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The Judges: Week 11

In 2011, each week 10 judges will review two short synopses from films that are currently in development.

The objective is to all (that includes us judges) learn from the exercise.

Please comment on our comments!

Creative Commons License photo credit: swanksalot

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.

MONKEY


“Based on the ancient Chinese text,
Monkey must travel across the entire known world
with Tripitaka, a young priest,
to bring Buddha’s Word back to man
and save the world.”

The judges’ votes:


Do you want to see this film?

Yes: 20% – No: 40% – Not sure: 40%

Would Australians want to see it?

Yes: 20% – No: 10% – Not sure: 70%

Would it work in rest of the world?

Yes: 10% – No: 20% – Not sure: 70%

The judges’ verdict:


Kim: While it seems this logline was intended to capture the tone of the ancient Chinese text, it’s ultimately too vague to arouse much interest. In particular, the last phrase, “to bring Buddha’s Word back to man and save the world,” is the driving force of this journey and it gives no clues as to what is concretely at stake. More clarity in that part of the logline could improve it greatly.

it’s ultimately too vague to arouse much interest.

Margaret: What kind of obstacles does he face along the way? Is there an antagonist or opposing force? I can see this being an epic journey, but there has to be more to it than just the actual trip itself.

What was the event that motivated these two characters to embark on their journey?

Nina: What was the event that motivated these two characters to embark on their journey? When we know the answer to this question, we better understand the goal and its importance for the Hero(es). Also, the main characters have no clear internal or external obstacles to overcome and this puts any synopsis at a great disadvantage. It is these perilous predicaments that make stories interesting; team this with a memorable hero who has a clear goal and we create anticipation just from the synopsis alone.


A MONTH OF SUNDAY


“Flemington real estate agent, Frank Mollard, finds his life greatly improves after receiving an unexpected telephone call from his recently deceased mother.”

The judges’ votes:


Do you want to see this film?

Yes: 40% – No:  20% – Not sure:  40%

Would Australians want to see it?

Yes: 10% – No:  10% – Not sure:  80%

Would it work in rest of the world?

Yes:  0% – No:  30% – Not sure:  70%

The judges’ verdict:


Ursula: I like the supernatural angle. I also like that it plays with the notion that people die without having told their loved ones the truth until it’s too late. Frank has another chance. I think the synopsis could have more punch. Don’t give too much away “finds his life greatly improves” is a bit weak. Perhaps something more about how his life goes in complete turnaround, when he gets that call.

The synopsis should have begun with describing HOW greatly Frank’s life is due to change.

Steven: The synopsis should have begun with describing HOW greatly Frank’s life is due to change. For example, “Frank, a hard-working but dismally unsuccessful real estate agent, discovers the secret to a killer sales pitch that will rake in millions at last.” Only after telling us that much do you mention the bits about the call, and his mother. For example, “It’s all thanks to one phone call in the dead of night. A call from his dead mother!”.

Great inciting incident. Then what?

Karel: Great inciting incident. Then what? All we are to expect to see about Frank in this movie is “his life greatly improves”. So what does he do to achieve this? This logline lacks a story.



The Judges (click for details)



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?

Please give us your opinion in the comments at the bottom of this page.


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About the Author

Adrian Kok

Comments 1

  1. Guys, please don’t think you’re being ignored. I really enjoy reading these comments, you seem to nail them pretty well each time. I just don’t have anything to add for now.

    Well, apart from the usual: I can write a better logline than that! I’m sure you’d be disappointed if a budding screenwriter didn’t believe s/he could :)

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