Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Treatment: day one

I've finally finished the yearbook and I have another few days before I have to finish my final project for my uber boring University of Phoenix class, so today I finally sat down to work on my treatment for THE JOB that I have been hired to do. I haven't gotten a lot of details yet from the producers, but I got enough out of the meeting to get started on a treatment. I have to go back to work in May so I'm not waiting around for stuff.

Normally when I go to work on a spec I think about it for a few weeks, then write up a sort of stream-of-consciousness outline, then make index cards that I proceed to completely ignore as I immerse myself in the script. That has usually worked very well for me in the past. I've tried to write detailed outlines before but I always end up abandoning them as my characters talk to me.

Yeah I can't do that this time. What I put in the treatment needs to be not only organized and easy to follow, it has to be pretty close to what the first draft will look like. I was given an idea and told to run with, so now that I've run with it I have to tell my employers what I've come up with. I love what I've come up with, but it's a really vague idea in my head.

So today I sat with the laptop in my lap and the specially designed playlist going on my ITunes and opened up my copy of Word and typed in the title of the project and then I sat there.

And sat there.

And then I realized I don't even have a name for my lead. I was told to think of a particular actor they had in mind for this - let's just go with Michael Keaton because he deserves more attention than he's been getting these days. This whole time I've been thinking of this guy as Michael Keaton so as soon as I sat down to my blank page the only name I could think of was Michael Keaton. Thinking of a new name took like ten minutes.

Thinking of names is tough because this is a very manly man in a very manly situation, but his name can't be too over the top. But then I realized that I've got this whole super cool literary reference going on in the story that the producer is going to flip for, so I decided to carry it over by naming my character after a character in the classic story I'm nodding at. Not the protagonist of this classical story mind you, because you never want a reference to be too obvious. Does it annoy anyone else that Hiro on Heroes is named Hiro? Come on.

Anyway, so name selected.

After that crisis I gave him a backstory - not too detailed because I'll do that before I write the actual script, but enough to give him an explanation of why he's in the mess and why he is the way he is. But then I realized that my PG-13 backstory was kind of R rated. This PG-13 shit is going to be tough. I left it as it was because we don't know yet how much that's going to be onscreen, and if I have to constantly worry about ratings I'll never get this thing done. So I'm going to write it the natural way, then go back and edit, then let the producers direct my changes if I've gone too far off the rails.

Thinking about this took a few more minutes. Then I had to add another song to my special playlist. Then I checked to see if anybody had written anything cool on Done Deal. Not really.

I wrote up a bit about the setting of my story. I realized I'm not sure what the body of water is around Alaska so I just said "Off the coast of Alaska" rather than look it up. Then I looked up cars I'm interested in buying.

I summed up some of the other major characters who show up in the beginning. They're easy because I like them.

At this point I have five paragraphs written in an hour and a half. Now I think I'll call it a day and put tonight's dinner in the slow cooker.

Hey look, I'm a writer!


  1. ugh, i HATE treatments. I can write a 30 minute script, but i can't write a treatment. lol, Michael Keaton? I haven't seen him in anything for so long.

    good luck with your writing gig!!

  2. So, I've been slacking lately and just read about the developments you've had lately.

    Holy shit, you're awesome! Congrats!

    You're going to kill it! Best of luck.

  3. Anonymous7:06 PM

    Re: Hiro on Heroes. Neal Stephenson named the main character in Snow Crash "Hiro Protagonist". Now that takes nerve. Still, he pulled it off.

  4. How exciting!

    I am a big fan of Micheal Keaton. Wish he was in more.

    When I get stuck on names during my brainstorm (snowplow) sessions I default to Hero, BadGuy, Girlfriend, Sidekick, Henchman, etc. Find and replace owns.

    I hate getting stuck, especially when I'm holding back an ass load of information that needs to get on the page.

    Thanks for the update. Good luck and have fun!



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