Logline it! – Week 17

Writing loglines is an essential skill for screenwriters, from early development through to the pitch. In this section, every week our panel reviews a few loglines posted to www.loglineit.com. Learn from the feedback and perfect your own loglining skills.

by The Judges

Prison Actually

“After falling for the woman who defrauded his company, a now bankrupt playboy hatches the perfect plan to win her heart: he’ll bust her out of prison.”

The judges’ verdict:

Paul: “I think this could make a good story. It has many desirable elements. There’s the irony of having a playboy (I’m assuming he’s a bit of a player) falling in love. And that she’s the very woman responsible for him being bankrupt. He has a clear goal, break her out. Obstacles, a prison is designed to keep people in. And stakes, he could end up in jail himself if he’s caught (a possible comedic ending?).”

He has a clear goal, break her out

Karel “It sounds like there’s a good story in there but I’m not getting it completely. I can see what Act 2 is about: he’s trying to get her out of prison. But where does the story really start? With the fraude – or the falling in love? Romantic films need to give the heroes plenty of opportunity to share the screen. Is this the case here? I understand that she is going to be in prison for all of Act 2, while he is on the outside… May be a problem.”

I can see what Act 2 is about…But where does the story really start?

Steven: “A far more compelling story would be this man having an office affair with this woman while she is still employed by his company. Then, despite his first intentions, he falls in love with her. And THEN she runs off the company’s money. Thus forcing him into having to make a heart-wrenching decision about what he truly values in life – love or money.”


“A frazzled man’s secret lives are set to collide when he discovers his wife has invited everyone he knows to his surprise 40th birthday.”

The judges’ verdict:

Paul: “An interesting idea. Could be a good start. But the real hook is what the different lives are, and how they are incompatible. It should be something we haven’t seen before, hopefully dripping with irony. Also, I don’t like ‘frazzled’. That’s a very temporary emotion rather than a characteristic. He would be frazzled because of the impeding chaos at the party. But that doesn’t define who he is. Give us something better.”

 The real hook is what the different lives are, and how they are incompatible.

Phyllis: “Superficially this story smacks of a Woody Allen-esque comedy of errors, but I sense an insidious quality to this logline. Is this your intention? Has the wife discovered this secret lives and this is her way of unravelling his world in a very public, embarrassing fashion? Why is he frazzled? This feels like only half the story – half a logline. We need to know more.”

This feels like only half the story – half a logline

Karel: The promise of this movie is based on a secret we are not let in on. This never works. What should the viewer expect to see in Act 2? Is this a comedy? Then what is our hero’s main problem during Act 2? What does he try to achieve or prevent? We need to know more.


If you have an opinion on any of these synopses or the feedback from the judges, please share it with us in the comments below. Please keep the discussion constructive. Even if your first instinct may be subjective, try to give us as objective a reply as possible. The objective is to all (that includes us, judges) learn from the exercise.

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)

2 thoughts on “Logline it! – Week 17”

  1. I think both premises sound inventive and fun. What I’d like to see (or hear) at the top of each one, right after the title, is what kind of film it is. For “Surprise” in particular, it could be a romantic comedy (“Micki + Maude”) or a black comedy (“Death at the Funeral”). Those are two completely different films that would interest completely different production companies. You don’t want to bait-and-switch – and ruin a contact – so be clear up front.

  2. Prison Actually – I think what is evident from the judges feedback is that the constituents of the premise do not reveal a coherent structure or flow of events.
    Is this a fairy tale, what happens once she’s rescued? Are they fugitives on the run or end up like Bonny & Clyde. What is the subtext here, he forsakes money for love?

    Surprise – I would have to disagree with Phyllis’s feedback here, too often in feedback the personal film taste of the reviewer is imposed on the person receiving feedback. This could be a John Cleese ‘Faulty Towers’ setup, or a Peter Sellers comedy or even more mainstream Steve Carrell. I guess what’s not clear for me in the premise is how you would structure this for a film, it has promising conflict but is that because he is hiding secrets from his wife?

    For both loglines to be clearer, my best feedback would be to quote Aaron Sorkin http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/17/entertainment-us-stevejobs-film-idUSBRE84G1H320120517

    “Drama is tension versus obstacle. Someone wants something, something is standing in their way of getting it.”


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