One day in April, 2011, Kate Chaplin and Veronica Diaz from Karmic Courage Productions sat down to discuss screenwriting.
This episode is all about loglines. Loglines are 2-3 sentences that describe a script/book/play. Chaplin and Diaz breakdown loglines to three basic elements and give tips and examples to help writers gain more interest in their material because they have a strong logline.
Tips Mentioned In This Episode:
- Loglines are the lifeline to your material. It’s what an agent is going to read first. It’s what will entice a producer/director/actor and ultimately it’s what will get people to come see your movie in the theater
- Loglines are a taste of your material so that an audience can know if it’s their cup of tea. Movies are not one size fits all
- Write your logline before you write the script
- Test out your logline to friends, family and trusted colleagues
- Write 10 loglines per script
- Allude to as much conflict as possible in your logline
- Conflict is the choice between two very bad decisions
- Allow the audience to think, “I don’t know if the character can solve that problem”
- The more “fish out of water” the character is to the problem, the more conflict and interesting
- Don’t use character names in your logline, use a strong adjective and a profession
- If you don’t feel your logline is working ask yourself: is the character too flat, too ordinary? Is the character too equip to handle the problem? Is the problem too easy to solve?
The Logline Breakdown
- Who is your hero?
- What is his/her problem?
- How are they going to solve it?
Example #1 – A high school boy is given a chance to write for Rolling Stone about an up-and-coming band as he accompanies them on tour. – Almost Famous (2000)
- Who is your hero — A high school boy
- What is his problem — he’s given a chance to write for Rolling Stone
- How is he going to solve it — accompanies the band on tour
Example #2 – A high-powered surgeon wrongfully accused of murdering his wife, sets out to find the real killer, the one-armed man. – The Fugitive (1993)
- Who is your hero — A high-powered surgeon
- What is his problem — he’s wrongfully accused of murdering his wife
- How is he going to solve it — he’s going to go after the real killer, the one-armed man
Example #3 – After his son’s birthday wish, a shyster lawyer can’t tell a lie for 24 hours – Liar, Liar (1997)
- Who is your hero –A shyster lawyer
- What is his problem – he can’t tell a lie
- How is he going to solve it — intriguing enough to leave open
Example #4 – The aging patriarch of an organized crime family transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son – The Godfather (1972)
- Who is your hero — and aging patriarch of an organized crime family
- What is his problem – he need to transfer control
- How is he going to solve it – turns over the reigns to his reluctant son
Links Mentioned in This Episode:
- Tv Guide – What used to be the best place to read multiple loglines, now there are more sites for great research on loglines
- IMDB – Internet Movie Database, a great resource for movie loglines past, present and upcoming
- Fandango – A listing of what is currently in theaters, with of course, their loglines
- Netflix – Wondering what do watch tonight? Read some loglines on Netflix and see what does and doesn’t get your interest
Helpful Books Related to This Episode:
- Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever need (Amazon Link)
- Writers’ Digest Guide to Query Letters (Amazon Link)
- 2010 Screenplay and Playwrights Market (Amazon Link)