Loglines for short films

Whether you are shooting a feature film or a short film, coming up with a captivating logline is a must especially if your want to grab attention or get producers to want to work with you. Even though the landscape of the filmmaking industry has changed over the years elements of cinema such as a logline are still as relevant as they were in the past.

Back in the old days, when producing and distributing your own film was unheard of; a film script writer had to impress top Hollywood producers and film directors just to get a foot in the door. Basically the screen writers would include a short a sentence on the spine of the screenplay explaining what the script is all about. By doing this, the screen writers had a better shot of having their screenplays capture the interest of the producer since the producers would only read through the loglines to know what screenplay is worth their attention.

What is a logline in film?

This single line of a summary sentence explaining the entire script came to be known as the Logline. Basically the logline of a screenplay is a three, two or one sentence summary of the entire script. Although loglines nowadays are not necessarily printed on the screen play as it was the case in the past, they are still effective in film as they have the potential to attract an audience that includes readers and potential producers and film directors who will be interested in your film.

What makes a good logline?

Truth be told, condensing tens of pages from a movie script into a logline is no easy task. In fact, coming up with a sentence that captures the entire premise of the film (while giving readers an emotional insight into the movie) is an art by itself.  Most scriptwriters are known to spend a lot of time crafting the strongest logline for their film and the reason is simple; the best loglines can capture the attention of top producers and open big doors for your short film giving you a capacity to leapfrog much of the competition in your filmmaking career and advance much faster.

So what does a really good logline entail?

Well, basically a logline that gets the attention of producers and film directors has to introduce the characters, state the objective and the conflict of the protagonist in the film and finally give a resolution. Once again remember that all this has to be embodied in a sentence or two without being too wordy or spoiling the ending of the movie. A good logline will not tell the story but rather sell the story by wetting the appetite of the audience and the producers or investors.

A high concept logline

With the ever increasing competion among screen writers, producers and film directors have been forced to only accept the best. The term “High concept” is what has been used in Hollywood to mostly describe an idea or story that is easy to pitch thanks to its uniqueness that makes it a great story for a hit movie. When used in consideration to loglines, it simply means a logline that presents a grabber idea that is so cool and interesting producers can’t wait but turn your screenplay into a blockbuster.

Basically when a high concept idea is included in a logline, you wont need to be wordy to convice someone to read through the script or watch the actual film.  Here are a couple of good examples that are considered high concept story ideas that made great loglines for film.

1. Grade school kid finds magic tennis shoes that allow him to play basketball like Michael Jordan... joins the pros! (From the movie “Like Mike”)

2.”A Family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.” (From the movie “a quiet place”)

3.”A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family's future”(From the series “Breaking Bad”)

How to come up with a high concept logline

So now that you know what a logline is and how a high concept logline can spark interest in your movie idea and possibly lead to your short film getting produced, let’s take a look at some formulas that can help you come up with a logline fast and easy.

The truth however is that, as a screenplay writer it’s easy to get caught up with wordiness as you are obviously attached to certain aspects of the story and are having a hard time leaving out certain elements of the story when coming up with a logline. The good news is that you don’t have to stay stuck; there are a variety of formulas that you can be used to effectively condense your entire story idea into a logline that has enough sizzle and pop to attack readers into reading your short film logline.

Here what i use when coming up with loglines.  This concept was developed by Noam Kroll (an award winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles). According to  Kroll, an easy way around it is to first Think about “the who what when and how” as this sill keep you focused on the most important elements of the story -  by applying this principle you will be able to quickly answer the readers most important question in a simplified manner

  • . Start by indentifying the “Who”( also your main protagonist)
  • Then pinpoint the main objective of the protagonist
  • Illustrate the obstacle  or the antagonist that is in conflict with the protagonist

With this formula you can apply the simple basic structure of a logline and realize that it involves an inciting incident that triggers the protagonist to go after a specified objective or else face the stakes that come with being unable to achieve the said goal.

Kroll further breaks it down to this;

“When [INCITING INCIDENT OCCURS], a [SPECIFIC PROTAGONIST] must [OBJECTIVE], or else [STAKES].”

  • Updated a couple of months ago