Monstrous Bodies

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” ~ George Orwell
Project Description: Treatment
INSTRUCTIONS: A treatment is a short synopsis used to pitch an idea for a film. At the start of the semester, before you’ve broken into departments, you will work on this project in groups of 2-3. Your treatment should be around 750 words and will include a logline (a 1-2 sentence summary of your idea), market research, a description of the major scenes/characters, and a discussion of themes the film would explore. You should also include sketches or other visual aids to support your proposal and a bibliography. I will choose 3-5 of the best treatments, which you will vote on as a class to determine what film will be made.

RUBRIC: Click here for a rubric you can use in thinking about this assignment and when completing your midterm and final self-evaluations. This rubric is condensed from the Writing and Communication Program’s, the full version of which can be found here.

A NOTE ON GENRE: Your treatment can play very loosely with monster movie conventions. It should intersect with the themes of our class, but where and how it intersects with these themes is up to you. Go wild with your idea, but don’t be afraid of subtlety. You are free to pitch an idea for either a fiction or non-fiction film in any genre: documentary, mockumentary, horror, comedy, satire, etc. Depending on the kind of film you propose, you may need to adapt some of these instructions. Everything here is a guideline, meant to be tweaked as needed.

SUBMITTING YOUR WORK: Use Google Docs ( to compose your treatment in a group of 2-3. Submit your work by sharing your document with me ( You can share your document with me as you are working, so I can witness your process unfold, but you can also wait until your work is complete. Just make sure to share your document with me by the due date on the schedule.

Logline. A logline is a 1-2 sentence summary of your idea. It conveys the story and themes of your film in the most abbreviated manner possible. This section is really the most important part of your treatment. Most readers will have made up their minds about your work after reading just your logline. Here is a rather long article about crafting a very short logline:

Market Research. This section should discuss how your film would fit into the horror/monster movie canon. While you do not need to be all that concerned about the profitability of the film you produce, you should research the financial and critical success of films you deem similar to the one you’re proposing. The goal of this section is to convince us that your film would be successful, hasn’t been made before, and is the exact right film to make right now.

Description of Major Scenes/Characters. Here you’ll include brief descriptions of your characters, their motivations, and the trouble they’ll get into over the course of the film. You want to create a picture for your readers in as few words as possible. In this section you might not want to waste words on complete sentences. Instead, you could have something like: “Brenda. A 12-year-old girl with pigtails and overalls. Likes twirling her hair and eating the heads of small animals. Spends most of the film looking for squirrels to snack on.” You should also include a brief outline of the plot and/or structure of your film. Remember, the final film will be about 15 minutes, so you should keep that in mind when determining the scope of your narrative. Don’t feel pressured to make a certain kind of film by the sections of this treatment. If you have an idea for a film without characters or would like to propose a documentary, feel free to adapt the needs of this section accordingly.

Discussion of Themes. This is where you’ll want to talk about how your film engages with ideas we’ll be discussing this semester. This isn’t Mad Libs, but these are the sorts of sentences you’re looking for: “The monster is a figure about ____________, and so our film will explore _________, _________, and ________. Humans have become ___________, and our narrative will thus disrupt ____________.” I would recommend that you quote from outside sources in this section. What have critics and theorists said about monsters, bodies, etc., and how will your film engage with current thinking on these subjects?

Visual Aids. Include sketches, pictures, or other visual aids to help support your proposal. These do not need to be artistically sounds. The goal is to get your reader’s attention and put your idea into their head quickly and powerfully.

Bibliography. If you quote from outside sources, include a brief bibliography citing those sources.

OUTCOMES: One of the goals of this assignment is to help us decide what direction we will go in for our final project this semester; however, the work you do here will have both instrumental and intrinsic value. Thus, you will be working collaboratively, doing research to support a thoughtful critical engagement with the subjects of our course. And your work will have a real audience (beyond just your instructor), forcing you to think carefully about that audience and the various rhetorical components of the document you create.

RESOURCES: Read or review these sections of the e-text as you are thinking about and constructing your treatment: “Attribution and Research” in Chapter 2 (paying careful attention to sections 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 43, and whichever style guide you use for your bibliography).