What is a Logline and Why is it Important?
A logline is a one sentence, sometimes (read rarely) two sentence description of your film or television show concept. The importance of a logline is to garner interest in your project and to do it quickly. In essence, it’s your quick pitch to producers, and if you want them to be interested in producing your project you’d better make sure your logline grabs their attention. The intent is to make the producer(s) say, “Tell me more.”
Although loglines for film and TV are very similar in style, the way you create them are a little different. Let’s start with film. Typically, in a perfect world, you want to craft your logline before you even start writing your script or outline. The logline boils down the premise of the story into one sentence. If you can’t come up with a compelling logline, then you don’t have a premise for your script. The premise is the fundamental concept that drives your story.
I’ll give some examples of potential loglines for some hit movies, you see if you can guess the titles. “With no memory of last night’s bachelor party, three friends have less than 48 hours to retrace their steps to find the missing groom-to-be before his wedding.” Make it interesting enough so that a producer will want to know more. How about this one? “After debris from a failed satellite destroys their transportation home, an astronaut crew is forced to drift through space in search of another way back to Earth before their oxygen supply runs out.”
I almost forgot one important detail: try to keep your logline under 40 words. Often times they can be a mouthful so don’t add to it by using too many words. Blake Snyder has a template for creating a film logline, but it’s more of a starter kit. You can use it to get you started, but you’ll need to pare it down to make it more palatable.
As for television show loglines, they are basically the same, only you must convey the premise of the show rather than just one episode. If you are looking to sell your show idea to a producer, boil down the entire show’s premise into one sentence. Again, you should already have an idea of the show’s premise before you even start to outline your pilot episode. The logline will be an important part of your One-Sheet. A One-Sheet is a key piece to your pitch. I’ll discuss it in more detail in a future blog.
Here are some examples of what a television show logline could look like. See if you can figure out the show: “A small town girl moves into an apartment across the hall from two genius but socially inept physicists and shows them how little they know about life outside of the laboratory.” That was an easy one. Try this one: “A best-selling author shadows a New York police detective to use as his muse for a future book series and ends up helping solve crimes via his “out-of-the-box” thinking.” They both describe the overall story arc of the entire show and, I hope, leave you wanting to know more.
It’ll take some time to get the hang of it so don’t give up too quickly. Most writers hate writing loglines, but it’s a key weapon in your arsenal that will help get your script sold. It’s an important craft to learn. So the moral of this story is, “develop your premise before you start writing anything.” It will save you tons of time, blood, sweat, and tears; not to mention it’s key to creating a logline. It’ll also keep you from doing massive rewrites to interject a premise into a script you’ve already written. If you have a story idea, but you haven’t quite nailed down the premise, The Writer online magazine has a great article on how to structure a premise. It’s more for novels, but it will definitely help with your film or TV show concept. Until next week, happy writing.