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Arel VS. Scriptwriting (part 1): How to Write a Logline - Film Thrive

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The first stop for anyone who wants to make a movie is scriptwriting and the first stop for anyone
who wants to write a script, is a writing a logline. This post is all about the grueling process I went
through to come up with my logline, starting with why it was so important to write a logline, and
then going into the resources I used to do it.

1. What is a logline and why write


one?
When Disney was cataloguing scripts they were receiving, they would lose track of what story was
what because of the overwhelming quantity. So, they added to their logs a quick, one line
description of each script, which they called, a logline.

A logline is really that simple. It is a quick one or two lines of description that encapsulates the
story of the script. However, loglines today are used for more than just cataloguing. They are a key
tool used to develop the script into not only a great story, but one that can be sold to producers or
potential investors with just a couple of sentences. That is why the best screenwriters write the
logline before constructing the script. If they cant make the idea sound catching in just a couple
sentences, then it is probably not a solid idea yet. For the last week, this is what I have been
learning the hard way. This is also why this task, to me, became deceptively daunting.

On a snowy day in early December, 2013, My wife and I were meeting with George Escobar for
coffee. It was then when he strongly encouraged me to stop messing around with shorts and to
just get going with making my first feature film. I spent the next few days outlining an idea. I
worked pretty hard on this bad boy, researching story development and creating plot twists to
further push my characters. But, when I took my outline and tried to give it a logline that sounded

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Arel VS. Scriptwriting (part 1): How to Write a Logline - Film Thrive

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exciting or even just vaguely interesting, I came up dry. When it was all boiled down, my story was
predictable, loaded with fluff, and not very interesting. I tried recreating the story dozens of times
with different loglines, each time prioritizing the story points I had started with, not wanting to
lose my work. But after burning through tons of loglines that didnt seem to be getting much
better, I began to open up to letting new ideas come into the story. Sure enough, the logline
started to sound better. The story became easier to talk about because it sounded more rich and
intriguing. When I finally settled on a logline that sounded the best. I felt like my whole story was
revitalized.

The film is clear and catchy. That is the goal of a logline. If you are having a hard time explaining
your script in less than 30 seconds or without having people yawn in your face, WRITE A
LOGLINE. You will see your idea transform.

2. Resources I used to write my


logline
In this section I wanted to give you a quick list of all the resources I used to structure my logline
and what I intend to use to continue to develop the rest of the script.

1. Wordplayer
If you want the equivalent of a Masters degree in script writing but for free, go checkout
www.wordplayer.com. The site is very simple looking, but it is GOLD. The columns in it were put
together by two guys who are currently working in Hollywood, making their living off of writing
scripts (which is why they dont mind teaching people their craft for free). If youd rather trust
another writing guru who has never had a script purchased or made into a film, than be my guest,

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Arel VS. Scriptwriting (part 1): How to Write a Logline - Film Thrive

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but I think Ill stick with these guys.

2. Available Ears
I pitched my idea to anyone who would listen. To my friends, to my wife, and to my family. Usually
they didnt even need to tell me what they thought for me to know. They would listen, nod their
head and wouldnt really be interested in hearing much more past that. A logline needs to get
people to widen their eyes and say, Sweet! That is when you know you are on to something.
Unfortunately you arent going to be able to assess your own logline all the time to make sure it is
interesting. Talking to people helps break through those barriers youll likely set for yourself.

I had the added benefit that one of the guys I could pitch my logline to was George Escobar, who
has written and produced several films of his own. Not everyone can get that kind of help and I feel
very blessed and thankful. However, this is not instrumental for you. Take the time to learn the key
elements of constructing a good logline and it will make a world of difference for the rest of your
script.

3. The key elements that I have


learned make a great logline
Definitely check out the wordplayer.com column called Strange Attractor. Breaking down some of
what Terry Rossio talks about in that article, there are four key elements your logline needs to
have:

1. Who is the story about?


2. What is their situation?
3. What is their unique story?
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Arel VS. Scriptwriting (part 1): How to Write a Logline - Film Thrive

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4. What is their goal?


HOME

Digging deeper, here is an excellent logline that you might be familiar with:

A teenager is mistakenly sent into the past, where he must make sure his mother and father meet
and fall in love; he then has to get back to the future.

