PDA

View Full Version : Pitching just a treatment before writing the screenplay?


Christian
08-23-2009, 06:29 AM
Someone recently pitched me a treatment without a screenplay - I actually liked it. What do you think?

grant
08-23-2009, 12:08 PM
I don't think you'll be able to sell a pitch or treatment until you have some sort of track record and connections. To get those, you'll need completed scripts.

kidcharlemagne
08-23-2009, 12:26 PM
Ditto. Completed scripts well executed since great execution (even with no sale) can get you meetings, assignments and in some cases representation.

Jake Schuster
08-23-2009, 12:27 PM
I agree with Kid. Show that you have the chops (i.e. have a great sample or two), so that they know you can do the job well. Then pitch your treatment.

Why One
08-23-2009, 12:29 PM
When you query, they usually ask for the completed script.

Pitches and treatments for future projects usually come when you can get in a room with them. And that usually happens after they've read a completed script of yours that they really like.

kidcharlemagne
08-23-2009, 02:18 PM
Treatments are also a useful tool during the assignment process. I'm in the middle of writing a number of them (for a UK prod. co.) and I like to build in the treatment as part of the step process so that the producer and I are, at least roughly, on the same page before I go to the script phase.

grant
08-23-2009, 03:20 PM
More likely you would pitch to them, in person, and tell them the story. The treatment would be to prepare yourself, if you wrote one. If they liked that, and liked you, they might offer some sort of deal.

From Barton Fink: "Who said write? Jesus, [the exec] can't read. You got to tell it to him."

artisone
08-23-2009, 08:07 PM
Usually when you walk into a room with executives, you don't walk in to pitch a treatment or a screenplay, you walk in to pitch a movie. You get these meetings with either a proven track record or with a great spec that shows you know how to write. No one will pay you to write anything if they have doubts about your talents. And to achieve a great spec you have to write a lot of screenplays. You aren't doing yourself any favors by keeping those great ideas to yourself. Write those screenplays and show that you have the chops. Impress people. Make fans. After that, hopefully, the opportunity to pitch assignment or your own material will come. But you have to kill a lot of trees to get there.

DavidK
08-24-2009, 03:39 AM
Unless you have proven yourself sufficiently marketable that you can get an assignment on the basis of pitching an idea or synopsis or outline, you really have no choice but to present a completed script.

That means having it ready to deliver. Your best draft, proofread, hard copy. As soon as you pitch your script you should be in a position to deliver a printed version - nobody wants to know about the script you think you can deliver in eight or twelve weeks, all going well.

If you have eight great ideas, turn at least three of them into complete scripts, then start networking/pitching.

Goatfish
08-24-2009, 11:59 AM
... That means having it ready to deliver. Your best draft, proofread, hard copy. As soon as you pitch your script you should be in a position to deliver a printed version - nobody wants to know about the script you think you can deliver in eight or twelve weeks, all going well.

Is a printed version still important in this day and age?

kidcharlemagne
08-24-2009, 02:09 PM
So it sounds like you do use treatments when approaching producers

No, not to approach, a face to face pitch yes but not a treatment. I like to use treatments/scriptments/outlines on a paid assignment because I don't want to put all the work in a first draft and then find out that the producer wanted to go in a different direction. I use the treatment as a 'checks and balance' as part of the process.

The current assignments I'm working on came out of a meeting with a UK producer at Cannes, then a follow up up by sending him my romantic comedy and then getting an offer to rewrite a biographical/historical drama. Go figure? This led to other paid gigs from the same producer. In any case, to cut a long story short, you need a good sample script.

To approach a producer you need a good phone pitch, or face to face pitch, or query letter/log line in order that they request the script.

kidcharlemagne
08-24-2009, 02:12 PM
Is a printed version still important in this day and age?

No. In my experience: only in very few instances. .pdf is king.

DavidK
08-26-2009, 03:08 AM
Is a printed version still important in this day and age?

Yes. PDFs are great, but people still like being able to read a script without having to fire up a laptop and there are still plenty of situations where a hard copy is more convenient. It's usually specified when the request is made, but as a guideline it's still important to have a bound copy available for immediate delivery.

When Mac's new tablet comes out soon, it will be immediately become cooler to read scripts in soft copy, but maybe no more practical.

Takezo
09-09-2009, 07:11 PM
Unless your last name is Lucas, Spielberg or someone on this level--you're not going to sell a pitch.

Even with a well flushed out treatment... it's still a pitch.
Maybe, just maybe you will sell the story.
Maybe, just maybe they/them will hire you to write the screenplay.
But mostly today... nope!

