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We are aiming for 400 words at the most!
“Inspiration: Get an idea!
I was having a beer with my friend Tim a few weeks back and we were talking about work and money in general when he asked me a question: “What kind of music video would you make if you had a million-dollar budget?” Being a little drunk and thinking about the freezing walk home on a wintry night in Berlin, I said. “Ferraris on Ice! You know, like synchronized swimming but with with Ferraris on an ice rink!”
Although it maybe wasn’t the most realistic idea I jotted it down anyway. You never know when inspiration will hit. Keep a notebook or a tape recorder with you. Who knows if one of these days my dream will come true and someone will give me a million dollars to put expensive foreign cars in harm’s way to the tune of a song … in the meantime I might as well write the treatment, “Ferraris on Ice.”
Section 1: Title Page
Start with a title page. Include the name of the band and the song. I also usually try to find a nice image of the band or artist if it fits with the mood of the video. You can also put your production company logo in along with the record label.
Section 2: Elevator Pitch
Explain your vision in a paragraph or two. (An “elevator pitch” is a quick description you could give to, say, someone who wants to give you a million dollars whom you meet in an elevator, giving you only a fraction of a minute to pitch them.) Use visually descriptive words, be specific, and paint a picture of what the video will look and feel like. Keep this brief, get them excited and leave them wanting more.
Section 3: Script
Some music videos get to be very literal when it comes to the lyrics of the song; some are completely abstract. However you decide to do it, this is the place in the treatment to go into detail. I like to break down the video into scenes and describe each separate scene in a paragraph or two and will usually add some photos as well.
Section 4: Moods / Style
Describe the feeling and look of the video. What format will it be shot on? Are you going for a stylized look? What kind of editing? Long cinematic shots or quick jump cuts? Are you doing any animated or CGI sequences? Cite references for the style; this can be anything such as films, paintings, books, celebrities, or photographs. Whatever best communicates how your video will look. Include 2 to 3 pages of just images.
Summary Section: Sum it up
Summarize your video in a few sentences reminding your client why it’s a great idea. Keep it short and simple.
Writing a treatment is fun. If you have any aspirations to do music videos, it is something you should do regularly. Opportunity can knock at any moment so you shouldn’t wait until someone asks you to pitch to have a treatment ready. Be proactive. If you hear a new song and have a great idea for a video, email the band or the band’s management and send them a treatment. You never know, they might just have you direct their next video.
I use treatments for pretty much all of my projects whether it’s a documentary, commercial or music video. It’s a simple, effective way to organize and communicate your ideas, and is an essential skill to have in the film business.”