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.logline.it. Learn from the feedback and perfect your own loglining skills.
by The Judges
The Glass Blower
“Twenty-year-old Nicole is a cleaner at a prestigious art college but dreams of becoming a glass blower. When a new teacher, Kiera, discovers her talent Nicole accepts her help and they form an unconventional relationship leading Nicole to a buried secret that has been kept from her since she was a child.”
The judges’ verdict:
Steven: “Bit of a copy of “Good Will Hunting”, here … only with girls. Nicole should at least want to be a sculptor or artist, rather than a “glass-blower”. Glass-blowing sounds lame as a dream or goal. A teacher helping out a diamond-in-the-rough student and forming an “unconventional relationship” with her sounds, itself, very conventional and very much done before as a story (“Educating Rita”, “Dead Poets’ Society”, even “Pretty Woman”). There is some meat and potential with the “buried secret’ idea, however.”
There is some meat and potential with the “buried secret’ idea.
Nina: “Nicole appears to be a passive protagonist. Nicole accepts Kiera’s help leading her to a buried secret are not active enough. Passive protagonists often make for a slow and uneventful story. The promise of drama seems to arrive in Act two when a buried secret is introduced which is far too late”
Passive protagonists often make for a slow and uneventful story.
Geno “Too wordy, but also not enough of the “right” words that provide the important information. You can start by deleting name, age and occupation as they are essentially irrelevant to a logline (in most cases, unless, of course, the name, age and occupation IS the story). You may want to define what the “unconventional relationship” is in greater detail, as this seems to be the entire hook of the story”
“A haunting tale of a family in extremis, based on her own novel.”
The judges’ verdict:
Karel: “What this logline suggests to me is a film that fits under no umbrella other than ‘drama’. I can see a poster with the family members looking away from us, none making eye contact. We feel alienated before we even enter the cinema. To me, this logline is symptomatic for the poor understanding of screen story and marketing among some government gatekeepers in this country.
this logline is symptomatic for the poor understanding of screen story
and marketing among some government gatekeepers in this country.
Dave: “There really is nothing about the story here. The word haunting tries to evoke some tone, I think, but I have no clue what haunting means without more context. The family – is that the central character? I don’t know what the story even could be and, just because it was a novel, doesn’t mean that I would want to watch it.”
There really is nothing about the story here.
Steven: “And the actual story is … ??? Forget about the novel. Most producers won’t have read it. And with a logline this weak, they won’t be inspired to either. Assume the reader reads only comic books [quite true in LA) and get to telling him or her the story. Stop plugging the novel and tell us what the film is actually ABOUT.”
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.
3 thoughts on “Logline it! – Week 4”
The criticism of these log lines boils down to the fact that they wouldn’t get you to first base in Hollywood, and that only the writer’s mother would want to watch the finished film. I agree.
But this completely misses the point. These two log lines (and others reviewed in the past) have already been approved for development funding by Australian funding bodies. Are readers of this blog aware of that? Are all the judges even aware of that?
If the criticism is that films based on these log lines will be of little or no interest to a paying cinema audience, either in Australia or the wider world, then I completely agree. But this is a criticism of the government subsidised film industry in Australia, not of these log lines.
These log lines, and others you’ve reviewed, are all WILDLY SUCCESSFUL as log lines, for the simply reason that they got the writer a paying gig. Something readers of this blog (myself included), and I suspect the judges here all struggle to do.
(Incidentally, ‘based on her own novel’ was, I’m sure, the key selling point of that log line, as the novelist in question was Julia Leigh.)
The subtext here seems to be this – many of us disagree with what the funding bodies do with their money, and yet we allow their decisions to dominate our thinking. But the Producer Offset allows us to make films with 40 per cent of the money from the government, without the funding bodies ever having to give their approval. The threshold has even been reduced to $0.5m.
If we want to make films that audiences want to see, let’s analyse some log lines from writers who are trying to do just that. Not log lines from writers who are already going down a different path.
There is a lot to respond to here and for lack of time I have to choose.
These loglines were indeed picked from the Screen Australia web site. Technically they are not necessarily loglines – I think. I am not certain that SA picks for their web site what was submitted as ‘the logline’ as such. But it is striking that some look like loglines while others look like a different beast altogether. Whatever is the intention, something is not quite right.
What matters here, is that these are the sentences communicating to the tax payers where their money goes. And as a tax payer I find this plain insulting.
They’re bad. They’re awful. It is a complete outrage. And to me it is undeniable evidence of the incompetence of some people in the chain leading to funding, or publication of the funding decisions.
“Are readers of this blog aware of that? Are all the judges even aware of that?”
They may not be. But this is not the main point of this article series. There are two objectives:
1) Writers need to learn to write loglines, which I believe can be taught by showing the process when we start with a flawed version and point at what is wrong, then suggest improvements.
2) I would like the decision makers to become aware that we see their stupidity and incompetence, hopefully they’ll feel duly embarrassed and do something about it (well, here I’m probably being naive).
On the other hand, I agree we need to give examples of good loglines, too. In this respect I’m working on something for http://logline.it that deals with this.
Thank you for your feedback, I love to keep this dialogue open.
These really are shocking. I might have written only one screenplay, but even I can do better than this. How about reviewing some GOOD loglines?
If Clive is right, and these projects really have been funded here, then God help our industry :(
Is it any wonder so many Aussies aim for Hollywood & ignore Ozzywood?