Writing Loglines

A logline is one of the most important things a filmmaker or screenwriter needs to create during pre-production of their film in order to get it made by a production company. What is a logline? If you’ve ever looked at a movie poster you’ve probably seen a logline. It is essentially that one or two line phrase slapped onto the poster to make it enticing to watch. These movie poster loglines are technically called taglines, not loglines, because they are in fact different, but they serve essentially the same purpose: sum up an entire movie in one to two sentences.

The main difference is that a logline needs to be able to persuade a bunch of producers to spend a ridiculous amount of money to make it; whereas, a tagline just needs to be persuasive enough to get people to watch it (and the poster art is more persuasive than anything written in the tagline), but for the aspiring screenwriter or filmmaker the logline is extremely important, and it is also very difficult to write.

It may only be one to two sentences long, but in those one to two sentences you have to condense your entire story into a bite size chunk without losing anything in the process. This can especially be difficult when your screenplay is complex and has subplots.

Stick to the basic elements of your story. What are the themes you are exploring? What is the major plot-line you have written? In general, what is your film about? Create a list of things and then begin to formulate your logline. Traditionally, loglines are one sentence, but you can get away with two, but make sure the sentences aren’t super long either. It has to be short and concise. Odds are, you’ll have to write several before deciding on the right one.

A couple things to keep in mind when writing a logline: the first, don’t give too much away in your logline. The idea is to give an enticing hook into what the story is about, but not to spoil it. Leave the producers (or whoever is reading your logline) wanting more. Second, don’t be generic. What I mean is, don’t write something like, “Jurassic Park meets Rear Window set in 2022, and chaos ensues”. Sometimes, it can be good to mention films your film is like, but you have to be careful. On the one hand, mentioning films in your logline will let the producers know if your script is marketable, but it could also show them it isn’t anything special. Choose wisely.

The idea behind a logline is to get people to help make your film, so it is crucial to take your time. A sloppy logline could be the difference between your film getting made or your film being filed away.

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