Treatment Guide

28 May 2012
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Stephen Whelan, Executive Producer, White Lodge and Fashion Film panel member, gives his advice on preparing your treatment:

“The key thing to have in the forefront of your mind when preparing your treatment is clarity. You will probably have spent a substantial amount of time researching and pulling references so your treatment really needs to be about synthesising and distilling this into one clear and concise vision.

Bear in mind that the panel will be looking at a large number of applications. We need to get an immediate and unambiguous sense of what your film is about, what happens in it, how it will be shot and what it will look like. Can you describe in one sentence what the concept is? If not, we probably won't be able to extract that from your treatment - even if the picture references are beautiful.

Talk us through what we will see scene by scene. The film doesn't have to have a discernible storyline, but you should consider narrative flow, how and why each scene follows on from the next. How will you create tension and release for instance?

Also think in practical terms. Whilst there will be a professional team supporting you at each stage we need to see that you've considered the realities of set design, location, lighting, post production and so on. Your idea needs to be feasible within a limited budget. Also consider what camera you'd like to shoot on an why. What sort of focuses you want to use with your lenses. Again, you'll have professional guidance but you'll impress us if you show you've considered the technical elements of your production and their use as tools to create your vision.

Think creatively. We don't want to see clichés. No corn fields! No kaleidoscopes! BFC Fashion Film is about promoting new ways of thinking about this exciting emerging genre. Break rules, challenge boundaries and show us something we haven't seen before! Yes, the film needs to promote the collection but consider alternative ways of doing that beyond the obvious use of a model. Look at the films screened at Fashion Film’s AW12 season at LFW: Victoria Beckham’s innovative use of animation to showcase her diffusion line, or if you want to consider focusing on a specific item of clothing, look at Christopher Raeburn's Scorch Film- super simple and utterly engaging. How might you show the clothing in a completely unexpected way?

And talking about showing - references. Referencing gets us through the looking glass and in to the world of your film. We need to see specific lighting styles, staging, art direction. You need to precisely evoke the world you want to create or convey. If you want to shoot on a location show us what the architecture is like. How will you frame it? We don't expect your references to be exhaustive as space is limited, but we should look at the page and immediately know what the tone and mood of your film will be. And don't feel you have to reference fashion stills. Reference artists, photographers, films. Anything you think gives a clear view of what the film will be like.

We can't stress enough how important it is to start with the collection. Which is why we're finishing with it - so it's fresh in your mind. Really think about the concept behind the collection. Who is the woman? How did the collection come about? Why have certain decisions of silhouette and fabric been made? Is the mood somber or upbeat? Your film should embody the essence of the collection to heighten its emotional resonance."