Monday, September 24, 2012

What are you all so worried about – it’s easy!

I really should stop reading most things on the internet about screenwriting. A lot of it is not so much fiction as science fiction. Sure, there are useful resources online but [expletive deleted] me you have to trawl through some [censored]ing crap.

Take for example this gem I found on a film networking page:

“Writing a treatment is very-very-very easy!”


Not your garden variety ‘very easy’ where you knock out a “3-5 pager” before a cup of tea and a scone.

Not the slightly rarer ‘very, very easy’ where you’re doodling in a notebook and, hey presto, you’ve accidentally written a treatment (framed by a lovely floral doodle).

No, this is the ‘very, very, very easy’ phenomenon where you fall out of bed and, oh my god, there’s a treatment just sitting there on the floor… or you open the fridge door and look, a treatment at the back next to the six pack of tinnies!

Intrigued beyond words at this exciting new discovery I eagerly read on. A quick scan of the ensuing pitch told me how to set a treatment out on the page – double spacing you say? - and what went where like an Ikea instruction manual. So if it’s a three page treatment (I’d call that a synopsis but hey, whatever) the first page is the first act, the second the second and there’s a prize if you can correctly guess what the third page is. Genius!

Okay. Let’s do this then!!!

*Fingers poised above the keyboard*


I suppose I might need a few other things.

Like a great, original idea for a film. A premise? A theme maybe? Oh, I know, some compelling characters. Yep, need those. Plot? Something to say? Rising action and stakes? Wants, needs, flaws. Character arcs.  A kick-arse climax and satisfying conclusion.


Not seeing any of this in my very-very-very easy treatment writing discourse. If I start typing in double spaced Courier 12 font it will no doubt come to me…

It’s like telling me anyone can make a car. All you need is an engine, four wheels, a steering wheel… maybe some doors… oh, oh, oh, those drink holder thingies… and a sunroof… and what’s that gadget that does the thing with the thing? One of those!

Someone commented on the original post in response to my scepticism (who’d have thought?) that “physically” it’s easy to write a treatment. I guess so – you depress the keys in a downwards motion using your fingertips and words magically appear on a white space commonly known as a screen.

Come on!!! Writing a treatment is very, very, very easy? [Expletive deleted][Censored][Under review at the Classification Review Board] you!

Coming up with an original, compelling, entertaining idea for a feature film is HARD! There are courses now being run over east about how to write a proper LOGLINE – one sentence! Because, going by most funding body screeds of projects in development, we pretty much suck at it.

But what troubles me most is this – the dismissive nature of what it is screenwriters do.  Of course it’s easy! Anyone can do it! They’re only words! Knock out one of those out no probs! Which leads us here.

There are several types of writing that not all writers are good at – scripted scenes are different to a one page synopsis which is different to writing a full blown treatment. Don’t only give me a mechanical, dry recitation of the ‘geometry’ – inspire people to come up with good ideas; to recognise and discard bad ones; to work at their craft; to show respect for that craft. Celebrate good writing. Don’t trivialise it. And don’t ever, ever disrespect what it is screenwriters struggle to do – bring worlds and characters to life using only words, imagination, and bloody-minded commitment. None of that is easy. Not even for the most celebrated of writers.

Otherwise, it’s very-very-very easy for me to dismiss you as just another [censored].

"I love writing but hate starting. The page is awfully white and it says, “You may have fooled some of the people some of the time but those days are over, giftless. I’m not your agent and I’m not your mommy. I’m a white piece of paper, you wanna dance with me?” And I really, really don’t." 

- Aaron Sorkin

No comments:

Post a Comment