As an emerging content creator, filmmaker or screenwriter with limited contacts in the entertainment industry, Real Big Hits is a portal for you to gain exposure to network or studio executives as well as independent production companies, to buy or fund your work (script, logline, videos).
Real Big Hits (or RBH) works as a live pitch, only everything happens virtually. There’s one specific goal- to match you with the right buyer. But to ensure your project sees the light of day, you need to include a logline that will titillate those buyers and have them begging for more. A good logline is crucial to selling your ideas; in a spec, in a pitch, in the 30 second window you have with an executive when you accidentally meet on the Great Wall of China.
The difference between a logline, synopsis and a tagline
A logline is a one-sentence outline of your film using only 35-45 words. It must be only one complete sentence. Any longer and it becomes a synopsis. Any shorter and it becomes a tagline.
** If you can’t make the logline work, it’s probably because the story in your script doesn’t work. We suggest writing a logline for your idea before embarking on the script.
Thanks to the experts at Raindance, ScreenCraft and Movie Outline we’ve assembled a list that will help you write a killer logline.
1. A logline must have:
- The main character
- Their goal
- The antagonist/antagonistic force
- The stakes (optional)
2. Don’t use a character name
It has no intrinsic information and so is a useless word. Instead, tell us something about the character.
- A police chief
- An ex-superhero
3. Use an adjective to enrich your main character
This is your chance to show some character. Beware of cliche, and also of the power of irony. Preferably, the characteristic you describe will have something to do with the plot.
- A mute police chief
- An alcoholic ex-superhero
4. Present the protagonist’s main goal
This is what drives your story and it will drive your logline too. Make sure that the goal is present early in the script – if you don’t make good on your logline’s promise early enough the rest of the script won’t get read.
A mute sous-chef wants to win the position of Head Chef at her boss’ new restaurant
An alcoholic ex-superhero searches for his daughter
5. Describe the struggle
The verb you choose to depict the struggle must be visual and active. After all this is a movie, not a play or a novel. Thus, the log line verb should be one of the following, or one like them that best suits the genre:
Struggle, battle, contends, wrestles, grapples, scuffles, fights, wages war, jousts, duels, spars, scraps, opposes, takes on, clashes, quarrels, feuds, or crusades.
6. Describe the Antagonist
The antagonist should be described in a similar, but preferably shorter, manner than the hero. If the hero faces a more general antagonistic force then make it clear that they are battling something, not just life’s bumps and buffets.
A mute sous-chef wants must fight off an ambitious rival to win the position of Head Chef at her boss’s new restaurant.
An alcoholic ex-superhero searches for his daughter after she is kidnapped by his dementing, jealous former sidekick.
7. Make sure your protagonist is pro-active
He or she should drive the story and do so vigorously. A good logline will show the action of the story, the narrative momentum that carries you through the script. In some cases the protagonist will be reactive, but note, this is not the same as passive.
8. If you can, include stakes and/or a ticking time-bomb
These are very useful narrative devices that add urgency to your script. If they fit in easily, include them in your logline.
To save his reputation a secretly gay frat-boy must sleep with 15 women by the end-of-semester party.
Some scripts operate in a world with different rules to our own and require a brief setup to explain them, e.g. most science-fiction stories. Others have a protagonist whose personal or psychological history is crucial to the story and needs to be explained. Again, be brief.
- In a world where all children are grown in vats…
- Driven to a mental breakdown by an accident at work, an aquarium manager…
10. Enhance the story’s marketability by suggesting the movie’s:
- Visual Style
- Ironic hook
- Emotional context
- Heartfelt passion, and
- Visceral action.
11. About the ending
Do not reveal the script’s supercool twist ending. The story, and thus the logline, should be good enough to hold up by itself; a surprise ending should be a lovely bonus found when reading the script. This all changes when you get to writing your treatment.
12. Don’t tell the story, sell the story
Create a desire to see the script as well as telling them what’s in it. Loglines are like poetry, every word counts. Tinker, test, and tinker some more.
Work on your logline as hard as you would on the script and film. All you need is one sentence, compelling enough to draw the attention of a buyer.
Good luck, and feel free to submit samples in the comments box or email personally to Real Big Hits.