The Treatment Scene Breakdown
There is a cool trick I picked up when I was writing Pickings that has changed the way I write and contributed greatly to the quality of my work, and that is the Treatment Scene Breakdown. While writing the treatment for a film, I’ll create a simple table, as seen below, and break down my script, scene-by-scene, beat-by-beat. This method will help you maximize the efficiency of your film’s structure and give you an actual picture of how your movie is progressing. It’s a great analytical tool that’ll help you keep track of pacing and character development; it allows you to analyze your story structure and make the most out of every scene. For me, it’s a substitute for putting a bunch of sticky notes on the wall because there’s more space to write stuff in, it’s more fluid, and I can still reorganize the scenes in any way I want, at any stage, without missing a beat.
Every decision you make in your movie should be made to achieve a result and have a purpose. This way of breaking down your treatment allows you to establish the purpose of each scene and understand what your character’s motivations are for the scene in question. This will become super-handy once you start working with actors, and the dreaded “what’s my motivation in this scene?” question arises.
Another cool tool I use is the “key emotion table.” Once I have my scene breakdown, I’ll go through it, scene by scene, and for every scene and every beat, I ask myself a very important question: “What is the key emotion here?” As an audience member, what am I supposed to be feeling at this moment? Is it sadness? Happiness? Dread? Tension? Am I supposed to feel bad for a character? The response could help you visualize your shot list down the line, and maximize the scene’s potential for evoking emotion (which is what a good scene is supposed to do anyway).
Use this Emotion Wheel to dig a little deeper into your character's emotions.