The ability to boil down a story to it’s minimum is at the heart of crafting a logline. It’s filmmaking 101. What’s a logline? It’s the sentence(s) you read in the TV guide excerpt, or on the movie poster or in the reviews. But what’s interesting is that this exercise in concise articulation is very powerful. It can be applied to every project you work on regardless of industry.
When I was working as an MTV VJ, I realized early on that just reading the teleprompter made for stilted, boring and ridiculous presentation. I started scanning the script beforehand, boiling it down to the 3 or 4 essential points I needed to make, and then paraphrase the script. It made for much more relaxed, natural conversation. Over drinks with my friend and persuasive communications presentation coach, Dan Broden, we discussed how this was one of the secrets he teaches to Fortune 500 CEOs and superstar athletes. Basically, it’s boiling down your presentation to its essentials, being prepared. It’s kind of like having a logline for what you are discussing.
President Obama does this very well. Filmmakers, though they have less at stake (some would say arguably) must perfect this skill to be able to pitch their project successfully. As do lawyers, sales people, even parents. And when direcing your film and discussing it with cast, and crew including editors, composers and art directors, you need to be able to clearly define what is happening from the big picture to scene by scene moments.
“A ________must_________in order to ____________.”
Fill in those blanks and you can see how concise, clear and articulate you become. And if you speak it like the movie voiceover guy, then you’re sure to have a blockbuster. 🙂
A logline conveys the dramatic story of a screenplay in the most abbreviated manner possible. It presents the major throughline of the dramatic narrative without character intricacies and sub-plots. It is the story boiled down to its base. A good logline is one sentence. More complicated screenplays may need a two sentence logline.
Crafting a logline takes a great deal of practice and an understanding of basic dramatic structure.
At a minimum, a Logline must tell:
- who the story is about
- what he strives for.
- what stands in his way.
A logline does not tell the whole story. Using these three story elements, a good logline depicts the dramatic narrative in a clear fashion.
– Andrew Ingkavet is Head Monk, Executive Producer and Composer for 300 Monks, an audio agency providing custom music scores, music supervision and music licensing to film studios, ad agencies and independent producers.