How to write a music video treatment:
by 2X Platinum Award-Winning Music Video Director, Alex Di Marco
Here are some killer tips on how to write a music video treatment. Remember, music videos are highly subjective, creative, and artistic projects. Each music video treatment or concept should be created uniquely to the project, itself. In my professional opinion, there are no template treatments. Uniqueness on all fronts is key.
COVER PAGE: My biggest note; do this page last. Literally, make the cover page of your music video treatment after you’ve figured out everything that goes inside of it. This way, you’ll be able to properly convey the overall tone and general aesthetic from the jump.
Breakdown & Outline: Listen to the song and make notes with time stamps. Example: From START to 00:32 = 1st verse, 00:33 - 00:54 = 1st Pre-Chorus, and so on … once you’ve identified each section of the song, begin categorizing your ideas with these time marks as your section headers. This way everything will flow from start to finish with a detailed section-by-section breakdown of your creative concept in accordance with the track’s specific runtime.
Visualize: Once the breakdown outline is completed, you’ll want to start adding the icing on top (punny). Imagery. This step is the most crucial of your entire music video treatment. People are visual creatures, our eyes flow through the imagery first before we invest further in the reading of the material. Make sure your imagery selections best represent your breakdown! Be precise. Use photos that best represent your vision and the final product. DO NOT use photos that go against this. This is big differentiator in amateur treatments vs. professional music video treatments. If there was any time to show your client/artist what the final product is going to look like — it’s here.
Introduce Yourself: This page will go before the breakdown and imagery and right after your cover. You’ll want to keep it brief. Highlight a short bio that applies to you AND the project you’re pitching on. If you’re pitching a rap video, don’t start talking about how many “how-to cooking recipes” you’ve filmed. Drop a line or two about why you’re the person for the project with relevant references. Lastly, take a paragraph to explain how you see yourself executing the following concept.
Technical Page: I don’t always include this on my treatments, but any extra information, especially technical information, is going to help your clients better understand your approach AND professionalism. Be sure to mention resolution & format intentions (whether you’ll be shooting digital 1080, 4K HD, or in film). Include notes on editing techniques and any animation elements you may want to include, and what those animations will look and flow like. It doesn’t hurt to create a simple color palette either.
Compile & Deliver: You’ve finished everything that goes into the treatment. Now, create an attention grabbing cover page with the artist, title of the track, your name and date. Format everything into an easy-to-scroll-through document (I use Google Slides). Important! Review the final .pdf before you send it. Errors do occur and haphazardly sending a corrupted file to a client will defeat you’re entire treatment.
In closing, writing a music video treatment should follow these base principles while — stated above — remains unique to you, your filmmaking/artistic style, and to the project, itself. I would highly advise against using a standard “film-in-the-blank” music video treatment template. Remember, keep it unique, put your ideas out there and be fearless against rejection. The more you pitch the stronger you, your ideas, and resilience will get — and the better you and your music video treatments will be for it.
Music Video Treatment Samples
Provided by Alex Di Marco