I received this email today:
I am trying to pitch a movie. My question: Is there a specific format for an outline or treatment? Is there someplace I could get a sample of either or both?
Unless you are an established screenwriter, or are teamed up with a well-connected movie producer, there is no point in writing up an outline or a treatment. No one will ever read it or meet with you. You are better off writing the script…or the book… and trying to sell that to the movies.
On the other hand, if you are an established screenwriter or aligned with a hot producer, you still don’t need an outline… a simple, punchy, two-page "leave-behind" after your verbal pitch will do.
If they want an outline or a treatment, they can pay you for one.
That’s my advice, any way. Then again, most of my experience is in television, not feature film. You might visit screenwriter John August’s blog and pose the same question to him.
UPDATE: For details on how to write a series treatment, click here.