It can not be understated the importance of a great logline. Keep in mind, even the best or rather simplest written loglines can still fall short conveying how creative the film will ultimately express itself. That’s not the logline’s job though, so put that aside.
The logline is about instant understanding.
So, what is the movie about? I initially have trouble boiling this down, so don’t feel bad if you do too. But boil, we must.
Get some scratch paper and a writing instrument. I say writing instrument because I don’t know who you are; Maybe you’re someone’s mom and the closest thing in reach is a soggy sugar cookie. Or maybe you’re backpacking Europe and are jotting your ideas down with eyeliner. I used to run out of paper and write ideas on disassembled Tri-X film boxes.
My screenwriting philosophy is individual-focused and anti-formula. This is what worked for me, and it might for you. Read the list of 29 and as soon as you get a feeling, write something down. Anything. While anything can lead to something, nothing can’t lead to anything. So don’t judge what you write. Look away, come back. You’ll likely find you have something better to work with than you previously thought.
Your logline makes the 30th, if it doesn’t read as good as the rest, keep working on it until it does.
Let me know how it goes: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com
The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.
The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.
A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.
Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.
Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.
A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid’s point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
A small time boxer gets a once in a lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.
Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.
With a dead body laying between them, two men wake up in the secure lair of a serial killer who’s been nicknamed “Jigsaw”. The men must follow various rules and objectives if they wish to survive and win the deadly game set for them.
With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
A day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof.
A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.
THE FULL MONTY
Six unemployed steel workers form a male striptease act. The women cheer them on to go for “the full monty” – total nudity.
THE LION KING
Lion cub and future king Simba searches for his identity. His eagerness to please others and penchant for testing his boundaries sometimes gets him into trouble.
ET: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
A meek and alienated little boy finds a stranded extraterrestrial. He has to find the courage to defy the authorities to help the alien return to its home planet.
Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after becoming infatuated with his daughter’s attractive friend.
A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING
A young Greek woman falls in love with a non-Greek and struggles to get her family to accept him while she comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity.
A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.
A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister, escapes and stalks a bookish teenage girl and her friends while his doctor chases him through the streets.
After a simple jewelry heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.
After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
Three film students go missing after traveling into the woods of Maryland to make a documentary about the local Blair Witch legend leaving only their footage behind.