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Research Guides@Tufts

Multimedia Production Guide

for the Digital Design Studio at Tisch Library


Writing a proposal can be a great way to refine the scope of your project.  Depending on your format a proposal can include:

  • Names of individuals who will fill certain roles
  • Length of project and format
  • Log line (one -two sentence summary of the plot and central emotion)
  • Short Synopsis of Topic and/or Narrative (1-2 paragraphs)
  • Main Characters/Access to subject
  • Audience and Audience Biases
  • Supporting Research (including other films made on your topic and how yours will differ)
  • Structure/Form/Style
  • Budget


Below are a few things to consider when working on a proposal:

  • Purpose - your motivation behind creating this project 
    • What is the purpose of the video? (inform? teach? motivate? sell? persuade? entertain? enlighten? advocate? share? explain?)
    • What essential message do you want to communicate? 
    • Why does this need to be told through media? 
    • What other media has been made on this topic and how does yours differ?  
  • Audience – who is this project for
    • Who is my intended audience?
    • How will you reach this audience? 
    • What prior knowledge (if any) might they have of the topic?
    • What do I want my audience to do after seeing my presentation? (e.g., check out a website? talk to their friend about a topic? contact their legislative representative? etc.)
  • Perspective – the point of view from which you will speak from
    • Who is telling your story and why?
    • Is this a character story? travel story? place story (narrative archaeology)? 
    • From what perspective will your video be told? (e.g., personal? journalistic? etc.)
  • Structure– how will you tell this story using media
    • How would you characterize the "tone" of your video? (e.g., formal/informal? upbeat? melancholy? etc.)
    • How will the content be sequenced? (e.g., linear/nonlinear? chronological? chance? etc.)
    • Is there a style or aesthetic that inspires your treatment? (e.g., black-and-white? minimalist? etc.)


An effective treatment should tell the reader what they will see and hear on screen as it unfolds over time.  It should leave the reader understanding why this project needs to be made at this particular moment making evident the main themes, subjects and stylistic approach.  

A treatment is distinct from an essay in that it focuses on actions and specific descriptions that can be seen and heard.  The reader should feel like they are experiencing your project rather than being lectured by facts and intentions.  For example:

Research based documentary treatment:

Don’t say…

Archival footage from the 1960’s will highlight how gender stereotypes were reinforced through media.  This will be juxtaposed with Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchento show how artists have used media language to subvert oppressive women’s roles in society.

Rather, say….

1960’s archival commercial, a woman dressed in a short, plaid dress and heels rushes to put dinner on the table before her husband arrives home.  Vibrantly colored cooking shows with women holding kitchen equipment cuts to a black and white sequence of a woman lifting an egg beater.  “Egg Beater.”  She grabs a stainless steel pot, places it on the counter, whisks the empty steel causing an abrasive sound and then places it back on the counter.   She mechanically lifts and names kitchen utensils in alphabetical order.  


Additional resources:

Documentary Treatment

How to Write a Treatment- UCLA

What is a synopsis? An outline? A treatment– Australian Government

How to write a documentary treatment andproposal – Desktop Documentaries

How to write a documentaryTreatment - Lights Film School

Narrative Treatment

How to Write a Treatment- UCLA

What is a synopsis? An outline? A treatment– Australian Government