Writing loglines is an essential skill for screenwriters, from early development through to the pitch. In this section, we review the loglines and short synopses of the screenplays that made it into the Blacklist 2012. Learn from the feedback and perfect your own loglining skills.
by The Judges
EX BOYFRIEND OF THE BRIDE
“After he finds out his ex-girlfriend is getting married, a man decides to go to the wedding in order to stop her from going through with it.”
Cameron: The logline, as it stands, is a simple representation of many films with the exact same cliche premise. If the script does indeed differentiate itself from the pack, what unique twist or quality does it have that can be used in the logline to spice things up?
“If the protagonist is still madly in love with this girl, than hinting at his desperation in the logline will add character and story flavour.”
There are zero reasons to care about the protagonist because he’s not described whatsoever , he’s simply “man”. Although the goal is clear along, with impeding urgency, what is at stake for the protagonist? If he fails, so what?
If he is still madly in love with this girl, than hinting at his desperation in the logline would add a bit of colour to the character and story. This guy could be a complete train wreck in every aspect of his life and the only way to get back on track is if he’s with his ex-girlfriend.
Steven Fernandez: Groan! Yawn! Have we not seen this story enough times already?
Going by the logline alone, this story sounds so cliche and uninteresting. If the script happens to be quite clever and distinctive, the logline totally fails to convey these qualities to the reader.
What the reader is left with is an oft-done crisis with nothing different presented about it. At a minimum, the reader needs to be intrigued by some new twist on this old tale. Is the ex-girlfriend marrying an alien or a serial killer, at least? (Neither being super original, of course, but at least that much would be a step in the right direction.)
“At a minimum, the reader needs to be intrigued by some new twist on this old tale.”
Much better would be the description of something redeeming about the protagonist. For example, perhaps he has had a clairvoyant ‘flash’ of what life will be like with the girl. Or perhaps the girl had left him over a silly and unfair misunderstanding. Or over a personal failing that he has now overcome … In short, any detail that will help the reader want to root for him.
For added appeal, an additional layer of distinctiveness would be really helpful here. For example, some kind of unusual cultural or ethnic angle (the girl is of an exclusive Hindu caste?). Or some interesting extra character (another girl who is actually better for the guy?).
“A runaway slave and a sheriff must journey to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Gubernatorial candidate against the backdrop of Kansas’ induction into statehood and whether or not it would be a slave or free state.”
Steven Fernandez: Firstly, a seriously badly muddled and clunky logline. Majorly unclear are a number of ‘whys’: Why would the slave and the sheriff join together in this quest? And why would some daughter make any kind of difference to a big political event?
Secondly, some of the historical references in this logline are quite obscure (especially “Gubernatorial”). Even for a switched-on LA professional.
The description of the political backdrop towards the end of the logline is overly wordy and has the net affect of diluting the dramatic potential that a reader can easily discern out of this concept.
“The lack of clear dramatic focus is this logline’s key failing.”
The lack of clear dramatic focus is this logline’s key failing. The script may well be gripping, but the logline smothers this quality by verbosely describing other, far less interesting, things.
A more focused approach would be something along the lines of “A sheriff and an escaped slave must put aside their differences in order to save the daughter of a reformist politician. Her kidnapping by fanatics threatens to undo the modernisation of Kansas.” (Normally mentioning 4 distinct individuals in one logline would be over-doing it, but I can’t see any way to avoid that here.)
Zombie Joel: A few questions – I’m assuming that the Gubernatorial candidate is against slavery? What happens if they don’t rescue his daughter? There’s two stories here – the kidnapping and the induction into statehood and I assume they are linked but this isn’t clear in the logline. Might be worth including the specific year or era of this – again I make the assumption that it’s around the Civil War.
“What are the stakes that both the runaway slave & sheriff and the candidate face?”
Has the daughter been kidnapped to ensure the candidate votes against freedom for slaves? What are the stakes that both the runaway slave & sheriff and the candidate face? You need something that ties these two strands together and tells us the consequences if the characters should fail.
So what is your verdict? Would you want to see these films? Why (not)? Did the judges get it right? How would you improve the synopses/loglines and what do you feel might improve the stories behind them?
To read the full reviews and those from casual visitors, go to www.logline.it.
The Judges (click for details)