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Script Treatments and Working Scripts

First you write a Script Treatment -- then you write the Working Script -- the good news is that they are one and the same, just formatted differently. I am going to describe the Working Script first, because...

You have already seen a working script -- when you went to the PR Newswire page and read the script about workplace injuries. Take another look at that page (click on the link in this paragraph; when you're finished you can simply close that browser window to return here -- or you can use Alt-Tab to toggle back and forth).

You notice that the script is written in two columns -- the column on the left describes whatever is seen on the screen (the video) and the column on the right describes whatever is heard on the speakers (the audio). That's the conventional approach for working TV scripts.

Note that you don't need complete sentences in the video column... you can condense the description, providing just enough to communicate your point. You can use abbreviations like C/U for close-up and VO for voice-over -- but you don't have to. A working script can be very straightforward and commonsense in its language -- you don't have to take classes in the Television Department in order to write a video news release.

The working script will be used by the production team to create a shooting script. The shooting script is much more technical about camera work and timing -- it often breaks shots down to the mumber of seconds each will take. The fact that you've prepared a working script in two columns (audio + video) will make it easier for the production team to do their work -- and since they can look at your working script and tell at a glance how many interiors, exteriors, etc. will be involved, it will also be easier for the production people to give you an estimate of time and costs by looking at your working script.

So -- you're not a screenwriter -- how are you supposed to write a working script? Is there some easy approach to this? Answer: Yes, real easy. It's called a script treatment and it's something you've been doing since the first time you described that cartoon about the rabbit to your friend.

A script treatment is nothing more or less than a simple description of what's going on -- what you're seeing on the screen and what you're hearing from the speakers. After you plan your message, you'll "see" the video story in your mind's eye -- your ideal TV news story resulting from your PR efforts. Then, when you're clear on what you would like to see on the tube, you just put it down on paper.


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