the BIG ideaWhat is the film about? What makes it different? What makes it fresh and evocative? What is the filmmaker’s purpose or goal? Why THIS film?
the ConflictWhat is the source of conflict in the story? What is the struggle of the main character? Who or what is pitted against them? What obstacles must they overcome? What threats do they encounter? What are the source of this threats? Do they come from others or from the character herself? By what means is this conflict presented and played out in the film?
the Presenter / or Main Character/sWhat special qualities does the presenter (or main character/s) bring to the film?
the AudienceWho is the film addressed to? To whom is the filmmaker speaking? ‘Everyone’ is not sufficiently specific. Who you are talking to has a very important bearing not only on what you present but the way in which you present it.
the Actual TreatmentBegin with a one-sentence description of the basic story that presents the central character and the story that the character/s, images and sounds dramatise during the film, from beginning to middle to end.
This “topic” sentence, which introduces in general terms the central character, dramatic issue/s and ultimate outcome (or resolution) of the film, may require some elaboration in the introductory paragraph.
Describe in detail the person or persons that are interviewed, the places that will be visited, the topics that will be discussed, the areas of conflict that will help to bring the story to life.
Written in the present tense. (e.g.: “Christina talks about her life as an artist…”, rather than “Christina will talk…” or “Christina was an artist for many years…”)
Hence, one might write: ‘The film opens with the central character/presenter, Christina Conrad (67), in the middle of a wild cactus garden, attired in rather eccentric, hand-made clothes. She shakes one of the large cactus plants with her hands as in VOICE-OVER we hear her tell us of an injustice that was perpetrated on her when she was in her early 20s.” … and so on..
Treatments are usually a narrative, and do not use technical language or jargon. There is no need for camera angles or similar detail. It is an outline of the content, and the emphasis should be on making it as interesting and compelling as possible.