (@angelabourassa1)

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: one of the biggest pitfalls about being an un-optioned screenwriter is the plethora of ways that you can spend money in pursuit of your dream. Coverage, contests, conferences, courses, coaches, consultants, and other things that start with C… You could easily spend thousands of dollars a year in pursuit of your big break.

So you need to be smart. Think of the money you spend on screenwriting training as an investment, because that’s what it should be. You should be picking and choosing the places you put your financial resources as if you were planning for your retirement or your kid’s college fund. That means only entering contests that have the potential to advance your career, only working with consultants with proven track records, and only enrolling in courses that can deliver real value.

Parable is one of those courses.

Parable is an online course created by Tim Long, a produced screenwriter with nearly two decades of experience teaching screenwriting at the MFA level. In addition to his produced credits, Tim has sold pitches, been optioned, and had scripts in development with Academy Award-winning and -nominated producers. He was named a top six screenplay consultant by Creative Screenwriting Magazine, and he has distilled the core principles of his teaching into this course which includes a one-hour consultation with Tim in the price tag. More details on that below.

The Parable Process

Parable is taught in eight sections: initial stimulus, character, personality, heart, journey, form, outline, and write. Each of these sections is broken down into a video lecture, a written recap of the lecture, a downloadable guide in Word format, and a “workshop” – a practical exercise for implementing what you’ve just learned.

The goal of the course, as Tim puts it in the course overview, is to take the intuitive story ideas that we come up with in our heads and translate those ideas into well-thought-out story decisions. By holding our ideas up to the light and carefully examining them, this course gives writers a chance to take sparks and turn them into fully fledged characters and concepts ready to be written.

The process puts developing a dimensional character first and plotting second. As Tim puts it, “In order for the writer (and audience) to personally connect to a story, they have to connect to a compelling character with emotional resonance. So it’s a character first approach.”

If you’ve never written a script before, Parable gives you a step-by-step process for fleshing out your idea and identifying what Tim refers to as the five emotional building blocks of story: character, personality, heart, journey, and form. The course is designed so that you can start with a nugget of an idea and have a fully developed outline when you reach the end.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Wait a minute… At the end of this course I won’t have a finished script? I’ll just have an outline??”

Yes, and this is key. So many courses out there, both online and in class, spend just the first day/session/chapter on choosing your idea, then day two is outlining, and the rest is writing. These courses want you to be able to walk away with a completed first draft. This may seem valuable, but if you didn’t take the time to really think through your initial concept and whether it was worth writing at all, that draft will be almost completely useless.

(I say “almost” because even terrible writing is a valuable learning experience, but writing something with potential is obviously much, much more valuable.)

If you’re a more experienced writer, Parable is a great opportunity to learn a new approach to character and story development, to hone your skills, and/or to facilitate the development of your next project.

More Than Just a Screenwriting Course

At $299, the price tag for Parable isn’t cheap, but in addition to professionally produced video lessons, downloadable guides, and written recaps, this price tag buys lifetime access to Parable’s chat feature. This lets you chat directly with Tim via the website whenever you like. When he isn’t available online, you can email him directly. Both chat and email support are unlimited.

The course also includes a free script consultation. Tim will read a draft of your script, then do a one-hour Skype session with you to discuss your work.

This is huge. You could easily pay $299 for this service alone.

But with Parable, you get the consultation plus chat and email with Tim whenever you like and the actual course. If you’ve already written a script, you can do the consultation at the beginning, then go through the course with Tim’s personalized notes in mind. Or if you’re working on something new, you can do the consultation at the end to see what areas still need work. And then you can always go through the course again, because you’ll have lifetime access.

This sort of access to the instructor is unprecedented in online screenwriting courses and, frankly, quite amazing. Both the chat feature and the Skype consultation add immensely to the value of Parable.

To learn more about the course, visit You can check out the course syllabus here. We highly recommend it.


Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:24+00:00 March 16th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

Sons and Fathers: A Talk with Jovan Adepo of FENCES and THE LEFTOVERS

by John Bucher (@johnkbucher)

While Denzel Washington and Viola Davis brought Oscar acclaim to Fences, the supporting performances did not go unnoticed by those looking for the next generation of rising storytellers. Jovan Adepo played Washington’s son, Cory, in the film — a young man struggling to reconcile his relationship with his difficult father. Adepo has also gained notoriety for his portrayal of a son, Michael Murphy, with a very different relationship to his father on The Leftovers, which premiers for their fourth and final season in a few weeks on HBO.

