Writing A Treatment

I get a call from April (not her real name): Hi Rich, Joe recommended that I phone you. My association wants to produce a video to go along with our new membership recruitment efforts.

Me: OK, sounds great. That’s all we do. Whatbs the content of the video? What’s its purpose, and what are your goals?

April: (Silence.)

Me: OK, tell me who the audience is, and how it will be seen?

April: Umm (then silence).

Me: All right then, why donbt we start this process by outlining a Treatment.

April: Good idea!

After a bit of discussion, I found out that April actually did have a detailed idea of what her video was to be about, and why her association wanted to produce a new one. She just needed some assistance getting to the next step in the production process writing a video treatment.

So, if you find yourself in need of a Treatment, and want some help, call me b or better yet, grab a cup of coffee, read the following (based on a real-life treatment), and start to write your Treatment. Then, call me.

So, what exactly is a Video Treatment?

Itbs a one or two page document, usually written in a narrative format, that justifies the existence of your video, lays its foundation, describes its content and style, and gives you focus and guidance throughout the entire production process. A Treatment should include most of the following information:

* The purpose of video
Example: The purpose of our video is to dispel the myth that cosmetic products contain harmful amounts of lead.

* The goal of the video
Example: The goal of the video is to counteract the negative press the industry has recently received by educating audiences about the lengths companies go to make sure that their personal care products are safe for consumers.

* Primary and secondary audiences
Example: Primary audiences are young women who are becoming increasingly concerned about ingredients in the products they put on their bodies each day. Secondary audiences are these women’s parents and grandparents.

Secondary audiences are trade group meetings, exhibit booths and the press.

* How and where it will be shown
(Here’s something thatbs becoming more and more common: Videos that are produced primarily for use on the Internet.)
Example: The video will be shown on a unique bvideo library web page, created to showcase the video. Therefore it can be seen by anyone at any time. This is sneaky with text.

* The concept, content or storyline
Example: This fast-paced and energetic video features an on-camera spokesperson giving the audience a behind-the-scenes look into three laboratories and manufacturing facilities in New Jersey and Texas. Here, we document the efforts that cosmetic companies take to ensure that their products safe.

* The style or visual treatment
Example: A fact-finding, journalistic style is used to convey the information via the spokesperson, who conducts interviews and does stand-ups in various locations.

* The length and format
Example: The video will be approximately five to seven minutes. Deliverables are a Betacam master and a digital file compressed as Flash media.

* The distribution method
Example: Distribution will be via the Internet and promoted using bvideo emails.

* The production budget
Example: We anticipate the budget to be between $X and $Y for this project. (Normally Richfield Productions includes a detailed Estimated Budget Summary with our Treatments).

Feel free to present the above information in any order that makes sense, and to add anything that aids in describing the video. We often include a detailed description of the talent and interviewees, more information on the locations, and specific graphic treatments.

Some of my clients prefer me to write the Treatment, based on a lengthy conversation webve had or on a brief outline theybve written. Others prefer to write the Treatment themselves and send it to me for a quick Estimated Budget Summary. Either way, the result is a very useful document that guides us throughout the production process.