Obviously, this is the logline for Back to the Future, and guess what! It has all four key elements.
Who is the story about? A teenager. What is their situation? He is mistakenly sent into the past.
What is their unique story? He must make sure his mother and father meet. What is their goal? To
unite his parents in the past and get back to the future.

Lets do one more.

Desperate for cash after he has been kicked out of his band, a hell raising guitarist with delusions
of grandeur impersonates a substitute music teacher, but when he finds out his students are
talented musicians, he turns them into a rock band to compete in a rock competition against his
old band.

Who is the story about? A hell raising guitarist with delusions of grandeur. What is their situation?
Was kicked out of his band and is desperate for cash. What is their unique story? Impersonates a
substitute music teacher and turns his class into a rock band. What is their goal? To beat his old
band in a rock competition.

My mistake and I assume it is probably very common, was that I kept writing half loglines. Id write

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Arel VS. Scriptwriting (part 1): How to Write a Logline - Film Thrive

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who it was about and what their situation was, but I would leave out their unique story and their
goal. Both of those will set your film apart more than the other two elements. Without them your
story is bland and not very unique.

Keep checking in for more updates on the stories development and make sure you get on my emailing list so I can send you news about upcoming events and updates about future posts.
Comment or shoot me an e-mail if there is a specific topic you have questions on. Finally, thank
you so much for reading!

Watch out for the next post which will be all about story structure.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

! " #

Arel
Arel is a filmmaker on the East Coast in Winchester VA. A large body of his work
is commercials he produced and directed for companies nationwide through his
production company AvalancheROI, LLC. Presently he is in development on a
vigilante web-series through his production company, Avellino Studios.
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Robert Shaver 2 years ago

Found your podcast on Stitcher and listened to episode 32. Liked what I heard and would like to
subscribe, but I can't find your RSS feed. (I don't use iTunes and don't want to stay on Stitcher.)
This is the only way I could find to communicate with you. You might consider putting some way
to communicate with your followers besides these comments.
http://filmthrive.com/arel-vs-scriptwriting-part-1-writing-a-logline/

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Arel VS. Scriptwriting (part 1): How to Write a Logline - Film Thrive

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to communicate with your followers besides these comments.


NOTE: I was able to discover your RSS feed with a Google search. I tried "RSS" first but "feed"
was the trick. Here's the search: 'site:arelavellino.com feed'.
Looking forward to listening to more episodes.
Best regards,
Rob:-]
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Arel Avellino

Mod

> Robert Shaver 2 years ago

Hey Robert!
Glad your were able to find a way of subscribing. Sounds like you'd want to join our mailing
list. We update listeners on new shows and future shows from there. I'm always working on
how to make the site better. So, thank you for your thoughts! I'll start putting the stitcher
button in our episodes. Let me know if you have any other thoughts.
-A
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Robert Shaver > Arel Avellino 2 years ago

Hay Arel,
Thanks for the quick response. I liked the idea you mentioned about setting up
some kind of discussion system. However it may be hard to get people to
participate. You have a comment system for your blog posts ... why not for your
podcasts?
It could be as simple as a Google Group. Then all the comments are in one place.
I'd love to see a podcast/vodcast site that handed out learning challenges. Small
assignments to be shot and edited, then shared with the community and then
discussed. It would need guidelines for comment etiquette and moderators to keep
the threads on track.
The assignments could be things like, "Shoot a one minute day-for-night scene" or
"Shoot a scene with no dialog that tells a simple story, three minutes max."
Just some ideas.
Best regards,
http://filmthrive.com/arel-vs-scriptwriting-part-1-writing-a-logline/

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Arel VS. Scriptwriting (part 1): How to Write a Logline - Film Thrive

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Rob:-]
p.s. oh and add me to your email list. rs
1

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Arel Avellino

Mod

> Robert Shaver 2 years ago

We actually have discussion sections on our podcast. Checkout the page for
the podcast you listened to here:
http://arelavellino.com/philip...
We're trying to clean up our site to make it easier to use. One thing at a time
though =]
Yes, we'll definitely add you to the email list. Just shoot an email to you me
at arel@avellinostudios.com.
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VERY gifted filmmaker!

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