Adepo sat down with LA Screenwriter’s John Bucher to talk about the stories around these two very different sons.

John Bucher: Can you speak about the difference between who Cory is in Fences and who Michael is in the The Leftovers?

Jovan Adepo: It was interesting getting to play both of those characters, because I was filming the final season of The Leftovers and Fences around the same time, so I was having to switch between characters often, but it was an interesting ordeal, because they’re both similar in a lot of ways, but they’re also very different, and I tried to make their personalities very different. I didn’t want people watching Cory to be like, “Oh that’s clearly Michael Murphy.” I did my best. They’re both genuinely good young men, and they want to do well, and they want to succeed. They want to make their parents proud. I think at the surface level, Michael is far more involved in the religious aspects of life, and I think Cory is so desperately trying to become his own man and develop his own ideal of what a man is.

Jovan as Cory in Fences.

John Bucher: Cory’s relationship with his father, Troy, is tough. Michael’s relationship with his father, John, while there’s separation there, there’s more connection. Why is that?

Jovan Adepo: I think the biggest thing is that there’s better communication between Michael and John. There’s still some aspect of Michael trying to express his passions and his ideals of what maturity and growth is to him. I think John has his own idea, but they still communicate. I think people who watch The Leftovers never feel that John and Michael don’t love each other.

Troy loved Cory as well. It’s just that he loved him the way that he knew how to love. But they really didn’t have much meaningful connection. The biggest conversation that they have, that has any weight, is about baseball. Because it’s something that interests Troy, and I think Cory knew that and desperately wanted to have that connection with his father. So, what better way to do that when he’s shutting down all your other conversations? “The Pirates won again today” opens him up. That was his way of doing it, so I think it’s interesting to compare the two relationships. I never really stopped to think about that, but I appreciate you bringing it up.

John Bucher: Cory obviously wants desperately to have his father’s approval, on some level. What lessons has he taken from Troy (because it’s very clear he is his own man)?

Jovan Adepo: I think the realization at the end would be to understand that you have to do the best with what you’re given in life, and Troy tries to hint to him early on in the film about that, by taking the crooked with the straight. Sometimes in life you don’t always get what you want. The dream is often deferred. Troy had everything lined up for him to be one of the greatest baseball players that ever played the game, but it just wasn’t in his cards. Call it fate, call it just bad luck or what have you, but one thing that he did do was he persevered. He came from prison and recharged his life, found love, and what did he say? He said, “I found you, and Cory, and a house, and I was safe.” He found something, so I think, at the end of the film, that Cory finds closure about his relationship with Troy, and that he is able to move on in life as a responsible citizen.

Jovan as Michael in The Leftovers.

John Bucher: When you get the script for a character like Cory, what is your process of taking those words on that page and beginning to embody this young man? How do you begin to understand the psychology behind him, and then bring him to life?

Jovan Adepo: Well, I think actors are very fortunate when they get a chance to approach August Wilson’s material, because he does a great job of creating that world, and creating those personalities for you, and he’s so specific that if you just follow that help line that he’s giving you and try your best to make it truthful to you, the rest does itself. It’s up to you to make it more interesting as far as informing yourself about what the character does, and what he lives outside of the script. That’s on you. But the beauty and the poetry and the rhythm is already in the material.

I feel like I had to do more work building Michael Murphy than building Cory, and that’s not to take away from Fences or anything. That’s just a testament to August Wilson’s brilliance, because I don’t know if I would’ve been able to come up with something as interesting as what August already laid out for me.

John Bucher: As you’ve mentioned, Michael Murphy in The Leftovers is a very spiritual guy.

Jovan Adepo: Absolutely.

John Bucher: Denzel and Viola (Davis) are both very outspoken spiritual people. There’s spiritual themes running through Fences. Without trying to get into any sort of dogma or even a specific religion, what do you see as sort of the spiritual through-line of Fences? Is there something that connects to you on a spiritual level?

