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Feedback needed on my two feature film loglines

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    Posted: 27 Apr 2019 at 5:54pm
Hey guys,
I have two polished feature film scripts (and a third that's on a pretty good draft, but I'm not going to advertise that until it shines) and I want to begin the process of querying managers and producers. I've been rewriting loglines for the scripts, and I just can't land on something I like. Furthermore, I clearly don't have the mindset for it yet, because I read successful loglines, such as the ones used for Jaws, The Godfather, and Little Miss Sunshine, and I don't really like those either. Something about trying to pitch a movie in one or two sentences is just something I need more practice with. Anyway, I was hoping I could give you my two loglines, and you guys could critique, destroy, make fun of, maybe give advice on how to improve on them. I'll provide just the logline (because that's all that will be in my emails) but if you request a short synopsis of the film in order to help me edit the loglines, I'd be happy to provide it. #1: f**k L.A.: An absurd, eclectic drama/comedy exploring the world of pre-9/11 Hollywood culture through the eyes of a diverse set of young friends as they're all unwittingly thrust into stardom. Imagine the era-spanning, character mosaic of Boogie Nights, meeting the teen angst fueled world of Donnie Darko. #2: The Great Unwashed: After a high school teacher's field trip ends in the tragic death of his top three students, his community turns against him, his family struggles by his side, and he falls prey to his inner demons. This familial drama, inspired by true events, is like watching Rose tackle the survivor guilt aftermath of outliving Jack with a suburbia backdrop.  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote jasonquist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2019 at 7:30pm
Honestly, by the end of the logline, these both sound like screenplays I at least want to start reading, which is the whole point. So, overall, good job! I would read both of these scripts (and will if you feel like sharing them with me, but I'd also take a decent synopsis).

But since we're here to pick nits, I think you lean too hard on your own plot and don't give me enough of the sense of genre, comps, and style in the first sentence, which makes the first sentence of both loglines feel a little bit bland and inert. In loglines, it seems like comps and genre (even if they're not perfect) can be really helpful to convey the tone of your story and focus the reader.

More specifically:

#1
- If we're in pre 9/11 times, becoming "unwittingly" famous was extremely unusual, and I think it needs to be either rephrased or clarified.
- Based on your second sentence, I don't think "absurd" is the word you're looking for. Donnie Darko is very, very strange, but it isn't absurd. "Absurd" implies the story is on some level ridiculous or farcical, and that doesn't seem to fit tonally with the rest of your logline.
- Remove both commas from the second sentence, and format your titles in whatever the proper script formatting is for titles (an answer I sadly don't have). The hyphen in 'era-spanning' does the work of the first comma, and the punctuation on the titles will do the work of the second comma.
- Asking the viewer explicitly to imagine other movies seems misguided, and I think it would make more sense to build these comparisons directly into the logline of the story you're trying to tell. I don't think there's anything wrong with referencing other films, but the problem is that your first sentence goes, "Here's the movie!" Then your second sentence goes, "Wait, but, also it's this stuff too!"

#2
- My guess is that the teacher in this is a 'good teacher,' in the sense that it's usually used in America. Goes above and beyond, produces great results, kids love him, etc. I think that should at least be alluded to.
- Obviously I haven't read the script, but I'm not sure that Jack and Rose is the best comparison for this. No one blames Rose for outliving Jack, and his death was a heroic act. If it really is a Jack-Rose situation, you need to make it clear that someone sacrificed themselves for someone else, but if not, then I think a comparison to something like "The Leftovers" is more apt. If a student sacrificed him/herself to save everyone else, then that needs to be your lead thing because that is a great idea!
- Was the field trip controversial? Was the accident his fault? Seems odd that the community would turn against him.
- I'm not sure 'familial drama' is the right way to describe this. The teacher could be single and still have his life fall apart, especially if he's only falling prey to his inner demons.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Puspus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Apr 2019 at 11:54am
These are great, very helpful thoughts. Especially with The Great Unwashed. Some people have helped a little with improving on f**k LA, but I've gotten no good critiques on TGU until now. Thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChristiLB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 2019 at 11:25pm
Hello there - 

I'd love to offer my two cents, although I am just beginning my screenwriting journey and have yet to write loglines and try to pitch to producers. That being said, I did come across a website that offered a logline formula and even showed how the formula was actually evident in some real movie loglines.

According to the website, every logline should be made up above the inciting incident, protagonist, action and antagonist. One example they gave was for Silence of The Lambs - "A young F.B.I. cadet (protagonist) must confide in (action) an incarcerated and manipulative killer (antagonist) to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims. (inciting incident)" So, I guess my first suggestion would be to make sure you have all those elements in your logline.

#1: f**k L.A.: An absurd, eclectic drama/comedy exploring the world of pre-9/11 Hollywood culture through the eyes of a diverse set of young friends as they're all unwittingly thrust into stardom.

