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Old October 29th, 2002, 11:04 AM   #1
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What to include in a Proposal?

Hi guys,
It has been quite sometime since I last post here. I must say that this forum has helped me a lot since the day I start posting.

Ok here's some questions. I am actually approaching an established film company in a neighbouring country, and they've asked me to submit a treatment/script and a proposal.

I got a number of questions to ask as I am quite new in this kinda industry.

1) Is it risky to send my ideas to such company? What's the possiblity of them using my ideas without letting me know?
They are an establish company though.

2) What is a treatment? Is it the same as a synopsis? Any website which I can refer to for more information?

3) What should I include in the proposal? I have not done a proper proposal b4 and would like some guidance.

Thanks for helping me out.
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Old November 2nd, 2002, 11:29 AM   #2
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erm anybody?

I surfed the net to find some example of treatment. But couldnt really find an example of it. Found some definition though but still I am not so sure what is the format like, if there's one.

Anyone could help me out with some of my questions?
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Old November 2nd, 2002, 02:23 PM   #3
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Michael I'm very new to writing so can't offer too much help but I am reading a book at the moment called

The Screenwriters Bible
by David Trottier.
ISBN:1-879505-44-4

It's a good book and takes you through not only screenwriting, but formatting and selling a script. It covers treatments, and spec scripts and lots of other things. I'm finding it a really good read so far.

Also, what I have heard of people do, here in New Zealand anyway, is to write the treatment, or synopsis, and mail it registered post to yourself. When you receive it DO NOT open it. You will have an audited record of date you sent it etc that you could use in court if it got that far. Basic protection, but better than nothing.
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Old November 3rd, 2002, 11:55 AM   #4
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Thanks.

Where can I get that book? Amazon.com?

There's lack of these type of books in my country.

I've heard of using the registered mail as some sort of protection,
I am wondering, how bout using email ?

It does contains the date on each mail. So is it possible to use email as well?
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Old November 3rd, 2002, 01:36 PM   #5
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Hi Michael,

I doubt email would be ok because email can be tampered with too easily. Another possibility is to use a writers guild if there is one in malaysia. Here in New Zealand you can register your scripts with the writers guild as a copyright protection. Not sure if they do proposals or synopsis though.

Yeah you can get the book from amazom.com.
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Old November 3rd, 2002, 02:50 PM   #6
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Although the registered mail trick is "heard of" alot, most of the time when someone who actually knows copyright laws weighs in, they advise that you actually have your document witnessed and impressed by a notary public (or the equivalent in your country). Apparently holds up a lot better in copyright court.
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Old November 4th, 2002, 08:38 PM   #7
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I'll do what I can for protection.

But what is the chances of our script/ideas get copied ?
I mean does this normally happen or its a very rare cases?
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Old November 7th, 2002, 05:10 AM   #8
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my 2 cents

Hi MichaelC-

I'd really recommend getting an agent or someone you know who also knows the guys you are thinking of approaching. That way you can have a little clout going in and an outside person that both the studio and you can be honest with. I'd recommend having a finished script in hand if they will meet with you. The whole 'I got a great idea' thing looks really bad and if they call you on it, which I've seen lots of people who have been around the block do in public and private run ins, you will be really unhappy you made your formative meeting with that as an after taste. I have a couple companies that I want to approach for a feature project that I want to do next year, but I will wait. I may even wait till it's done and in a decently know festival before I bring it up. I had a great learning experience when I met with two distributors who smell out my green-ness when they asked me if:
a. I had anything finished that was out there (being distributed and by who)?
b. If I had my financing and distribution offers all resolved for the project I mentioned?

As far as idea and the theft of ideas. No one owns ideas. We are what, 2 billion people in the world, and we've been around for thousands of years (walking upright). No one can steal your idea. It's good to copyright your stuff for sure. And register it with the WGA, if you have money to throw around. But really, I consider it a great expense unless you are a real name, as in you published a couple books or you're a reporter or journalist. That's a different league. Just read the book, 'you'll never eat lunch in this town again' to see how not even options will stop a studio from taking ideas. It all does come down to if someone does take your idea or someone elses, do you have the money to sue? And usually, it's probably not. Which might be a legally humbling lesson, at least in my book.

