Skip to main content

Ranking Loglines 1-5

Now we're at the part of the show where I look back on the week's loglines, give some thoughts on them, and pick a favorite (that will probably be the source of next week's three-page treatment).

While I'm actually not a huge fan of most of Blake Snyder's writing method, I feel like he does loglines great, so I'm going to be looking at mine in light of his three things a logline must have:

First, irony. A logline should have at least some sense of irony to hook the reader's interest.
Second, a compelling mental picture. The logline alone should put a picture of a movie in your head; you should see the dramatic potential, know all the things that could happen.
Third, a clear audience and cost. This is the trait I want to care least about, but my last few screenplays have all been on the higher side, budget-wise, and while I don't think that's inherently a bad thing, I'd like to at least cultivate an awareness of cost.

Technically, he also lists the fourth rule of a killer title, but I don't generally title my movies until at least after the first draft, so I'm skipping that one.


I know it's a little silly to list all the loglines again here when they're all right below this post, but in the future that might not be the case, so just for consistency's sake, I'm gonna list them all:

Logline 1A high school loser fights friends, family, and her own doubts to prove that her football star brother didn't commit suicide, but was murdered.
Logline 2Immediately after turning on a machine that can receive messages from the future, a young scientist must decide what to do about its message: KILL HOWARD BAILEY.
Logline 3When the firstborn son of the tribe's medicine man displays no connection to the spirits, he's forced to find his place in the tribe through other means.
Logline 4After getting away with murder on a technicality, a young gangster struggles to convince his family, his neighbors, and himself that he's not a bad person.
Logline 5Years after marrying Prince Charming, Cinderella discovers that she owes a favor to her fairy godmother, and must repay it by killing one of her sidhe rivals.

Looking at them in order: logline 1 has a pretty decent mental picture, and clearly will be on the lower-end of budgets, but I'm not 100% certain who the audience is. Is this, like, a high-school movie, or does the darker tone lend itself to more of a Brick-esque, pulp-disguised-as-high-school type of movie? And then there is a little irony in it being the loser who's investigating the suicide of a popular kid, but I don't think that's terribly high quality irony.

Logline 2, I like, I think mostly because it has a very clear mental picture, even while leaving room for oodles of possibilities. There's a pretty strong sense of irony in it, too; this machine that's supposed to enlighten you is instead confusing you. Audience is probably males under 25, but could include over 25. Cost is where it's the most uncertain; is this a low-key sci-fi thriller like Final Cut, or a higher-budget spectacle like Looper?

Yes, I'm aware that that's two Rian Johnson references in two paragraphs.

Logline 3 is too unclear a mental picture, I think, and not terribly ironic, though the potential is there for there to be irony in the actual story. Audience is likely men under 25, cost is actually probably not too high, depending on the scope; if it's just within the one tribe (no big wars or anything) and more on the realistic side of supernatural (so we don't need a lot of CGI), it could be pretty reasonable. Still, probably the weakest of the bunch.

Logline 4's strength is its irony, depending on how you view irony. If you think having 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife is ironic, then I think this one is pretty ironic, too. A murderer who was declared innocent, but isn't, is trying to convince everyone he's a good guy. Even if you don't like Alanis Morissette, I think that's pretty okay. Clear mental picture, audience is probably anyone over 25, with some appeal for under depending on how it's done.

Logline 5 is definitely my favorite, and even if it's not the best (that probably goes to #4, but maybe #2), it's what I'll be writing a treatment for. Again, the irony is this one's strongest suit. We all know Cinderella is supposed to live happily ever after, but now, because of how she got that ending, it's been messed up. The mental picture... I don't know. There are definitely a lot of possibilities for this, which is both good and bad for the mental picture aspect. Audience could very well be four quadrant, cost is probably high (sigh. I'm just made to write big budget, I guess). 

So there you have it. My thoughts on the loglines for the week, and what my first treatment will be. I'll probably post the treatment next Saturday, though I'm not sure if I'll do it as a blog post (may be too long) or a link to a Google doc or what. I'll think of something.