MY SCREENPLAY: Writing the Beast, Part 3

Tell me your movie in one sentence.

writing a screenplay, Walking for Little Fish, Stephanie DelTorchio

In the movie business it’s called a “logline” or think of it as the TV Guide description. When you are looking for a movie to watch you want to know: What’s it about? It might be described as a war movie, or a romantic-comedy, or a coming of age story followed by a few descriptive words that give an overall view of what you should expect as you plop down with your bucket of popcorn.

Trying to condense an entire 110 page screenplay into one line is a craft all in itself. So much to say, so few words.

Not only do I need to tell the listener the genre (drama, comedy, thriller, war, etc.) but there must be a hook that makes the listener think, hey that might be worth the price of a movie ticket.

Here are the LOGLINES FROM FAMOUS MOVIES. Can you identify them? (Answers at the end)

  1. A 17th Century tale of adventure on the Caribbean Sea where the roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow joins forces with a young blacksmith in a gallant attempt to rescue the Governor of England’s daughter and reclaim his ship.

  2. A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.

  3. A man who is bitten by a genetically-altered spider, and soon discovers that he has unusual powers and the strength and agility of a spider.

  4. An Epic tale of a 1940s New York Mafia family and their struggle to protect their empire, as the leadership switches from the father to his youngest son.

  5. A police chief, with a phobia for open water, battles a gigantic shark with an appetite for swimmers and boat captains, in spite of a greedy town council who demands that the beach stay open.

  6. A lawyer who loses his ability to lie for 24-hours, clashes with his ex-wife for the affection of their son and the healing of their family.

Loglines are typically one sentence but should be no more than three. I’ve written my logline out, no kidding, at least 100 times. It’s never quite right. A professional script reader who read my script provided one of the loglines below.

  1. A faltering porn promoter risks everything to honor a forgotten childhood promise only to learn he must enter a sporting contest where the winner controls the fate of his hometown.

  2. A man returns to his hometown after his friend dies and fights to save the struggling community.

  3. A faltering porn promoter risks losing his only client to return home for a friend’s funeral and uncovers their childhood pact to be the guardian of his friend’s simpleton brother, the town’s secret landowner. The promoter battles the other landowner to gain the simpleton’s confidence and honor the pact. When the simpleton can’t decide which man to choose the men enter a sport challenge where the winner controls the fate of their hometown.

  4. A drama about a man who returns home to honor a childhood promise only to learn he must fight to save his hometown.

Curious to get your feedback on which (if any) Logline makes you say “Hey I want to see that movie”. Thanks.

Answers: 1.Pirates of the Caribbean, 2. Titanic, 3. Spiderman, 4. The Godfather, 5. JAWS, 6. Liar, Liar.

One Thought on “Creating the Logline: It’s about a man who…

  1. Ninfa on 05/30/2014 at 10:41 PM said:

    #4 perks my interest

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