From script to treatment

Sometime in the near past (I lose track of days. I know it wasn’t yesterday or the day before but beyond that escapes me) I re-wrote the treatment for ’til Death to match the script.

A bit cock about face, I know; but since the latest draft bears very little resemblance to the original treatment and the treatment is sometimes part of the sales pack, amendments were needed.

As it turns out it’s quite a useful technique. By going through the script and summarising each scene – what happens and why – you  get a better insight into your story. Instead of reading each scene and then summarising it, I just glanced at it briefly and then wrote down what I thought it was about, how it moves the story on and what the characters were doing and why.

Only after I’d written the scene in the treatment do I go back and compare it to the script. Occasionally I find information I’d intended to be in the scene was missing, or obscure, or the characters’ motivations just weren’t clear enough. Often I’d be convinced a certain line of dialogue was in the scene only to find out it wasn’t but bloody well should be.

For one scene I couldn’t remember for the life of me what it was meant to be about or why the characters were doing the things they were. Closer examination failed to reveal any hints so the whole scene got cut and no one will ever miss it.

It’s a pretty valuable exercise – comparing what you’ve written with what you think you’ve written and one I would recommend to absolutely no one; because, although it is useful and does reveal a fair amount of interesting things about your script … Christ, it’s fucking boring.

So boring in fact I can’t remember when I did it or how long it took. That mind-numbing process robbed me of a day. Take my advice, don’t do it unless you’re having problems sleeping. Or you’re absolutely positive all the paint in your house is dry and there’s nothing else to watch. I tried to liven things up by jabbing myself in the leg with a compass but even that failed to break the monotony.

Next time I’m defintely, definitely just getting the treatment right in the first place.

Categories: My Way, Things I've Learnt Recently, til Death | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “From script to treatment

  1. Darren

    Is it actually possible to get the treatment totally right in the first place? Surely (and I know nothing so this is mere conjecture) the whole process will always involve juggling the separate elements (script, treatment etc.) to achieve some cohesion?

    Or am I barking up the wrong tree again?

  2. You’re totally right. Very VERY boring.

    I had to reverse engineer a treatment for someone else’s script … because he’s asked me to help rewrite it and he didn’t have a treatment of his own. Silly person (both of us! lol) So a manageable size document was needed to work from. I nearly gnawed my way through the table out of boredom while I was typing that up.
    On the bright side, I now understand what the story was actually meant to be. 😉

    Last ditch desperate measure … don’t do it unless you really have to.

    There, both Phill and I have said it. Must be right. … probably … maybe?

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