Logline it! – Black List – Week 19

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

DOPPELGANGERS

[box]”Buttoned-down 20-something Eric isn’t ready to marry his longtime girlfriend Abby. His only way out is through slacker Sam, his identical twin brother, who offers to pose as Eric to do the dumping. But the plan becomes a disaster when Sam realizes Abby is actually really cool–and falls head over heels for her…”[/box]

Steven Fernandez: Firstly, we have two brothers here who seem to be equally commitment-phobic losers. (They certainly are twins, I guess.) It’s hard to care much about either, even in the context of a comedy.

Secondly, there is a plausibility problem here. Unless the twins have lived widely apart for many years and Sam has only recently come into town, why did not Sam notice Abby’s specialness in all this time? As brothers of the same age, Sam would have had many occasions to see and speak to Eric’s girlfriend in parties and so forth. Given the likely length of Sam’s association with Abby, what would there be about her that would remain undiscovered by him?

“We have two brothers here who seem to be equally commitment-phobic losers. It’s hard to care much about either, even in the context of a comedy.”

Sure there may be cheap gags to be had with the brothers as they are (one, a boring dope, and the other, a slacker). And you can get a few more gags about them being twins too. But none of this makes for an engaging story. Particularly not a feature-length one.

Even for a goof-ball comedy, this kind of set up – where the intended ‘dumper’ falls for the girl he is supposed to be ditching – requires some kind of credible basis where the dumper has not had much opportunity to get to know the girl until put in the position of trying to dump her. The two brothers being twins short circuits this.

On the face of it, the story portrayed by this logline is so weak that I can only suppose that the script is loaded with clever lines and hilarious situations.

Cameron: The logline can be cut down exponentially and still contain all the essential elements that are clustered in the three lines. Now, as for those elements; what this logline accomplishes is a cool concept but on the outside looking in, creates a thin story.

“The logline can be cut down exponentially and still contain all the essential elements that are clustered in the three lines.”

This screenplay could be amazing with awesome characters and dialogue, but the logline fails to excite due to logic which creeps to mind. It feels like a short film, how long in a logical sense, could this situation last. From the logline it, it sounds like the script will be a bunch of repeated beats…

The character dynamics have dramatic potential, with obvious antagonistic elements between the brothers, which may add enough depth to the doppelgänger gimmick.

BORDER COUNTRY

[box]”A veteran goes to war against a crew of corrupt cops intent on controlling the US / Mexico border.”[/box]

Steven Fernandez: Firstly, shades of “First Blood” #1 here. But, even leaving that aside, there is the problem of why should the reader care about the veteran’s struggle.

On the plus side, the protagonist and the corrupt cops make good adversaries. One can clearly see a feature-worth of combat/action potential between them.

The problem is – again – why should the reader care about the protagonist? His motivation is too vague. To be fair, the reader can guess that the veteran seems to have some generic sense of justice or duty. Which is nice, but lacks a strong ‘pull’ to empathy on its own. A more personal/human extra motive is needed here. Even if it is as simple as defending a woman being harassed by the cops. (A single mother would be a good candidate for as such a woman.)

“The problem is – again – why should the reader care about the protagonist? His motivation is too vague.”

An extra motivation that would strongly work is one that ties in with the veteran’s prior war/battle experience. For example, perhaps he feels the need to somehow honour or repay the comradeship of his squad-mates that never made it out. Some kind of survivor-guilt issue could also work, though that’s been done a few times already.

In summary, the vital missing element in this logline is the extra personal reason that is motivating the veteran’s fight for justice. That extra element may well be in the script. But its absence in the logline makes the story concept come across as hollow to the reader.

Cameron: The protagonist – a war vet, the antagonistic force – the corrupt cops. Great, conflict – but why should the audience empathize with our hero the war vet? Maybe the veteran has lost somebody close or still struggles with old injuries. Something, anything for the audience to relate to, otherwise, he’s just another action hero stopping the bad guys.

 

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)


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Cameron Pattison

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