Where do Treatment Writers Learn About Making TV Commercials?

Where do Treatment Writers Learn About Making TV Commercials?

I wasn’t born a treatment writer, the same way Michael Bay was probably not born in a hospital delivery room, surrounded by explosions and helicopters. Maybe he went to explosion school. I don’t know*

While it’s likely that I was born in a delivery room, sans explosions and helicopters, I was not born a treatment writer. I had to learn how to write treatments. Fortunately, I went to college where I was taught how to write just well enough to ace a test, pass an exam, or even better…get a job.

Thanks for that, college.

In order to learn to write treatments for directors, I did what made the most sense to me: I got my hands on every treatment I could and studied them. So, when I got to a technical term or phrase I wasn’t familiar with in a treatment, I looked it up – studied it so I’d understand exactly what it meant.

Now, when a director wants to shoot in 60FPS and doesn’t say much more about it, I know why. Or, when a director describes why they want to focus on handheld camera work, I can see it in my head and write the best description in the treatment for the client and agency to see.

Aside from reading a lot of treatments, I also do a little self-directed studying on my own. I watch a lot of CineFix on YouTube (videos are hit-or-miss on cinematography info, but when they’re good, they’re great), and even watch some of the more popular vlogs on YouTube that tackle some cinematography topics either directly or indirectly.

Does all this make me an expert at directing?

Heck no. Not even close.

That’s the director’s job. They know this stuff way better than I ever could. But I’m pretty sure my new-found knowledge makes it easier for a director if I can just let the director speak and not interrupt them with questions like:

What does FPS mean?”
Aren’t all cameras handheld?”
Can you spell Anne Amorfik?”

Having even a rudimentary understanding of as many concepts as possible means a director can give me a big brain dump and not worry about whether or not I “get it.” I’ll only ask a director to clarify something if it’s absolutely necessary.

And that saves everyone time when it comes to working with a treatment writer. If there’s one thing I learned in college, it’s that time is money….which is probably why I spent as little time there as possible.

*Just kidding. Michael Bay went to a real school. Two, apparently.

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