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 coming of age story about the unlikely bond that forms between a sexually adventurous teenage girl and her obese, mentally unstable step-brother.”
karel Segers: The promise for this movie is that there will be a bond forming… Nothing visual, nothing cinematic.
It seems to me that the only – for some perhaps dubious – appeal from this logline is in what the sexually adventurous teenage girl is going to do (and look like).
“It is terribly low concept, so it depends entirely on the execution.”
My question is: what sort of journey will they go through, that binds them? This should ideally be a tangible goal that either character needs to achieve and whereby the other will be a help or a hindrance.
It is a terribly low concept, so it depends entirely on the execution. Because the script made it onto the Blacklist, I suspect this execution to be excellent and an opportunity for a talented cast to shine. It is the type of film that smells like Academy Award material. Think RAIN MAN.
If directed well, it is also the type of material that proves you don’t need a big budget to make great movies and compete effectively with Hollywood.
Steven Fernandez: There’s nothing in this logline that strikes the reader as being particularly different or particularly deep when compared to all the (so many) others of this kind before it.
The concept lacks distinction and lacks any compelling quality.
“The leader of a fourteenth century Scottish whaling village must seek out and do battle with a whale many times larger than any he has ever seen in order to ransom back his son from the occupying English.”
Steven Fernandez: This concept sounds like a mongrel cross between “Moby Dick” and “Beowulf”. And, even as that, it lacks promise as effective drama.
Firstly, what real threat does this big whale represent to the British? Is it threatening some trade route? If so, why couldn’t the Poms send out a trio of warships to find it, bracket it, and then kill it? Cannons were available by 1350. In fact, ship-mounted ballistae would do the trick as a cheaper alternative. So why bother involving recalcitrant Scots in this at all? If the whale is not worth three warships, then, again, why would the Poms care about it? Big plot logic hole just here.
” While “Jaws” successfully made a sea animal an effective antagonist, its doubtful that a conventional big whale could come close.”
Secondly, while “Jaws” successfully made a sea animal an effective antagonist, its doubtful that a conventional big whale could come close. Even sperm whales are not in the habit of munching on humans (or even seals or dolphins … their jaws don’t work well for that). While a conventional whale could certainly defend itself competently against whalers, these creatures are not in the habit of attacking anyone minding their own business. So where’s the threat even to the Scots? [I am treating orca/killer whales as unconventional types here.]
If this particular big whale is somehow atypically aggressive and bloodthirsty, then what seperates this story from “Moby Dick”? What’s the difference? The kid held for ransom? Hardly a difference of substance!
Karel Segers: The leader of a fourteenth century Scottish whaling village must seek out and do battle with a whale many times larger than any he has ever seen in order to ransom back his son from the occupying English.
He’s gotta kill a fish to see his kid again. That’s JAWS meets INCEPTION, right?
“We don’t know much about the main character. Yes, he is a leader – but does he learn anything during the journey?”
The problem here is that we don’t see any connection between the whale and the occupying English. Shouldn’t he be battling the English? I’m sure there’s great conflict and an amazing Blacklist script but the logline doesn’t make much sense.
We don’t know much about the main character, either. Yes, he is a leader – but does he learn anything during the journey? What is his issue? Why exactly does this task befall him?
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.loglineit.com.
The Judges (click for details)