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
“Two corrupt ex-cops travel to Coober Pedy with a bag of cash and play chicken with vengeful bikies, thieves, a yakuza wannabe, sociopathic rednecks and a rather short-tempered, one-armed deaf guy.”
The judges’ verdict:
Karel: “I would like to see some potential for character depth and I don’t see it. What do the two cops learn? If they do learn anything, it would be helpful to mention it. Right now, this sounds like yet another shallow quirky ozzy crime flick.”
I would like to see some character depth and I don’t see it
Steven: “Firstly, way too many antagonists. And not one is compelling or particularly powerful on their own. Better to have one, or maybe two, compelling antagonists: For example a genuine (not just “wannabe”) yakuza hit-squad and perhaps a seasoned local hunter. Secondly, it is not clear what likeable qualities the two protagonists will have.
It is not clear what likeable qualities the two protagonists will have
James: “It starts off promising, introducing the protagonists of the story and providing them with a flaw (their corruption). However it then loses the plot and throws us a bunch of random characters who seemingly serve no purpose but to be random characters. We need the ex-cop’s goal and these other characters need to be simplified down to one antagonist who is stopping them from achieving this goal (or alternatively stopping him can be their goal). ”
“Grace cannot stop counting things. It has cost her her job as a teacher and shut her off from the rest of the world. But meeting Seamus opens up the possibility of a normal life. Unfortunately becoming normal is a lot harder than Grace thought”
The judges’ verdict:
Patrick: “We have a main character, her profession and an interesting flaw. I’m getting an “As good as it gets” vibe, but with the girl having the OCD. But what’s the story? What is her clear obtainable goal, and what is stopping her from achieving it? ”
What is her clear obtainable goal
Steven: “There’s nothing here of compelling interest. The protagonist (Grace) clearly has a flaw, but no compensating strength or heroic or noble qualities. She also does not face any great challenges in the overt story. Worse than that, her goal (to be ‘normal’) is so lame and mediocre that it hardly is a goal worth having. Why could she not at least want to, say, paticipate in some TV talent contest? That at least would set up interesting tensions and conflict. ”
She does not face any great challenges in the overt story
James: “This is a perfect example of physical journey vs inner journey, the only problem is that this logline has no physical journey. Grace wants to be normal, good for her. But what is she willing to do to achieve this normality? She needs some sort of tangible obstacle for the audience to relate to, this can then be mirrored with her inner journey to becoming normal. Giving her this journey automatically insinuates change in the character, something with is so important and so over-looked in loglines. ”
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.logline.it.
The Judges (click for details)
Karel Segers wrote his first produced screenplay at age 17. Today he is a story analyst with experience in acquisition, development and production. He has trained students worldwide, and worked with half a dozen Academy Award nominees. Karel speaks more European languages than you have fingers on your left hand, which he is still trying to find a use for in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. The languages, not the fingers.
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