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
“A dangerous love affair between a photojournalist and a black market smuggler set against the June 2001 massacre of the Royal Family in Nepal.”
Cameron: What we have here is a statement of premise consisting of a time frame and a generalized arc between two characters but not exactly who the Protagonist is, nor clear goals or obstacles.
“What we have here is a statement of premise… not a logline.”
Though the story is based upon a true events, you can’t expect the reader to be instantly familiar with the event in question. How does the relationship between the photojournalist and black market smuggler impact or intertwine with the massacre?
Wilsondownunder: Who is the protagonist? The photojournalist or the smuggler? I assume journalist. Perhaps focus on the protagonist and tell us more about the relationship.
“What is the goal of the Protagonist?”
Immediately I’m wondering:
Why the journalist would want to be with someone working within the realm of the black market.
Why is it dangerous (aside from the obvious link to the black market and political turmoil) – who is the antagonist making things dangerous for this particular character?
What’s the goal of your protagonist – other than some good ol’ lovin?
Answering some of these questions in your logline will help the reader see your film in a snapshot.
“William Van Alen’s building of the Chrysler building and the competition to be the first to complete the world’s tallest building.”
Cameron: Again, a statement of premise rather than a logline. The premise does gives the reader a Protagonist with a clear goal but is vague on the Antagonist front. Instead of “competition” ,which may be referring to a rival building company, focus on a single individual that represents the Protagonist’s greatest threat.
“For an Antagonist, focus on a single individual that represents the “competition” so the Protagonist has someone to play off.”
Also, the stakes. If William is unable to complete the building or lose, what happens? He may become bankrupt, become so obsessed that he may lose a love interest etc.
Wilsondownunder: William’s character traits and any potential flaws he had should be incorporated into the logline. While most people know what the Chrysler building is and it’s significance, you still want the story to sound compelling, rather than a recount of history.
“While readers may know the history of the Chrysler building, you still want the story to sound compelling, rather than a recount of history.”
Something along the lines of:
An obsessive architect destroys all that is good in his life as he becomes consumed by his desire to build the Worlds tallest building – the Chrysler.
Not ideal but focussing it on the character rather than the story adds an element of interest – as we already know the story.