Monday, January 16, 2012

The Importance of a Logline

Well, screenwriting is a no-go. The first day of class two people didn't show up, and I was first on the wait-list, so it looked really good for me. Unfortunately, those two were just sick for the first day of class. Oh well.

The feedback from my classmates would be nice, but there's no reason why I can't still write this screenplay this semester. In fact, that is exactly what I plan to do, roughly following the syllabus of the class. Thus far, a logline has been due, and coming up soon is the treatment, script breakdown, and step outline. In the meanwhile, I've read one of the textbooks for class, as well as the Little Miss Sunshine shooting script. I'm about a good 60-70 pages into the final book.

I've also already written up a step outline for the script that I'm really happy with. In it, I've broken down scene-by-scene (or almost scene-by-scene) the events of the script, separating the events in the three acts. I've also written a logline, which I'm kind of afraid to share so for now I won't.

But at the first screenwriting class, we discussed what makes a good logline, and came up with a couple things:

1. It is ironic - As in, the main character has to accomplish a goal, and he's the last person you would think of to accomplish it. As an example, in Star Wars Luke is just a farm boy who over the course of the movie must destroy the Death Star.

2. It should be primal - This means that it should appeal to a human universal, something that everyone can relate to on a basic, primal level.

3. There is a compelling mental image - When you hear the logline, can you picture the story and characters in your head? Can you get a sense of what the movie is about?

The basic logline structure is this:

"A (protagonist) who must (act) in order to (reach a goal)." In the parentheses you would put the specifics of your story.

Another option could be: "A (protagonist) who must (reach a goal) in order to (fulfill a need)."

The MUST in these are very important, because there needs to be something at stake for the audience to be interested. If these is no real need, the story will not be compelling enough.

A logline is really important for a number of reasons. First of all, if you ever want your movie to be made you need to be able to sell someone on your idea. You have to get someone interested, and a logline is a great way to do that quickly. Most executives or potential investors don't have time to sit around and listen to an hour long pitch, so they want to hear the concept. If the concept is good enough, there is usually a story there. From that standpoint, a logline is a good place to start. It's also a good building-block for your script, because the logline cuts right to the point of the script. If at any point during the writing of your script you feel as though you're getting away from the point you were trying to make, the logline is a good way of getting you back on track.

In a future post I'll discuss other things I've been doing to prepare to start writing the script. There's plenty more planning to be done, but I hope to start writing the actual script itself in 1-2 weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Hey if you ever want feedback or help with this, I'd be happy to read what you have so far. Definitely would like to help out if it gets to production.