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
Cameron: From the logline, we have a multi-protagonist story (brothers – an ex-con and divorced father) with an inciting incident (foreclosure of family farm) , a propelling action ( bank robbing spree) and an antagonistic force ( Texas Rangers). Also the writer is specific with the local being Texas which as a specific tone instead of it being a generic farm that could be anywhere.
“The logline could be more concise.”
My only suggestion would be to place a ‘ticking time bomb’ on the stakes, being the foreclosure. How long do they have to perform the the robberies? Do they have a week to come up with the money? If so, this would place more pressure on the robberies.
The logline could also be more concise. There are words here that can be easily cut. An example: ‘ Facing the foreclosure of their family’s farm, a divorced father of two and his ex-con brother, plan a daring bank robbing spree, pursued by two Texas Rangers.
SydneyPaul: A few thoughts on your idea:
a) an ‘ex-con’ seems pretty stereotypical and unsurprising that they would rob a bank. It may work better with a less obvious teaming “a divorced father of two and his Buddhist sister…..”?
b) Why a bank-robbing spree? To stop the foreclosure only one robbery would be necessary. A spree might make sense if the motivation is revenge against the bank’s greed?
c) It could also be shortened.
So an idea that may provide some use…
“When a divorced father of two and his Buddhist sister face foreclosure on their family’s West Texas farm, they plan a breathtaking robbery that puts them on a collision course with two Texas Rangers.”
“A woman who tries to raise her catatonic son on her own suddenly discovers a shocking secret about him.”
SydneyPaul: ….and then? This provides a dramatic set-up, but where does it go?
“The logline provides a dramatic set-up, but where does it go?”
We don’t necessarily need to know what the shocking secret is, but we need to know that its discovery will compel certain action – “discovers a shocking secret about him….
“…that she must hide from the authorities or it will tear apart her family”?
“…that she must expose to bring down the military experiments that put her son in a coma”
“…that may not only provide the key to awakening him, but…..”
Starting to answer some of that may paint your story a little more clearly.
Cameron: The logline reads as if it were a teaser for someone in the general public reading a TV guide instead of a sentence that encapsulates the story. The logline provides an inciting incident and nothing more.
” The logline provides an inciting incident but not the propelling action.”
We realise who the protagonist is and her problem in the form of her son with a devastating ‘secret’, but what we don’t know is the consequences of the secret which will propel the story. What action will the ‘secret’ cause? Does the protagonist need to go on the run with her son to protect him? Is he possessed by some demonic force? This will also help to weed out a genre, because right now ‘Shut In’ could be anything.
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)