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
Devils At Play
[message type=”simple” bg_color=”#DCDCDC” color=”#333333″]”In the Soviet Union in 1937, a worker of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs finds a list of traitors, which he thinks is going to be his way out.”[/box]
Cameron: In the current logline we get a sense of time, place and a half baked goal. ‘ He finds a list of traitors, which he thinks is going to be his way out.’ Way out of what exactly? As Well as the stakes. Is there somebody after him or blackmailing/threatening his family giving the protagonist a limited time to hunt down these traitors?
” Provide the source of antagonism with what’s at stake…”
If the Protagonist is looking for a way out, maybe describing him as ‘desperate’ and add the source of antagonism with what’s at stake if he can’t use the list of traitors to his advantaged, would suffice as a more compelling logline.
Nicholasandrewhalls: I think what you’ve got here is a time period and a setup: In the Soviet Union of the 30s, a (describe your protagonist’s flaw) government agent finds a list of traitors …
” What you don’t have is a goal.”
But what you don’t have, besides the vague “he thinks this is going to be his way out”, is a goal. Now that he has the list, what’s the plan? Does he want to expose it? Does he want to show it to his superiors to gain favour? Does he want to use it as leverage to blackmail them? Does he want to gain asylum with the Americans? Without the goal, the genre is unclear, as are the stakes.
[message type=”simple” bg_color=”#DEDEDE” color=”#333333″] In a China-dominated near future, a former LAPD officer attempts to save his family from destitution in Los Angeles by working for a crime lord in the American ghetto within a thriving Hong Kong.[/box]
Cameron: What the logline has:
A clear story world where the Chinese government has spread it’s control on a global scale. A Protagonist in the form of an LAPD officer who is forced to work for a crime lord which is a good test of morals, cops are sworn to protect while criminals harm. But the reason why the Protagonist is working for the crime lord is a bit unclear.
“Having a cop who is forced to work for a crime lord provides endless moral conflicts…Two opposite ends of the spectrum.”
If he’s doing it to protect his family who live in LA when the Protagonist and the crime lord are in Hong Kong, how is that a factor? I get that he could be doing it to send money back home, but what’s stopping the Protagonist from performing any other work that isn’t life threatening. In the screenplay, obviously there is a reason and it would add a sense of urgency if it were in the logline.
Nicholasandrewhalls: Like the concept, love the title … but …
The link between working for the crime lord and the safety of his family is unclear. How will working for the crime lord save them?
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)