ASSIGNMENT: Film Treatment

Instructions: A treatment is a short synopsis used to pitch an idea for a film. Your treatment should be around 750 words and should 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.

Your proposed film can play very loosely with the horror/zombie genres. 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 a fiction or non-fiction film in any genre: documentary, mockumentary, horror, comedy, satire, experimental film, music video, stop-motion animation, etc. Depending on the kind of film you propose, you may need to adapt some of these instructions. Everything I say here is a guideline only, meant to be tweaked as needed.

When we meet as a group, we will decide together the shape of what we're going to be making this term. We might make a single film as a very large group or we might make an anthology of shorter films that we unleash in a coordinated way upon the internet. We might end up with several 5 - 10 minute films, interspersed by mock commercials and previews for products and films that don't exist. In other words, don't worry about what the final product will look like or whether your proposed film will even get made. Make your treatment a work of art in its own right. And zombies don't play it safe or follow rules, so you shouldn't either.

Submitting Your Work: Use Google Docs ( to compose your treatment on your own or in a group of 2-3. Submit your work by sharing your document with me ( You can share your document with me as you're 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 before our first class session on April 26. If your treatment takes some bizarre form that can't be contained in a Google Doc (for whatever reason), send it by e-mail, share a link, hook it to a carrier pigeon, etc. :)

1. 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:

2. Market Research. This section should discuss how your film would fit into the horror/zombie film canon. You don't have to worry about whether your film would be "profitable," but consider your influences and the success (at all levels) of those influences. The goal of this section is to convince us that your film would draw viewers, hasn’t been made before, and is the exact right film to make
right now.

3. 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 and a discussion of the visual style of your film. Remember, your film doesn't even need to have plot or characters. If you're doing an experimental film, for example, use this section to outline what the film is up to and how it will look and sound.

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

5.  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.