Logline it! – Week 24

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 Lost Kelly Gold

“When a search for Ned Kelly’s lost gold becomes a life or death battle, it is up to an introverted young Goth to stand up to the murderous local cop hunting them.”

The judges’ verdict:

Steven: “It seems highly unlikely that a Goth would leave the comfort of the city to go out bush hunting for some merely rumoured treasure. What compelling motive would he have to leave his apartment? How could such an incurable urbanite be naive enough to go chasing fabled pots of gold? The antagonist, at least, is effective. And the protagonist is nicely under-matched against him. A more credible protagonist would be some simple, young, honest farmhand who wants the gold to settle down with his town sweetheart. A corrupt cop certainly is a stark contrast against him.”

The antagonist, at least, is effective.

James: “Because the protagonist is so random in this scenario it feels almost like s/he was thrown in just to mix things up. The simple way around this problem is to change the way you have written the logline. Start out with what the Goth is doing out (presumably) in the bush. ‘When an introverted Goth is forced on a bush walk s/he discovers…’ then you can lead into her discovery of the gold and how s/he is the only one able to stop the murderous cop It’s always better to start with the inciting incident rather than the first major plot point in a logline.     ”

It’s always better to start with the inciting incident

And Death Rode With Her

“When a grieving medic with deadly powers resists induction into the horsemen of the apocalypse, she must battle the remaining three in order to save the world”

The judges’ verdict:


Steven: “The logline is almost camp as it is. Assuming that this is not meant to be a spoof, more clarity is needed here. A “grieving medic” is an interesting character to start with. Saying she has “deadly powers” is too vague. Some readers will lose interest just there. Then going on about the “horsemen of the apocalypse” brings the whole thing down to apparent silliness. As there is no clear connection between someone who is suffering the very personal experience that is grieving and a sweeping mystical battle that will shake the world.”

  A “grieving medic” is an interesting character to start with

James: “This logline suffers from giving too much away, which is remarkable as its only 27 words. With most good movies there’s going to be two goals for the protagonist. The first one takes up the first half of the film and the second one comes in at the mid-point; this one is an extension of the first. This logline gives away what that second goal is for the protagonist, to save the world. I think it would read much better if rather than having to battle the other 3 to save the world…’she must discover why she has been chosen to join this sacred order at the risk of creating world chaos’ or something like that.  By putting this in the logline rather than jumping right to her final goal it implies that there will be more to the film than simply a 2 hour fight sequence.

This logline suffers from giving too much away

 

 

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)


One Comment

  1. joe velikovsky January 18, 2013 at 1:06 am #

    JT’s comment Part 2 (maybe this makes more sense, if you read my previous comment below, first. Or maybe not, too – LOL)

    – I also really thought that the comments/feedback from the Judges on `And Death Rode With Her’ were terrific too. ie – nailed the key issues, again. The Concept is GREAT. I would likely wanna go see this movie but possibly the Logline can be honed as suggested by the Story Dept Judges here.

    ie Steven makes some excellent points here. (ie, I just happen to totally agree, LOL).
    ie – It currently (the wording of the Logline) does – accidentally? – read perhaps a little bit `camp’ as the concept is so huge – and so, it does indeed, ambiguously maybe tilt towards `spoof’ – and; this is unlikely to be the intention.
    ie – It’s probably more meant to be: a `supernatural horror epic’ – like Constantine, or The Seventh Sign…

    ie So – possibly, the `Tone’ has therefore missed its target. Suggest: the Tone of a Logline actually needs to `tell us’ the genre, even in subtext.

    ie (This is all probably all very obvious) – a Logline for a comedy needs to make us laugh out loud; a Logline for a supernatural thriller-horror should (ideally) give us chills just from the simple statement of the Premise itself. (Also – I am not suggesting this is easy to do, in approx 25 words… but when it does: wow. And the `wow’ reaction is exactly what you need, right?)

    So – I totally agree on the specific point that `deadly powers’ is a bit too vague. eg Can it be made more specific? `with deadly powers of telekenesis’ (say)

    (or: of pyrokinesis, but, this was also `Firestarter’, so, needs something different/`fresh’, etc).