A few years ago--I and my writing partner went hand-in-hand with a Producer who had just won the Oscar for best picture. We had a dynamite treatment. We went to the production heads of a Westside big ticket studio with him holding our hands during the pitch. We had this big, big name saying, "I want to make this F-ing picture!" --and nada!

Noooo, they wanted to see the screenplay.
They/them want to see the screenplay "executed" these days.
They do not want to risk anymore.
And we were just there a few months before with another completed screenplay they were actively considering.
Go figure!

Back in the day you could get them jumping up and down and wetting their pants--and get them to hire you to do a 1st draft.
But today?!!
Not likely. Not unless you're a big-ticket writer with some track record or JJ Abrams.

So just go out and write it, and save yourself a lot of heartache.
Also time.

Now if you are in a meeting with another screenplay, and they/them ask you what else you have... well heck yeah, short pitch them the new treatment. It can't hurt. But even if they do wet their pants, you will probably still hear... "Wow, I can't wait to see it!"

These are the times where an ax handle comes in handy!

T

artisone
09-09-2009, 09:15 PM
If you want to sell a pitch, try television.

mrjonesprods
09-09-2009, 09:32 PM
Unless your last name is Lucas, Spielberg or someone on this level--you're not going to sell a pitch.

Not true.

A few years ago--I and my writing partner went hand-in-hand with a Producer who had just won the Oscar for best picture. We had a dynamite treatment. We went to the production heads of a Westside big ticket studio with him holding our hands during the pitch. We had this big, big name saying, "I want to make this F-ing picture!" --and nada!

Noooo, they wanted to see the screenplay.


T

All it meant was that either your pitch (or concept) wasn't good enough or your writing sample didn't command faith you could deliver what you were pitching.

Takezo
09-10-2009, 08:27 PM
All it meant was that either your pitch (or concept) wasn't good enough or your writing sample didn't command faith you could deliver what you were pitching.

Yeah, sorry--but it is true.
And there was no problem with the material.
None at all my friend.
It all came down to lack of will to risk on the part of the studio.
If I made this pitch in the 80's the picture would be on Turner Classics now.
It was different back then.
Now budgets are real tight, and everyone is insecure and unsure.
No one is willing to roll dice anymore.

And no, my statement above is not cast in stone.
But for the most part--it is true.
It's rare that someone who hasn't made a big sale before, or without a major track-record sells pitch on yacking alone.
I've been optioned, been paid to doctoring and rewrites, etc. --but I will admit I am not JJ Abrams.

And someone above made a coment about pitching to TV.
Yeah--here you can still sell a pitch.
But you also have to have some development materials to slap them in the head with at the same time.

T

mrjonesprods
09-10-2009, 08:51 PM
And no, my statement above is not cast in stone.

T

You sure made it sound like it was in your previous post.

Unless your last name is Lucas, Spielberg or someone on this level--you're not going to sell a pitch.


In the same post as, "my statement is not cast in stone..."

Now budgets are real tight, and everyone is insecure and unsure.
No one is willing to roll dice anymore.

Studios don't buy pitches very often. They also don't buy specs very often either. If you have a great sample and an awesome concept - it's not impossible to sell a pitch.

wcmartell
09-10-2009, 10:31 PM
When you pitch something and they want to read it, they want to read a complete screenplay. Not a treatment.

You go to a car lot and want to buy a car and they tell you it doesn't exist, they'll have to build it, but they can give you a *picture* of the car... how do you drive the picture? Would you buy the picture? No, you want a *car*. You want to be able to kick the tires.

Sure, once you've sold something and everyone loves your writing you'll be able to pitch a story to someone and they'll pay you to write it... but to get there you'll have to write a bunch of scripts.

(by the way, a detailed treatment is not going to be a couple of pages. On my step deals they've been around 15 pages, and some have been much longer. Here's one that's 22 pages: http://www.scriptsecrets.net/screenplays/Festival.pdf and here's one that's 13 pages (for Jamie Lee Curtis): http://www.scriptsecrets.net/screenplays/Third-law.pdf I have one that's 35 pages somewhere - that's what the producer asked for.)

You know, if you're trying to become a screenwriter, yet avoid writing scripts, you may want to rethink this whole thing.

- Bill

DavidK
09-11-2009, 03:46 PM
You know, if you're trying to become a screenwriter, yet avoid writing scripts, you may want to rethink this whole thing.

Should be among the DDP top ten quotes of the year.