A Sample Screenplay Treatment - ALT News
A treatment is a fundamental writing structure that any writer who is even remotely interested in writing for media (be it feature Hollywood movies or a video short at the local college), would be well advised to familiarize themselves with. Think of a treatment as the Reader's Digest version of a screenplay and you'll understand perfectly.
Treatments are what producers generally ask for well before they are interested enough to sit down and read the entire screenplay. There are many formats and lengths for screenplays, but the gimmicky ones as well as the ones that are too long or too short are rarely successful.
A truly accessible treatment is just like a mini-short story which describes what you're seeing with very little dialogue, like this one that I wrote a few years ago to pitch around.
We see the opening credits of American Leisure Television Network's flagship news program ALT News, a daily three hour early evening live news and interview program. ALT News' tagline is "Celebrating 15 years as America's #1 Newscast." Anchorman Jordan Jensen welcomes his viewers and leads them through an array of rapidfire connections with correspondents all over the world and incisive interviews with major heads of state and leading celebrities. Standing in front of a display screen that zooms around the globe to show the maps of the countries relevant to the current story, we can see that Jordan has become the most highly rated newsman in the country through his professionalism, journalistic ethics, encyclopaedic knowledge and impeccable instincts as he interviews President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair on split screen, putting both of them on the spot. Part of Jordan's success with audiences is that he is never privy to what newsmakers he will be speaking to, thus can never prepare pat questions. His charm and appeal is that he can adlib better questions than other journalists can research for days.
After the newscast, Jordan goes out to the parking structure of the New York City studio, gets into his luxury sports coupe and drives off towards his Long Island home. Parking in the six car garage, he exits the car to a huge hug and kiss from his lovely wife Charlene, who leads him into the palatial home to a candlelit dinner.
The next morning, Jordan is apologizing to Charlene that he has to leave much earlier than usual as he is off to SUNY New Paltz to do a live spot for a major physics experiment. Charlene pouts and tells him that he has to make it up to her that night. Jordan smiles, kisses her tenderly and goes out to the car.
Jordan is interviewing Dr. Stanislav K. Broucek in front of the Physics building on the New Paltz campus. Jordan's producer is standing next to his assistant and the soundman whispering angle instructions into the ear of cameraman Chuck Wright. Dr. Broucek is explaining to Jordan that today's physics experiment is of monumental importance as it will be the first time that "superstring harmonics will be oscillated in ten dimensions to yield gigajoules via breaching the horizon to parallel bubbles." Jordan asks him to clarify in layman's terms and Dr. Broucek explains that the physicists will attempt to artificially guide subatomic matter at the speed of light back and forth across the passageways to alternate universes in order to generate enormous amounts of electrical energy. If this experiment is a success, a new, cheap, non-polluting energy source could be developed to supply the entire electrical requirements of the continent.
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