A friend of mine who works at Paramount, and does stuff for their smaller Classics label, gave me some great advice when she said, '... they don't know you at all. So control that intial meet so that it's to your advantage completely. Don't go in unless you are going in with the way you want them to remember you for years to come.' It's tough advice and surely harsh advice when you have all the energy in you boiling up to the top, but I do think it's good for me to treat all this stuff with the same professionalism that people with the money do. After all, just because we got cameras and a computer, that doesn't make us filmmakers. There's a playing field where that will be eventually decided, after all.

Finally, please take my rant with a grain of salt and do your best no matter what YOU decide. You posted a question and I was happy to put my 2 cents in. Take care.

christian
nebunule films llc
los angeles, ca
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Old November 7th, 2002, 05:25 AM   #9
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A treatment is just an original story, that has not been planned out yet into a full working structure for a script.

After that you will develop the treatment, into a structure... once than it is done you add the diaglogue,

then you have a first draft. This lasts until everyone is happy and you have a shooting script.

Well that is one of the lingo's used, there are a few other words around too.

kermie
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Old November 7th, 2002, 12:08 PM   #10
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"Independent producers, directors or writers wanting to see their projects come to life on the big screens are welcome to send their story ideas or scripts to us. We can then work towards putting the movie together. "


This is written on the companies brochure like book.

It mentioned story ideas, and they requested me to send in a treatment or script and a proposal after I write to them.

Thanks for all the explanation and advice.

Christian,
in my country, we do not have such agent to deal with stuff like this :(
it really sux big time over here, and this company i'm approaching is from a neighbouring company. Its quite established though, and often, I've heard that the shortest written synopsis would be the best as most likely, they won't have the time to go thru the entire thing.

I may call them up and see what they say coz they have not been replying my mail.
Any further advice would be gladly appreciated.

And christian, I think I surfed your website before, and I was wondering how do you get the funds to produce your digital feature?

Is it taken from your own money or somewhere else?

At the moment, I am trying to approach companies with my script, and if thats unsuccessful, I'd like to produce my own feature and hope to get advice on how to secure the funds or any other relevant info that may be useful for me. Thanks guys.
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Old November 7th, 2002, 02:50 PM   #11
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* * POOR MANS COPYRIGHT * *

MichaelC,

Protecting an idea is difficult enough in one country let alone crossing borders.

Maybe this will help:

Because I live in the United States, its better to copyright your material with the Library of Congress for $30.00. Then do a Poor Man's Copyright by dropping a copy in the mail to yourself and never opening it.

I am surprised that the company asking for the treatment and/or synposis doesn't have you sign a document also. Some of the collaborative writing pools, you need to agree in writing, ala non-disclosure, to not talking about it with anybody.

Here is a definition of a treatment:

http://www.internetcampus.com/treatmen.htm

Generally they run from 2 pages on. What ever you need to get across. Make it interesting and sell the idea(s). I've written four and I am by no means an expert.

I hope this helps you out. You might also want to check out:

http://www.dv.com

There "Taking Care of Business" has some good points. Search under DPBEGIN or LHORIZON. I had a question about this schtuff sometime ago when I was in a similiar situation of sharing and freaked out.

Cheers!

Derrick
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Old November 16th, 2002, 10:35 AM   #12
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Proposal:

A simple outline/ synopsis of your idea (usually no longer than 250 words)

The genre

Estimated duration

Cast crew if already decided

Estimated cost

Contact details

and an outline of your company.

Treatment:

A more in depth outline of your idea, taking it through beginning middle and end. Adding what sort of camera angles and music you would like, establishing style, etc

Locations (Studio, On location), where and why.

Duration

No. of episodes

Cast

Crew

Costs - Budget outlining in detail how much each thing will cost

Equipment


Hope this helps,

This type of format managed to get me through college.

All the best,

Ed Smith
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Old November 16th, 2002, 11:53 AM   #13
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Thanks Ed.

But Derrick mentioned that he's surprised that the company did not mention to have me sign any document before sending in my ideas and stuff, so is this the normal practice of the industry?

or do I just send the proposal and do not worry too much since I am still a 'nobody' at the moment..
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Old November 16th, 2002, 05:50 PM   #14
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Re: my 2 cents

I'll have to add to this.

The only reason why people steal stuff in the first place is because there is a percieved value.

If you are sending a treatment, it requires work, i.e. money to transform it into a marketable item. Thus they are less likely to steal it. They would be much more inclined to steal something that is as close to finished as possible.

Adrian
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