Your first logline, to me, doesn't divulge enough info about what's going to happen. I know obviously you don't want to spoil the movie but I feel like I don't really have any sense at all of what I'm about to see (or read). I think maybe be more specific about the "diverse set of young friends." How are they diverse? different ethnicities, different social classes, or different in the sense of goth, punk, preppy, etc.? Also what age are they? High school, college, mid 20s? What is the inciting incident that thrusts them into stardom? I think if you can play around with this a bit more and include some more of those crucial details it'll be great. As it is right now, it's not really drawing me in. Just too vague. Also, one other thing - I'm not entirely sure the title will endear you to the Hollywood types you are hoping will read your script. Wink
#2: The Great Unwashed: After a high school teacher's field trip ends in the tragic death of his top three students, his community turns against him, his family struggles by his side, and he falls prey to his inner demons.

This one grabs my attention much more because you have details and circumstances. I might say that there is perhaps just a hint too much information in this logline actually. The reaction of the community, his family, and his own psyche are all spelled out right there and maybe that could be left as a mystery so to speak. I rephrased it to read - "When a high school teacher survives a tragic field trip accident which claimed the lives of his three star students, his life within the community, and his own family, will never be the same again." It just seems interesting to have a little murkiness about what happens after the deaths. By the way, is this really inspired by true events? How sad if it is. Cry

I agree with the other person that commented on the Jack/Rose analogy. I don't think Rose had survivor's guilt - I don't think she ever once said "it should've been me" or anything like that. In fact he's seen as a hero in her eyes as I'm pretty sure she comments that he saved her in every way a person can be saved. I wouldn't use that movie or those characters in your pitch - Just my opinion though.

I hope some of what I offered is helpful to you but, like I said, I am just starting out myself so I don't have any personal/previous experience to back up my claims. Just a movie fan offering her opinions. Good luck with your pitches. I'm sure at some point I'll be sitting in a movie theater watching one, or both of your films. Smile

Christine
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JeffreyHowe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 May 2019 at 12:51am
In both cases, the second sentence isn't really a log line, IMO. It's that "X meets Y" part of the pitch everyone groans about...but which a lot of people still want to hear. 

As to the log lines proper--in reverse order, because 2 is easier Smile

The second half of the log line should, ideally, posit the challenge the protagonist faces and the stakes if he fails. In its current form the challenge is implied, but not explicit, and you may want to play with that. Something like: "...as the community turns on him and his family struggles to stay supportive, he must find a way to survive the burden of guilt he bears alone." except with the One Thing That's Unique about his pain in place of the generic "burden of guilt."

1, I believe, needs an inciting incident reference: When [insert unlikely event] in [insert actual year] transforms four (or however many they are) young friends (if you have a more specific one or two word description for them, use it) into (whatever their media is) stars, they must decide...

and that's where I can't help you, because I don't know for sure if it's a "is stardom worth it" story, although it sure looks like it. And even if it is, you want to be more specific than that--again, what are the obstacles/challenges, and what are the stakes? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Janetinputney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 May 2019 at 10:32am
Hi, great titles. Here are my thoughts/ 2 cents.. ignore at your leisure: #1: f**k L.A.: An absurd, eclectic drama/comedy exploring the world of pre-9/11 Hollywood culture through the eyes of a diverse set of young friends as they're all unwittingly thrust into stardom. Imagine the era-spanning, character mosaic of Boogie Nights, meeting the teen angst fueled world of Donnie Darko.

I don't think you should use the word absurd. I bet even Monty Python didn't use that word in pitching. It says niche to me. So does eclectic tbh. And is it a comedy or a drama? I think you should decide (or a drama with comic tones) Also, you mention 9/11, so I assume it and NYC are going to loom large in the screenplay, but then you swerve into hollywood and stardom. I don't get the connection. Can you say early nineties instead of 9/11. Or are they thrust into stardom because of 9/11. You should clarify that. Also, character mosaic is very lyrical, but I would skip it. Also, Boogie Nights was mainly about Dirk, so I don't think of an ensemble story when I think of that (wrongly or rightly... just saying). I have no idea if this is right, but how about something like:

A dark comedy about a group of 4 teenagers in Hollywood in the early 90s who are unwittingly thrust into stardom because of X. Imagine Dirk Diggler meets Donnie Darko but with more Y.


#2: The Great Unwashed: After a high school teacher's field trip ends in the tragic death of his top three students, his community turns against him, his family struggles by his side, and he falls prey to his inner demons. This familial drama, inspired by true events, is like watching Rose tackle the survivor guilt aftermath of outliving Jack with a suburbia backdrop.  

I really like the first part of this although it seems really dark.  I had to pause when you said Rose... then think about about Jack.  And that reminded me of Kate and Leo's film Revolutionary Road.. so ti's not that unique.  Sorry to be harsh, but the second line sort of threw me after such a clear first line (although I didn't like 'by his side'... that you can show in the story.  How about something like: 
After a high school teacher's field trip ends in the tragic death of his top three students, his community turns against him, his family rejects him and he falls prey to his inner demons. This story, inspired by true events, explores survivor's guilt and the delicate journey of forgiveness.  


[/QUOTE]
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