Jovan Adepo: For sure. I think the most significant one to me is just having faith that family and that love and trust is what will get you through any problem that you have in life. Like we said before, Troy went through hell. I think one of the most interesting things that I heard Denzel say in an interview was when we first got the script for Fences, and he really was trying to figure out his take on Troy. He wrote on the cover of it, “from hell to hallelujah.”

That could be said of a lot of elements from Troy’s journey as a whole, or just Denzel’s understanding of what Troy is going through mentally.

[Denzel] started as a jailbird, coming out on his own, trying to live life and raise a family with no money. Cheating on his wife, and having a son that doesn’t listen… But at the end, when tragedy strikes, you kind of still get the feeling that there’s peace to be had. So “from hell to hallelujah” is something that really stuck with me, and that’s something that I hope people are able to grasp when they see this film.

Fences is available on video and on-demand. The fourth and final season of The Leftovers premiers on HBO on April 16, 2017.


John Bucher is a writer, speaker, and story consultant based out of Los Angeles. He is the author of several books including The Inside Out Story and Master of the Cinematic Universe: The Secret Code to Writing in the New World of Media. He has written for entities ranging from HBO to U.S.  Ambassadors. He teaches at The LA Film Studies Center and has conducted story seminars on five continents. He can be reached on Twitter @johnkbucher and through his site,

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:24+00:00 March 15th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

Academy Award Winning Producer Tony Bill On How He Finds Scripts

by Ashley Scott Meyers

In this week’s episode of the podcast I talk with Academy Award winning producer of The Sting, Tony Bill. We talk about how he found scripts in the early part of his career right up through his latest projects.

You can listen to the audio portion of the podcast by clicking here or through iTunes by clicking here.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-03-13T11:47:04+00:00 March 13th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

The Silent Treatment: When and Why to Write a Script Treatment

Some rights reserved by rorymarinich

photo credit: Flickr/ rorymarinich

by Ken Aguado (@kaguado)

Of all the forms of creative communication in Hollywood, none is more misunderstood than the humble treatment. It’s like the unloved step-child of a script, cursed with a name that sounds like a 19th century medical procedure.

Although the word “treatment” is often used in entertainment to mean any kind of short presentation document, I am defining it here as a document used to sell (or “pitch”) something in the film or television business. It’s a project summary, usually written in prose, that can run from one page up to… well, how much time ya got? I’ve seen thirty-page treatments, not that I’ve ever been able to finish one that length. And, depending on the intent, a treatment will include things like a project overview, filmmaker information, technical information, a logline, setting and/or historical information, main character summaries, and a detailed synopsis.

Of course, there’s no requirement that a treatment must only contain text, and some do incorporate additional visual elements. However, for screenwriters, all text is usually the norm.

But is writing a treatment really worth the time and effort?

For most Hollywood screenwriters, the answer is almost always “no.” There are a handful of exceptions, but writing a treatment as a stand-alone sales tool is rarely useful for the pros. If a screenwriter wants to sell a project, they either pitch it or write it.

This fact also syncs up with my experience as a producer and studio executive. In the decades that I’ve been working in showbiz, I’ve never bought a treatment nor had one influence my buying decision. Only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the projects sold will sell from just a treatment.

Despite this lack of viability, it seems to be an article of faith among film students and aspiring filmmakers that writing a treatment can be an important step on the path to success. Don’t get me wrong — I co-wrote a book about pitching, so I believe that learning to write a pitch document is a great skill to master. I’m just saying, most treatments are not the indispensable sales tool they are reputed to be.

[Use the code ATWAMKK4 for 30% off Ken’s book, written with Doug Eboch, The Hollywood Pitching Bible.]

For the record, the WGA defines a treatment as, “An adaptation of a story, book, play or other literary, dramatic or dramatico-musical material for motion picture purposes in a form suitable for use as the basis of a screenplay.” Additionally, the WGA specifies the minimum pay scale to write a treatment or sell one. As defined, a “treatment” can also be a paid step in a writer’s deal, but in this scenario, the writer has already been hired or has sold something, so it’s really more like a paid outline than a “treatment” as commonly understood.

So, that’s a good segue to talk about what a treatment is not.

A Treatment is Not…

A treatment is not a synopsis. A synopsis is a short plot summary. While a synopsis may be part of a treatment, it’s almost never enough to be useful as a sales tool.

A treatment is not an outline. An outline is a document a writer might create as a step in their writing process that is used as a guideline or “blueprint” for a script that will follow.

