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who makes the treatment and script?

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clyde villegas
who makes the treatment and script?
on Feb 20, 2013 at 9:45:00 pm

In general, who creates the treatment, script, and/or storyboard: the advertising agency or the video production company? Thanks a lot!

ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus


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Nick Griffin
Re: who makes the treatment and script?
on Feb 20, 2013 at 10:59:03 pm

Good agencies create first a concept which drives a script which is clarified by a treatment which can be created by either the agency or the production company. Ideally the two working together.

Lazy agencies make the creation of the above elements the responsibility of the production company as a condition of getting the job. (But all of this is just my observation from being around both types of agencies over the years.)


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clyde villegas
Re: who makes the treatment and script?
on Feb 21, 2013 at 12:32:43 am

Thank you very much, Nick! I have this notion that the agency should be the one preparing the "blueprints" (script) and the production company is the "builder" or the one executing it through production and post-prod. In an ideal world who's main responsibility it is? What is actually done in the real world, or at least in the U.S.? God bless!

ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus


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Bill Davis
Re: who makes the treatment and script?
on Feb 21, 2013 at 4:48:22 am

[clyde villegas] "What is actually done in the real world, or at least in the U.S.?"

There's not a single answer to this.

The Agency typically has a variety of jobs. (often VERY dependent on their operational size and scope) that can include a ton of elements under the general heading of "research" that should help the client identify the demographics and psycographics of their primary advertising target.

This material "should" help refine everything that happens down stream.

In a perfect world, the team doing this prep work makes it available to Agency Management and their Account people and who work closely with the client to define the advertising's target audience.

This is often required before any ad creation effort gets a green light.

Then the documents you're talking about come into play. In the real world, the Ad Agency will be expected to have skilled talent in areas such as concept creation and writing, but it's just as possible that the agency will have talent in house more skilled for print or web - but who do NOT maintain talent in house who are skilled at the less regular tasks of radio or video production.

If an agency doesn't maintain in-house talent, they'll look outside for competent help. If that happens, it's reasonable that the outside vendor might come in as a video or audio production specialist, and if so, they'd be closely involved in the entire creative effort.

All of this depends on the size, scope and expertise of the organizations involved.

Big agencies are likely to have expertise in house to do most of the creative.

Smaller ones often need to hire producers with specific expertise.

It's all about relationships and building a team that gives the project the best chance of success.

As I often mention (as a former ad agency owner) the BIGGEST risk is usually the money the client will budget for the media buy - which is often many times the cost to create the actual advertising. Because that's the biggest expense involved - whoever's paying THOSE bills typically wants to to everything possible to ensure success before signing off on things. So testing and refining concepts is the hallmark of a serious coordinated media effort - NOT just letting people without specific experience knock out scripts and shoot and edit their own ads.

Tho that certainly does happen!

Hope that helps explain some of the process.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Mark Suszko
Re: who makes the treatment and script?
on Feb 21, 2013 at 2:28:57 pm

The Treatment process comes before the script is written. A treatment is a blueprint for writing the script, and its the document used by the clients to define what they are looking to achieve, as well as a planning tool that will show you what kind of sets, locations, costumes, effects, actors, etc. would be needed. So it helps the producer with budgeting and making estimates.

When we get into the mom-and-pop level of advertising, too often they go with a "ready-fire-aim" strategy of writing scripts without first doing a treatment step. They usually do that when they think they know the subject and the needs so intimately that the creative approach and execution are self-evident.

Usually, they are wrong.

The writer hired to do the script would typically start by researching and then writing a Treatment, before the script is done. If someone in the agency already wrote the treatment and it has been approved, then they might hire a writer to write a script based off of that treatment.


This is where I also plug my friend John Morley"s book: "Scriptwriting for High-Impact Videos". He's got a very good section on the Creative Treatment Process, as well as every other step to go thru in planning and executing a good corporate video or even an ad.


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Nick Griffin
Re: who makes the treatment and script?
on Feb 21, 2013 at 6:14:39 pm

[Mark Suszko] "The Treatment process comes before the script is written. A treatment is a blueprint for writing the script, and its the document used by the clients to define what they are looking to achieve, as well as a planning tool that will show you what kind of sets, locations, costumes, effects, actors, etc. would be needed."

I think this is an issue of semantics. In my sphere the "treatment" is a visual description of what the final product will look like and it is based on the script. What Mark is describing as a "treatment" is part of the "creative brief," which, in an ideal world, is what dictates what the steps which follow will convey.

I wrote about this process in the first article I did for the COW 11 years ago, How a TV Spot Comes Into Being. That was written in response to a poster who had "a great idea" for a commercial and wanted to know how to sell this idea to an advertiser.


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Mark Suszko
Re: who makes the treatment and script?
on Feb 21, 2013 at 7:17:15 pm

I tend to weld the Creative Brief and the Treatment together as one process, because the Brief and its research inform the Treatment; the key facts in the Brief are referenced in the Treatment.

The real utility of going thru this process is that everybody can have their input at a stage where changes don't cost any money yet. The CEO doesn't like a particular location for some reason? Erase it, replace it.
Get it approved. But wait until that project is shot and edited to then get the change note from the CEO, and your budget is blown.


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Nick Griffin
Re: who makes the treatment and script?
on Feb 21, 2013 at 6:26:29 pm

[Bill Davis] "the BIGGEST risk is usually the money the client will budget for the media buy - which is often many times the cost to create the actual advertising"

I'm not sure to what degree anyone pays attention to this anymore, but there used to be a guideline to the effect that 1/5th (20%) of the TV budget was for production and 4/5ths (80%) for the media spend. Of course there are NUMEROUS violators of this principle ranging from the one-shot Superbowl advertisers to the local market people who will run their creative into the ground to the extent that they're spending 2% on production and 98% on running the same spot again and again and again.


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Tom Sefton
Re: who makes the treatment and script?
on Feb 21, 2013 at 4:32:16 pm

It depends entirely on their relationship with the client, and your relationship with the agency. Some clients expect the agency they employ to be the only creative force that they listen to, and a one stop shop for every piece of media that is needed. If you find this is the case, its best to accept that the agency will control the creative decisions behind the project. We've been used as a facilities house for shooting and editing whilst an agency staff member sits with us for 3 days of editing and reviews all of the post production; we've also been used to polish the concept, write scripts and prepare brief storyboards and then deliver a finished cut.


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