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
Around the Block
[box] “Set around the riots in Redfern during 2004 AROUND THE BLOCK is about breaking family and cultural cycles for a hopeful future. A contemporary story of love, revenge and triumph, a young Aboriginal boy becomes torn between his unexpected love of acting and the disintegration of his family.”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
Geno: “A bit long and disjointed, I’d say. Start out with “the young Aboriginal boy”, and you should always start with words like “When”, or “As”, or “After”, etc..” When an aboriginal boy chooses between acting or staying in the family business, his choice could result in losing his loved one’s, his financial security, and his girlfriend to the evil store manager.” Not a good logline, and certainly not yours, but that’s the general set-up.
You should always start with words like “When”, or “As”, or “After”
Steven: “The logline presented is verbose and details the wrong things. It needs to be sharper and more dramatic. For example, “a young boy reaches out to explore his love of acting, however his disintegrating family and riotsome neighbourhood do not lightly permit such lofty pursuits. His kinsmen are bent to make him abandon art and freedom for the sake of keeping to his Aboriginal roots.” There is a powerful story here for a courageous director.”
The logline presented is verbose and details the wrong things.
James: If it were up to me I would re-write this logline entirely. A story like this does have potential. It reads almost like an Australian “Billy Elliot.” Open by mentioning the boy and his disintegrating family, this is his flaw. Next mention his love of acting. With this a goal could be created simply by stating that there is a role in an up coming production that he wants. Finally mention the outbreak of the Redfern riots. This can be the inciting incident where he has to chose between helping his family, who are caught up in the riots, or going for the part he so desperately wants. Re-write this with that structure and you might have a pretty solid logline.
[box] “A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
Steven: “A seriously muddled effort here. Too many strands that are not tightly connected together. For example, that the mother’s husband died violently is good, but that the kid thinks he sees monsters is lame. Assuming that this is supposed to be some horror flick the way to set up the atmosphere here would be along the lines of “a mother, alone with her son, must cope with an evil that seeps out of the house they are staying in. Her husband was struck down savagely years ago. Now her boy swears he sees a monster ”
Too many strands that are not tightly connected together.
James: “I can see what the writer has tried to do here. S/he has tried to create an atmosphere based on her husband’s death and her son’s fear. However the writer has failed to link the two. Instead it should be mentioned that the monster her son fears is actually real, this is the sinister presence. Even better if the husband dies of mysterious circumstances in the house. Now she needs a goal (to stop the monster or something like that) and some stakes (before her son is killed perhaps like his father?) This would help give the logline some structure and the protagonist some purpose. ”
She needs a goal…and some stakes
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.