A treatment is the overview and visual schematic for all filmed content, intended to lift a project from the dry technical format of a script in order to convey a creator’s overall approach through visuals and technical specs.
You might be a director finding your way into a script. Or a writer tackling a high-concept project who wants feedback before you proceed. Or a commercials director giving your interpretation of boards you’ve been invited to pitch. A great treatment will help you focus your thoughts, further the project with stakeholders, or set you well above the competition with the very best chance of booking a spot.
A pitch deck is a treatment evolved into a selling tool. It not only maps out the creative plan, but presents the project as a commercially viable product to buyers.
The production plan of a pitch deck tends to be more detailed than a treatments. For instance, a good treatment tends to make suggestions and give options with the express purpose of eliciting feedback from potential stakeholders. A pitch deck has a clearer path to production.
The story book is a lean, keen, selling machine, the third and final stage of a treatment’s journey. It is a key promotional tool, a leave behind electronic or print brochure to assist the films reps at festivals, markets and meetings with buyers.
The film has been shot, or is close to wrapping. Aspirational images and moodboards are replaced by actual stills and key art. Any final changes to cast, key crew and affiliated companies have been made.
The series bible is the traditional tool that accompanies the pilot of a TV series script. It is far more detailed than a normal treatment, and normally has no images. But it is related to a treatment in that it expresses the intensions and vision of the show’s writer-creator for character arcs, future episodes and the prospects for the series over as many seasons as possible.
A series bible created by James Killough is used as a teaching tool at Columbia University in the Business of Television course; it’s considered to be the ideal content and format.