A process of screenwriting: a film treatment for ‘the Engineer-in-Chief’

The purpose of a film treatment is to convince the reader of a cinematic story and the potential for the film to reach a broad audience. The treatment is a prose summary of the story as it plays out, in a compressed form, and is a process of screenwriting. It ensures the story is coherent and its meaning is made clear by conveying a sense of screenwriting conventions. Specifically, for the genre of historical drama, the poetics of a film treatment will encapsulate a blend of verifiable facts and creative solutions that contribute to the understanding of the past. Screenwriters, by way of empathetic and informed speculation, bridge the gap between epistemology and imagination to capture the hearts and minds of the audience. In 1902, a brilliant engineer’s emotions are at breaking point in the final days of his life as he struggles to defend himself against false allegations of corruption and incompetence levelled at him by parliament and the press. This is the ‘true’ story of the Coolgardie Water Supply Scheme, in Western Australia, encompassing the longest water pipeline in the world, but events conspire against the Engineer-in-Chief, Mr C.Y. O’Connor, leading to his tragic death.