What Does a Treatment Writer do With the Conference Call Recording?


What Does a Treatment Writer do With the Conference Call Recording?

In case you didn’t know, a recording of the conference call where the director(s) and agency go over the boards/brief and have some discussion about goals, mandatories, and other things that the director(s) should know prior to generating a treatment, is gold for treatment writers.

It’s so valuable, in fact, that the first thing I do is RE-email it to myself and another top-secret treatment writer email address I have to ensure that I have a copy of it no matter what. That’s the first thing I do with it.

Second, I listen to it. I hope that’s not a shocking bit of info. I’ve got a chair in my office and it’s perfect for plugging in some ear buds and having a listen to the conference call. I use earbuds so that I can hone in on ALL of the conversation. Not just what’s going on in the foreground, but I also tune into what’s going on in the background as well.

Is someone from the agency trying to chime in while others are speaking? What are they trying to say? Are they disagreeing with their agency compadres? Why? Is what they’re saying important to the spot, the treatment, etc?

I’ll often stop the recording, flip back, and re-listen to parts where multiple people are speaking. If I can manage to listen between the lines, I almost always get something of value from it that I can use. Often, directors will be shocked that I actually heard what I heard – and thankful that I heard it at all.

Third, I make notes. I typically split my notes into two sections:

1. What the directors say, and…
2. What the agency says.

I do this so that I know who said what when I refer back to my notes. I try to use the same language and tone that was used during the conference call so that it sounds familiar to everybody. Maybe it’s subliminal nonsense, but I figure that people like to hear things described similarly to the way they would describe them.

So when a director describes something as “filmic,” I write that exact word down. Or when an agency person decides that they spontaneously what to film something from above using a “drone,” I write that down, too. Sometimes, I’ll end up using the exact word, but maybe not depending on how things go between me and the director(s) after the call.

When I’m done with my notes, they often look like a script, which should come as no surprise, but it really does make things easier when I can see who said what and how other parties responded.

Fourth, I laugh a little. There’s no editing (well, I suppose there could be if it was really needed) the conference call. So when I get ten consecutive minutes of eight people talking at the same time, all I can do is sip my coffee, chuckle and wait it out.

While I do also have to wait out some of the personal chit-chat at the start of the call, it actually does have some value, too. Some things I’ve learned from conference call chit chat:

– what football (soccer) teams a director is fanatical about
– that a director lives about an hour away from me and used to live even closer
– that some directors aren’t very talkative until it comes to the details of the TV commercial
– some directors are very modest and don’t like to talk about previous work unless it’s relevant to the current project.

Fifth, and possibly most importantly, I act is if I may never hear from the director again. Directors are extremely busy people, so it’s not uncommon for it to appear as though they’ve “gone dark” on me while they direct a current project somewhere else on the planet. In the meantime, I start work on a rough outline so, when a director does come up for air, I’m at least ready with something for them to review or, at the very least, start from for the treatment.

I can’t imagine a writer not doing this to save a director’s precious time. Maybe the rough outline is a complete “miss,” but every treatment starts and ends with words on a page. So, the least I can do is have something…anything…for the director to look at so they don’t think their absence has give me cause to drop the ball.

As you can see, the conference call is far more than just a call. It’s insight. It’s time saved from having to RE-explain everything to me. And I wring every last bit of detail from it that I can.

So please record it. And send it. Thanks!



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