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Logline it! – Week 6

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 34th Battalion

[box] “Australia. 1916. After the death toll at Gallipoli, a group of friends are forced to choose between their lives at home or the call of duty in France. They soon find themselves in some of the worst battles the world had ever seen.”[/box]

The judges’ verdict:


Karel: My question: what makes this movie different from every other war movie? What is interesting about the characters? If there is no central character – God help me, I cannot remember a local film that managed this satisfactorily since Lantana – then why does it need to be a group? Will their friendship be torn apart? And what value(s) or theme(s) are at stake?.”

 What makes this movie different from every other war movie

James: “The inciting incident (the death toll) isn’t an event and therefore can’t be measured or drawn out on a page. This is the first mistake. The logline attempts to create some drama “a group of friends must chose…” but then the logline goes on to tell us what their decision is by stating that they fight in battles. There is no need to add this extra bit of information. It would be better to outline who the main character is and what his goal is (maybe he has to survive and make it home for some reason?) At the moment the goal is too short term, they’re intent on fighting in the war. There needs to be a long term goal to keep the audience interested for when they do ship off to war (as we know they do). ”

 

Untitled Project

[box] “A dark comedy about racism set during the Cronulla riots”[/box]

The judges’ verdict:


Geno: “As a logline, it’s missing most of the elements, except of course, the genre, which was clearly stated (unnecessarily so). No sense of protagonist, antagonist, goal, obstacles, stakes, etc. Basically, just a TV guide entry The writer needs to learn the basics of a logline, and the Australian Film Project board, or whomever is funding this stuff, needs to improve their standards a bit. If the logline is this bad, I cannot imagine what the script is like..”

As a logline, it’s missing most of the elements

James: “I could sit here and drum out a list of all the things that this logline is missing. No main character, no goal, no inciting incident etc. Giving your story a setting isn’t enough to create interest in the script. We know enough about the Cronulla riots to be aware that this will clearly be about racism. There’s no need to put that in. I’d rather know whose point of view this event is from. Is it someone involved in the riots or simply an on-looker who becomes affected some way. These are questions that need to be answered in the logline before a script is even attempted.  ”

 No main character, no goal, no inciting incident.

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)


About the Author

James Michael

Comments 4

  1. I wish you gave an example of a good logline as well as a bad one in here to see the difference. These loglines to me are obviously not fleshed out enough yet. Especially the last one. I feel like the writer was lazy in not learning how to write a logline.

    1. I agree with you Ian. For lots of examples of loglines, check out http://logline.it.
      You’ll find failed examples but often you’ll see how the writers improve them, following the comments of the readers.

  2. These are not log lines, nor are they intended to be. They come from the Screen Australia website, when they announce which projects they are funding for development.

    Where is the educational value is criticising something for not being what it was never intended to be? It’s like criticising this comment on the basis that it’s not a haiku poem

    1. “These are not log lines nor are they intended to be.”
      They often aren’t but I have every reason to believe they were taken from the submission documents, where applicants were asked to provide a “one sentence synopsis”. So they were intended to be loglines.
      One might question the purpose of putting this stuff online (over at the SA web site) if they are NOT loglines. As information to the general public, what we see here in my view doesn’t work. As a matter of accountability it doesn’t work either. If they were proper loglines, it would at least serve a purpose: to inform the tax payer of the stories their money is invested in.

      The educational value is in showing exactly why these blurbs are not serving any purpose and how this can be remedied. This is what we do here and what we do over at http://logline.it. I am just as cynical as you about the general quality of concepts and the lack of effort and skills but nothing is going to change if nobody does anything about it. I know my efforts aren’t going to change the world overnight but I’m doing something.

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