A treatment is not a “look-book” or “pitch-book.” In showbiz, a look-book is a document that contains visual references, such as photographs and artwork, usually as a supplement to something that already exists, like a script. Look-books are often used by film and television directors as a means of communication with their cinematographers and production designers. A pitch-book (sometimes called “pitch deck”) is a staple of the commercial world where they’re used by directors to add visual references to an existing script, conveying style, casting, cinematography, art direction, and other details.

A treatment is not a series bible. A series bible is a reference guide used by a television showrunner to catalog ongoing storylines and character details to help the production maintain narrative and logical continuity as their series unfolds.

The Problem with Treatments

Now that we agree on what’s what and what isn’t, let’s get to the heart of the problem with treatments.

While almost all established professionals sell their projects with a pitch or an existing script, it’s almost impossible for newer filmmakers to sell a project without already having a script in hand. If so, what’s the point of writing a treatment? You want a buyer to read your script, right? Isn’t your script the best, most complete representation of your intentions? All you need to do is come up with enough of a “presentation” to get someone to read it. In most cases, all you need is a good logline. Because of this, trying to get someone to read a five- or ten-page treatment first may actually be counter-productive. So instead of writing a treatment, learn how to craft a great logline and a very short verbal pitch.

When a Treatment is Useful

Now that I’ve thrown cold water on all your hopes and dreams, let me lay out a few scenarios where a treatment can be useful.

One caveat: While this article has mostly focused on the treatment as a stand-alone sales tool, there are situations where a writer or director will use a short presentation document as part of their “audition” to get a writing or directing assignment. If you want to call this a treatment, I won’t mind, but it’s usually supplemental to a personal presentation in these cases.

In the non-fiction filmmaking world — for example, documentary or “reality” projects — treatments are quite common. After all, most documentaries are “unscripted” until after they are shot, so a treatment can be a viable sales tool. A non-fiction treatment is almost always supplemented by visual aids, such as a sizzle real.

It’s not unusual for a book author to use a version of a treatment when trying to sell to a publisher. Yes, I know I’ve have been saying “film and television” in this article, but that’s only because I thought saying “media” every time would sound pretentious. That said, publishers often want to see a few sample chapters followed by a story summary before they make their buying decision. This document can look very similar to the treatments we peddle in Hollywood, and if you’re trying to be Tom Clancy, some of them can be quite lengthy.

Another useful version of a treatment is a “leave-behind.” Leave-behind is the colloquial name for a very short document you might give to a buyer/listener after a formal verbal pitch. The intention is to give a short, written overview to help the listener better understand what they just heard, or in case the listener must subsequently “re-pitch” the project to their boss. Although it might run only one or two-pages, a leave-behind is absolutely a form of treatment and should always be more than just a plot summary or your pitch notes.

You should be aware that there is some controversy about the value of leave-behinds. Here is an insider’s tip: consider offering to write one if you blew it in the room (it happens) or if the listener asks for it — but only one page, and write it after the meeting so you can tailor the contents to what you may have learned in the room.

A director pitching a music video concept to a band always uses a short treatment to sell their concept. This may sound like a rarified situation, but almost all music videos are sold with a treatment. It’s also very likely that this kind of treatment would be combined with visual references, especially if the music video will not be narrative in nature.

In animation, a treatment (often called a “scriptment”) is a commonly used sales tool. As the name implies, a scriptment combines a treatment with script elements. For example, animation scriptments are typically dialogue-heavy and quite lengthy. Scriptments are sometimes used in live-action feature films, but it is far less common.

A treatment might also be used if, for example, you’re a producer trying to entice a writer to come aboard a project that has a lot of historical or factual background. Handing a screenwriter a compelling treatment, culled from extensive research, is much better than saying, “Hey, here’s a link to Wikipedia.” A similar kind of treatment might be useful if you’re trying to sell your exceptional life story, even though you may have no interest in writing the script. In such a case, having a treatment to shop is much more practical than trying to tell your amazing tale to everyone you meet.


Now that I’ve saved you all a lot of time and effort, let me know what you think. Anything I left out?


Ken Aguado is a producer and co-author, along with Douglas Eboch, of The Hollywood Pitching Bible. Follow Ken @kaguado.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:24+00:00 March 9th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |