Logline it! – Black List – Week 17

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 


“An astronaut travels back in time to enlist the help of his younger self.”

Steven Fernandez: Firstly, there is a plausibility problem here: An astronaut (presumably during the pinnacle of his career) travels back in time to gain help from his younger (and presumably less established and less skilled ) self? Sounds nonsensical on the face of it.

If, a la “Butterfly Effect” #1, the astronaut’s purpose is to save the life of a sweetheart (or parent or sibling), then that fact is too emotively effective to leave out of the logline.

By leaving the astronaut’s purpose out of the logline, the writer(s) are doing their script no favours. Any professional reader would assume the underlying script was written by amateurs just on this basis. (Bad impression to convey!)

“the astronaut’s purpose is critical in trying to evaluate the commerciality of this concept”

I would also question the necessity for the central character to be someone as high profile as an astronaut. A more ‘mortal’ person might work better from an empathy point of view. Particularly if the time traveller’s purpose is intensely personal. (If scientific credibility around the time travel process is somehow important in this story, then the character could easily be a talented but flawed scientist, or even a test subject.)

In summary, the astronaut’s purpose is critical in trying to evaluate the commerciality of this concept. Not specifying this purpose is even worse than specifying a lame or over-done one.

Cameron: A huge piece of the logline is missing. Cause and effect, why is the astronaut enlisting the help of his younger self?

“Cause and effect, why is the astronaut enlisting the help of his younger self?”

Is somebody he cares for in danger, or is there a maniacal terrorist plot threatening the space program and mankind?

Too much is left to speculation with the vagueness of the logline.


“Following a costume party where they dressed as cops, two best friends are mistaken for actual police officers and find themselves on the run, after being forced to bring a dangerous criminal back to the station.”

Steven Fernandez: Firstly, the plot logic of the logline is either dubious or confused, even for a comedy. Two guys being mistaken for cops … Okay … They are forced to go on the run … Mmm, interesting … Because they took some dangerous crim (under duress, apparently) to a police station … Huh? Where’s the post-incarceration threat coming from exactly? From the crim’s grandma?

It’s okay to want to present a plot that is quite different from genre norms. But, if you do so, your logline still has to present a scenario that makes apparent sense and that has dramatic potential on the face of it. This logline fails on both of these counts.

“The logline could/should have pinned down the intended tone better.”

Secondly – and some may think this is a quibble – the tone of this film is potentially ambiguous. Granted it comes across as most likely being a comedy, none the less this could be a drama instead. Certainly there could be little funny about being mistaken for cops if the two friends are being pursued along country roads by a bloodthirsty gang. The logline could/should have pinned down the intended tone better.

The plot logic problem is really bad here and it makes it all too easy for a potential producer or investor to dismiss this concept. Which would be a shame if the script happens to be cleverly written.

Nicholasandrewhalls: First off, I love the concept, great idea – but creating a scenario where people are mistaken for cops, but then having them evade the law is almost the exact opposite action I want to see from that set up. (I assume it is from the police that they “find themselves on the run” … and if not, please clarify in the logline who they are running from). I want to see these two guys FORCED into situations where they must continue posing as cops. Imagine they found themselves in the world of Training Day? They couldn’t reveal that they were cops or they’d get shot! No choice but to follow the case (whatever that is) all the way to the end!

By the above logline, it seems that the event is being mistaken for cops, and that the action is going on the run from the law. Adding that they had to take a crim to the station introduces a second event, but no resulting action. So lose one of the actions, and clarify why they have to go on the run.



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)

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