Writer’s Block – What the F*%K is a Logline anyways?

DISCLAIMER: The following tutorials are made for me more than you. These are neat techniques I have picked up along the road. Articulating them aloud and writing them down is an exercise I use to better my memory; sharing them helps me transfer the data into conversation form; things make more sense when the information is distributed casually. I am not a teacher and I am less credible than a Wikipedia site. Some of this information is regurgitated and bastardized from multiple sources, but who knows…if you’re interested in this kind of thing, maybe this will help you as much as it does me.

After batting around a few loglines to grease up my creative gears for my next project, I realized that I forgot how fun the pre-production process is. Creating things like the logline can be as fun as writing the damn screenplay. The logline was a tool introduced to me by numerous teachers, multiple Syd Field books and finalized with style by a couple Blake Snyder tutorials. The logline is not only a useful utensil, it is also an inspirational challenge…I have ideas, big ideas, fucking gigantic ideas! The logline helps narrow them down, discipline my thoughts and pull sense out of the blubbering volcano I call my imagination.

What the hell is a “logline” anyway?
Have you ever checked out the synopsis of a film from a Critic’s review, IMDb page, or read the back of a DVD cover? Of course you have! By doing so you have most likely read a one- to two-line pitch that wets your palate and provokes you to A) read more and B) hopefully watch the film. This juicy word sandwich is your logline, and it is the most important block you will need to build your script.

The logline is a screenwriter’s road map; It is a one- to two-sentence story that tells us everything about your script without the chuffa and chitter-chatter. If you ever forget what you’re writing or can’t figure out the meat of a scene, you’ll always have your logline to keep you on the right path.

The best loglines have a protagonist, an antagonist (character or personification), a conflict and a question without an answer. The Dunn-Dunnn-Dunnnn moment, the tune in next time, the ironic page turner, the gigantic tip that is our cinematic cock tease. Salt it up by adding sexy adjectives…your character is much more intriguing as an alcoholic school teacher rather than an average substitute.

Logline example:
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice sequence from Fantasia (hijacked from SavetheCat.com):

Tired of carrying buckets of water, an ambitious apprentice uses his boss’s magic hat to bring a broomstick to life, but when the apprentice can’t stop the broomstick, even with an axe, he realizes too much of a good thing can be disastrous when the broom shards reanimate and continue the work initially commanded to do…What’s going to happen? Don’t tell me!

Put these four elements in your logline, stick to the script and start logging.

You can find Henry’s film work at http://henrymccomas.com.