    Agree with James’ points above…. Possibly – too much given away… And: fascinating points James makes about the 2-stage thing!!! ie – Sold! Totally agree. My analysis of the Top 20 ROI feature films indicates they are all 2-stage stories EXACTLY how you describe James, and contrary to popular mythology/misconception – Aristotle actually said this in `Poetics': 2 parts, exactly as James mentions. (and, the great Aristotle never actually said `3 Acts’…)

    Alternately though (just entertaining an unlikely thought here), it kind of IS high concept – to hit us with the idea of `the 4 Horsemen’, if it can be done, somehow without giving away too much of the 2nd part/showdown aspect of the Story.

    The original suggested Logline reads:
    “When a grieving medic with deadly powers resists induction into the “When a grieving medic with deadly powers orsemen of the “When a grieving medic with deadly powers pocalypse, “When a grieving medic with deadly powers must battle the remaining three in order to save the world”

    Note: I do like the `undeserved misfortune’ suggested here, always a good way to create empathy. (ie – grieving medic)

    Alternately, maybe: suggest getting the idea of autopsy in there, (Bear with me… say a Coroner’s intern. ie A Student who is learning how to do autopsies. This could tie in to Revelations if she protagonist manages to identify a recent death as the Herald of the beginning of the Armageddon leading to The Rapture, etc. `The Seventh Sign’ with Demi Moore actually handled this pretty well in many ways. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seventh_Sign)

    So – (this still isn’t right, but the 4 horsemen are supposedly Pestilence, War, Famine and Death right?) I mean according to popular interpretation and like the popualr interpretation of Aristotle saying 3 Acts that may be problematic, I’m no Biblical Scholar. (I’ve read it – but I find parts of it deeply problematic. Long story; just me. I’m a skeptical empiricist. Though I do like how there are `rhyming ideas’ though. ie they `repeat everything, twice’, right? Good way to drum an idea into a reader. lol)

    Anyway, suggest: give us some detail of the: Pestilence, War, Famine & Death. ie How are they actually manifest, in this story? What’s the `fresh angle’ on the cool apocalyptic Biblical mythology?

    Eg – a random attempt (far from perfect)

    “When a grieving coroner’s intern discovers a horrific and deadly pandemic virus, she falls in with a secret wiccan cult – and must resist induction into the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, battling the remaining three – War, Famine & Death – in order to save the world from the Last Judgement.”

    So – loads of things clearly wrong with this, including: how long it is.

    And – also – I probably just `broke the story’ here. LOL.

    ie – My own take (which is not necessarily `right’) on such a concept might be that: some spectacular new `mutant pandemic virus’ (that: makes its victims’ blood turn to acid – and also literally boil inside their veins – and then – they explode, infecting everyone who thus, gets the virus on them – or: some-such unthinkable horror) is discovered in some dead people (in the autopsies).

    ie `Pestilence’… But for some reason – this protagonist is immune – and once she’s inducted into the cult, maybe she can spread the virus just by breathing on people, or even spitting – like a venom-spitting cobra. (ie be cool also if her head turned into a snake-head temporarily, as he was the original metaphor for Satan in Genesis yeah?)

    There is a fascinating doco on the History of the Devil here, actually.
    History Of The Devil

    Anyway, I do feel the judges really `nailed’ all the key issues with these Loglines and my opinion’s just: one opinion.

    Also I happen to have a fascination for bushrangers. I wrote a horror-comedy zombie theatre play – (and spec feature film screenplay) – about The Ribbon Gang:
    http://theabercrombiezombie.wordpress.com/

    Anyway – this was very educational and edifying. Really brings some key issues about Loglines to the forefront of the thinking:

    1) Short & punchy! (ie – everything my suggested Logline above: isn’t),

    2) Give us a Character in an Intense Situation and make us ask: Wow – Then What Happens???” (ie Make us desperately curious and want to read the screenplay)

    3) Hint very strongly at the Genre, from the events/objects/things/words mentioned/used. (eg suggesting: The `Supernatural Apocalyptic Horror’ Genre – say…)

    Cheers, and thanks, The Story Dept!

    Great stuff, as always.

    JT Velikovsky
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/

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