How to Write a Treatment for a Music Video
Music videos often feature large production budgets and can take on the form of mini movies. Types of music videos range from artists performing in live settings to videos with fully developed story lines. Like movies, music videos are made from scripts. Those scripts are written from a fully developed treatment. A treatment for a music video is written in present tense prose and details everything about the music video from its concept to the overall setting, look and tone. If you want to write a script for a music video that will allow you to present a music artist in his best light, writing a treatment before you begin is the best way to accomplish this goal.
Meet with the artist to discuss concept. The concept of the video is what the treatment you write will be based upon. Whether you're writing the script for the music video in the end or simply writing a treatment to deliver to a scriptwriter, your job is to capture the song subject and artist's interpretation of the song on video. The development of the concept for the video will be a team effort between writer and music artist.
Write the concept first, in present tense. Describe the concept of the video in full detail. The concept may be a metaphorical interpretation of the song or a literal interpretation. If the video will be primarily a live performance, describe performance almost as if you are writing the choreography for it. Describe what each member of the band is doing on stage, describe any special effects that come into play, and include notes about camera angles or specific shots you would like to see only if they are essential to telling the story.
Write in detail about the setting of the video. If the music video tells a story, write a synopsis of the story from beginning to end, including parts of the story that may not be shot for the video or may only be implied. The treatment is what the scriptwriter will use to build a script. The more detail, the easier the scriptwriter's job will be. Be sure to note when a particular scene needs to correspond to a lyric in the song.
Preface each scene description in the treatment with a description of the setting, the characters and how these elements relate to the video. Describe the tone and the actions of the characters. A treatment can include elements that won't be included in the script. These elements may include specific suggestions for how the performers in the video should act and specific locations in the song where a scene should occur. Lighting, special effects and other elements that affect the production of the video should be written out in the treatment as well. A well-written treatment gives the scriptwriter a basis upon which to write a complete script.
Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.