Two weeks are in between my blank page and 10 pages worth of a screenplay. My idea has been five years in the making, but it is now becoming a reality. The screenwriting class in which I’m enrolled wraps up next month, and I hope to have a good foundation for a script suited for a 30-minute short. According to my instructor and experts, one script page equals one minute of screentime, so 10 pages equal one-third of my dream.
In the middle of filling out index cards with my characters’ traits and constructing a beat sheet (fancy word for a script outline), I’m reading “Save the Cat: The Last Screenwriting Book You’ll Ever Need” by Blake Snyder which is having me rethink how I’m writing. I’ve only gotten through the introduction and the first chapter, and already I’m changing my approach to my writing.
One thing that Snyder writes is to develop a punchy logline, or a pitch, that will attract moviegoers and studios to produce your screenplay before diving into the project. Since I had only gotten to character development and the start of a beat sheet, but I didn’t have a concrete logline. A good logline entices the viewer to leave the house, purchase a movie ticket and buy an overpriced popcorn and soda combo.
Take these recent releases for example with loglines from IMDB:
- “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” – As a war between rival queen sisters Ravenna and Freya escalates, Eric and fellow warrior Sara, members of the Huntsmen army raised to protect Freya, try to conceal their forbidden love as they combat Ravenna’s wicked intentions.
- “Barbershop: The Next Cut” – As their surrounding community has taken a turn for the worse, the crew at Calvin’s Barbershop come together to bring some much needed change to their neighborhood.
- “The Boss” – A titan of industry is sent to prison after she’s caught insider trading. When she emerges ready to rebrand herself as America’s latest sweetheart, not everyone she screwed over is so quick to forgive and forget.
Some of these do a good job at describing the plot without giving it away. “Barbershop” and “The Boss” have the least confusing loglines of the three. The second clearly states that a transformation will happen to the community, and the third is more of a personal journey. “The Huntsman” is a head-scratcher; the plot is a mess with so much being given in a lengthy sentence. Is the audience to already know who these characters are? In one sentence we know there’s a sibling rivalry, a romance and fighting. Unfortunately, the pitch is a miss. If the description isn’t good, imagine what the movie is like. I’ll know shortly when I review it for the newspaper next week.
Back to my logline. Snyder suggests pitching a logline to total strangers instead of friends and family. I’m not that brave, so I decided to share it here. Here is my screenplay’s logline (for now):
An aging restaurateur hires a mousy photographer to investigate his playboy son before putting him in charge of a successful business empire.
Would you go see this movie?