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 former rodeo star unknowingly starts a rapport with a young man who is responsible for all of the violence that has suddenly gripped his small town.”
Cameron: The protagonist in the form of the rodeo star, develops a relationship with a troubled young man who has been antagonizing his small town. This logline is more or less the inciting incident of the story and is vague in regards to a goal and antagonistic force.
“The logline only serves as the inciting incident to the story and is vague in regards to a goal.”
SydneyPaul: This tells us the potential for conflict, but really leaves it at that. So this ex rodeo star and the youth strike up some kind of relationship, and the youth is responsible for violence….then what? What kind of violence? What is the clash? Is it whether rodeo star can steer youth away from crime or whatever?
” The logline tells us the potential for conflict, but leaves it at that.”
Some of this vagueness should be clarified if possible.
“A successful attorney returns to his home town for his mother’s funeral only to discover that his Alzheimer’s-stricken father is suspected of murder and must represent him in court. The ordeal becomes an emotional journey that makes him a better man.”
Cameron: The biggest problem with this logline is the second sentence. It doesn’t need to be there. The sentence states that there will be an emotional journey and the protagonist will evolve as a man because of it. Some sort of emotional journey no-matter how minuscule or almost non-existent, is a given in any film.
“The conflict is clearly defined and is a true moral dilemma.”
What works is that the conflict is clearly defined and is a true moral dilemma. An attorney son defends his Alzheimer’s stricken father who may have committed a murder. The stakes are high. If the son discovers his father is guilty, his personal life and professional life which relies upon stretching the truth if necessary, would be strained if not torn apart. Does the son protect his father no-matter what?
SydneyPaul: This is fairly wordy…the second sentence in particular is mostly unnecessary (the ordeal makes him a better man is pretty much the arc we would assume).
Should the attorney be ‘successful’? If he was, we might be more inclined to think he should be able to deal with this ordeal, so the struggle would not be so great. Perhaps it might be more of a challenge if he was a ‘struggling’ attorney? Or perhaps he is a ‘selfish’ attorney and the ordeal gives him perspective about the importance of family?
“This is fairly wordy…The second sentence is mostly unnecessary.”
Here is a suggestion which may have some use:
“When a struggling attorney returns home for his mother’s funeral to find his Alzheimer’s-stricken father is suspected of her murder, he must wage the case of his life to save his family – and himself.”
Also the title seems strange – it’s not about the judge is it, it’s about the lawyer and/or the case. Perhaps it could be called “The judgement” or…..?
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)