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
Banjo and Matilda[box]
“1895 in Central Queensland and, with the country in turmoil, a young city poet and journalist travels to a remote sheep station to track down a political agitator. When the clashes between union shearers and landowners turn to violence, a man is found dead in a billabong. Was it suicide or murder?”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
Steven: ” The elements that are viable here are: Two soft-handed, white-collar, city slickers being drawn into investigating a mysterious death in the bush. Overlay this with mounting tensions and violence between opposed vested interests. To lessen the triteness factor, make these opposed interests more interesting than shearers and landowners. For example, locals who have been in the town for generations versus newcomer miners, prospectors, or railroad men. The logline is boringly stereotypical as it is. But if the key elements, just mentioned, were described more interestingly, this story could work.”
To lessen the triteness factor, make these opposed interests more interesting
than shearers and landowners.
Patrockable: ” There are two interesting story ideas here: tracking down a political agitator, and solving a murder mystery. Which the main story? I’d focus on describing only the main one. Also, who’s the main character, the poet or the journalist? What is his strength, and flaw? Why is tracking down an agitator or solving the murder mystery important to him? Including this will make the reader care more about the outcome.
Who’s the main character, the poet or the journalist?
What is his strength, and flaw?
Geno: “I like the logline, and the only flaw I see is that it is too wordy. I’m not a big fan of two sentence loglines, but I think this could work if it can’t be trimmed to one. One issue is asking if it was murder or suicide. You’ve given evidence of sorts to possible murder, but no reason to indicate suicide.”
“After a road accident on the highway, a young man finds himself trapped in a strange, remote town where nothing – and no one – is as it seems”[/box]
The judges’ verdict:
Patrockable: “Avoid vague phrases like “where nothing – and no one – is as it seems”, and instead tell us more about who the main character is, his strength and flaw, what the threat in the town is, and what he must do to overcome it. If these are unique enough, you’ll get interest.”
Avoid vague phrases like “where nothing – and no one – is as it seems
Steven: “Strange things? For example? The logline fails to give us an atmosphere of the supposedly mysterious town. Is it full of zoombies? One Nation voters? Is there a ‘Priscilla’ re-enactment society? Is it an outback “Village of Dibley”? Or what? Saying that “nothing is as it seems” is so hackneyed … We’ve seen that in zillions of movie posters. Tell the reader what makes this story DISTINCTIVE, not boringly generic.”
The logline fails to give us an atmosphere of
the supposedly mysterious town.
James: “The logline starts off perfectly, the inciting incident is outlined and the main character is given. However this is where it falls flat. Once the location is stated we must be told what its purpose is. Is the town the antagonist of the story or is there a member in the town who fills this role. Further we need to know what the main goal or conflict will be. Whether the town is stopping him from leaving or killing off people and he has to stop it. Basically the main character needs an action.”
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.