Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Popular Films' logline Worksheet


Tim Albaugh, cofounder of Popular Films, and an instructor in the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting, was kind enough to share his insights on loglines with us. Loglines are in many ways more important than the script itself, since if your one-liner isn’t compelling, the script won’t get in the door. Albaugh teaches this material in his UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting class, and we’re pleased to present it to you here.


By Tim Albaugh

Loglines are many times more difficult to write than a screenplay. But if you can’t tell your story in a few sentences, you’ll never be able to do it in 120 pages.

Loglines are a condensed version of your story, usually 50 words or less. It’s the “trailer” for the reader or development executive. It should give the essence of the story and most importantly, hook the reader.

Loglines should reveal the protagonist’s PERSONALITY and SITUATION; the important COMPLICATIONS; describe the ACTION the protagonist takes; and hint at the CLIMAX and the potential TRANSFORMATION of the protagonist.

Everything needs to be distilled down to the essentials. Forget the small stuff; no details. Make them have to read the script.

Focus on WHO your story is about and WHAT the CONFLICT is.

Make sure you include the human story (emotional conflict) in your logline.
Start with the protagonist, then give the emotional conflict that has to be overcome in order to solve the external conflict.

Don’t forget, your script has to be about a person with a problem -- and the person LEAST able to solve the problems usually gets stuck with it.

Use strong, action words. Case in point:


Michael is an arrogant, unemployed actor who has no respect for women. Unable to find work, Michael dresses up as a woman and lands a job on a soap opera. Forced to be a woman 24/7, Michael learns to respect the opposite sex and ultimately becomes a better man.

First sentence is character and his emotional problem. Second sentence is his “plot” problem and his reaction to it; the action he takes. The third sentence suggests the transformation the protagonist will experience.

Just like a movie has three acts, your logline should have those three beats mentioned above. Beginning, middle, end.


To get Popular Films to work for you, schedule a consultation! Popular will read your script and set up a 2-hour face-to-face meeting with you. Popular has projects set up all over the town. We know of no other working production company that does this, so take advantage of this amazing opportunity. For more on Popular, check out their Coverage, Ink web page.

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