Only six days until we start writing a screenplay and I know a lot of you want to kill me for not getting back to you on your loglines yet. The reason it’s taking so long is because 7 out of every 10 e-mails results in me giving all five loglines a 3-rating or lower and I feel like if I only leave the writer with numbers and no explanation they’ll hate me with every fiber of their being. So I always try to add a little comment here or there. “This is too familiar.” That’s what’s taking so long. I’ll continue to go through them as fast as I can, but maybe I just need to skip the comments and do ratings only, even if it drives some of you to build Scriptshadow VooDoo dolls to stick pins into.
Today, to help you get a little better understanding of what’s going on in my head, I’m going to share some of the loglines that were sent in, the ratings I gave them, and the reason for those rating. Hopefully this helps, especially if I’m not able to get to your loglines before next Thursday.
Title: The Angel of the North
Genre: Black Comedy
Logline: A gambling addicted PI loses the ransom on his way to a kidnap exchange and now must get the victim back without any money.
My rating: 4
My thoughts: This logline is messy. “A gambling addicted PI” is an inelegant phrasing that already has me worried, and we haven’t even gotten to the second half of the logline yet. The “ransom” is then brought up before I know what the ransom is referring to. Not a huge deal, but it required me to read the logline twice to make sure I understood everything, which is never a good thing. And then the final phrase kind of limps onto the page. “…get the victim back without any money.” I feel like there’s a more powerful way to say this. I like the elements involved but nothing here feels that original, and with the clunky presentation, I couldn’t give this more than a 4. Still, a “4” is better than most loglines got!
Title: Medium Rage
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Logline: When a young medium gains popularity by channeling hilarious crude jokes from a deceased comedian, a virtuous young woman decides to out the arrogant psychic as a fraud, since the comedian’s routines were always secretly written by her.
My rating: 2
My thoughts: It took me three full reads to understand this logline, and even then, I’m not 100% sure I got it. This seems to be a classic case of “too wordy.” But even then, the story seems to go on one beat too far. The young random whistle-blower was also secretly writing jokes for the person who is now being stolen from by the medium-turned-comedian? That’s way too complicated. Remember one of the key pieces of advice I told you yesterday, guys. Keep it simple!
Logline: On her way home from college, a free-spirited student disappears into thin air. When she reappears 5 years later having not aged a single day, she must not only attempt to reintegrate into her life, but also avoid the rogue scientists responsible for her disappearance in the first place.
My rating: 5
My thoughts: This logline has some marketable elements to it. People who reappear five years after a disappearence can lead to a good story. The reason it only got a 5, though, is because a) there was an entire flurry of “reappear after ‘x’ years” TV series that hit the marketplace recently. And b) the term “rogue scientists” killed the logline’s earlier momentum. Not only did it come out of nowhere, but the adjective “rogue” seemed to be apropos of nothing, always a red flag in my experience. All adjectives should be relevant to the rest of the logline.
Logline: With the overbearing sheriff taken ill and a raging wildfire closing in, deputy Wylde vows to step up and protect the townsfolks’ homes from a gang of looters.
My rating: 6
My thoughts: It may not have received the coveted “7” rating, but Wyldefire has some good things going for it. It’s a simple easy-to-grasp concept and one I can totally imagine the movie for. The key conflict driving the movie – looters taking advantage of a wildfire to steal from innocent people – is interesting. I don’t know why we have another random adjective describing a character (the sheriff), though, when he appears to be a non-factor in the story. Then we have our hero, Deputy Wylde, who doesn’t get an adjective at all. But hey, the rest of the elements keep this idea strong. It’s no home run, but I didn’t give out a whole lot of 6s.
Title: The Extra Mile
Logline: Stuck at the US Customs in Mexico for a technicality, an amateur marathon runner decides to cross the border illegally through the Sonoran desert in order to deliver a rare antivenom for his dying son.
My rating: 2
My thoughts: This one is rough. The beginning of the logline indicates our character is being held somewhere. This is followed by that same character running across a desert. How can he run across a desert if he’s being held somewhere? I see no point in mentioning that the runner is an amateur. Every word you add has the potential to gum up your logline. So get rid of anything that can be gotten rid of. The climax of a dying son who needs a rare antivenon (did he get bit? if so, when? I didn’t see it) not only comes out of nowhere, and feels forced, but seems like it belongs in a different movie. This is a classic case of too many disparate elements in the same logline. There’s too much going on here in general. Keep it simple, guys!