People across the film industry have a variety of opinions on what a treatment actually is. Some people say a treatment should be a one page written pitch, other say a treatment should be a two to five page ‘document’ telling the entire story, while focusing on its highlights. Others say a treatment should be a 60 page long scene by scene break down. I’m not an expert in this so which definition is correct I don’t know, but I do know that all three opinions share one simimlarity. They all revolve around the basis of Tzvetan Todorov’s narrative theory. Todorov suggested that all narratives are structured in five stages, or sometimes three. But Todorov’s theory suggests these five stages:
- the state of equilibrium
- a disruption of the equilibrium
- recognition of the disruption
- attempt to fix the disruption
- second state of equilibrium
Although every treatment has these five stages they are mostly broken down into three acts. Act one is typically called the set up, this is where the situation, characters and conflict is introduced. Act two is know as the conflict, where the conflict rises until is reaches its tipping point. The last act, Act three, is called the resolution. This is where the conflict is then resolved. The final act would include the last two stages of Todorov’s narrative theory.
To complete a treatment you would also need to have characters, as it is only a treatment you would only include the major characters such as the protagonist, antagonist etc. To easily write a treatment you would use Vladimir Propp’s character theory. Propp’s character theory suggests that in every narrative you will find most, if not all, of these eight character types, the villain; false villain; donor; hero; heroine; father figure; helper and mentor. The character types in our film are as follows:
- The villain – the British government
- False Villain – the infected ‘zombies’
- The donor – the infected ‘zombies’
- The hero – uninfected human who helps the infected
- The heroine – female infected ‘zombie’ who aids the hero
- Father figure – older ‘zombie’ who used to work in the government before being infected
- The helper – entire infected population
- The mentor – same character for the father figure, advises the hero on his ‘quest’
In the three acts of our film the setting will differ. There will be a mix of outside and inside locations. All of the locations we will use would all be inside one area, like Birmingham for example. This is so the storyline of the film can develop in one particular area. As we will have a mix of inside and outside locations there would be no need to have a dramatic change of the setting so doing so would be pointless, and a lot more difficult to do. Furthermore any scene we have outside would be shot at night or at least when the sun is just rising/setting so you wouldn’t be able to see much of the scenery even if we did shoot outside of the city.
The film starts off with a shot of car driving off and then the main character entering his house. The house we’ll use will be a typical suburban house. This makes the character more realistic and easier to relate to, in turn the audience is likely to draw more similarities between themselves and the character, even where there are non. The audience is more likely to be emotionally attached to the character and more likely to want to watch the film, and any subsequent sequels/prequels involving this character. Furthermore its a lot easier to film than a multi-million pound mansion.
Another setting in the first act is a basement, the basement would be in an unknown location to the character as well as the audience. This automatically makes a creepy atmosphere as the room would be pitch black, so the audience doesn’t know where they are, and what could be hiding in the darkness. With the character being in the middle of a dark room it also creates a feeling of isolation, which would make anything scarier. The benefit of using a basement is that although basements are not very common in houses across the UK it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary to occasionally have a house with a basement. This again would make the film seem realistic and easier to relate.
By this point people who have been infected have been enclosed in their own cities by the government. The city would be totally run down and the government have let it go to waste, like the people they keep in it. The city would be completely disconnected from the outside world and this setting would be a crucial point in the plot. It shows the audience the difference between how the infected and uninfected live. It is crucial to show how drastic the differences are so the audience sympathise with the zombies while similarly feeling hatred towards how the government are treating them. This is similar to the setting of the Netflix original TV show Between. This TV shows follows citizens of a rural town in the US after the town has been infected with a mysterious disease by the US government. In turn the government ‘quarantines’ the town and bans anyone from entering or leaving.
In season 6 of the walking dead the setting is in a rural town called Alexandria, the town has a wall built around it to keep unwanted visitors, and ‘walkers’ out of the town. This would be similar to where our zombies would be forced to live. The only difference is that there would be a wall there to keep the zombies in, and not out. Furthermore in The Walking Dead the town is near perfect, exactly how you would expect to see a town in real life, minus the wall. In our film the town/city the zombies would be living in would be the complete opposite, it would be in similar in conditions to buildings in third world countries, or like the favelas in Brazil.
This act will be set in the same city/area that the first act was set in. During this act we will use some of the same locations so the audience recognises that its the same setting as the first act. We can do this by using the protagonists house and we could also use landmarks if we feature them in both acts. A film that does this is 28 weeks later. The film is set in the centre of London and occasionally shows us shots of London’s landmarks to remind the audience where the film is set. Landmarks such as Big Ben, Canary Wharf, the London Underground and Wembley stadium. As our film involves politics and capitalism having London as the setting would be more fitting as London is the capital and is where the British government is based. Doing this would even have the setting following the three act structure, with the first act in London, the second act set somewhere else and then finally the third act returning to where the film began.
2015 to present – Between (Michael McGowan)
2010 to present – The Walking Dead (Mark Darabont)
2007 – 28 Weeks Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)
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http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1520211/ – accessed 16/04/16
http://filmlondon.org.uk/news/2007/may/the_rage_returns_to_london – accessed 16/04/16
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0463854/?ref_=nv_sr_2 – accessed 16/04/16
http://www.slideshare.net/jordan_house/vladimir-propp-14561275 – accessed 16/04/16