How to Write an Effective Logline for Your Next Film or Video
A good logline can relay the message and plot of your film or video during its early stages and on into its release.
Cover image via Shutterstock.
We’ve all made that long-winded three-minute spiel about the plot of our next film. And most of the time, we still feel like we’ve left out important aspects of the story. This is where a logline comes in.
A logline is essentially a one-to-two sentence summary of the plot of your film. It’s a sentence, or two, that identifies your main character, their motive, and the conflict they face. Yes, that is a lot to squeeze into one or two sentences. However, a logline should be dense and packed with information. No fluff.
Loglines will become your elevator pitch. You will recite this time and time again. So crafting a good one is essential.
Identify Your Characters and Their Goals
Let’s take a look at some loglines from popular shows and movies.
Nine noble families fight for control over the mythical lands of Westeros, while a forgotten race returns after being dormant for thousands of years.
Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown.
After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.
To craft your logline, begin by identifying your main character. Let’s take the Netflix show Ozark for example.
A Chicago-based financial advisor secretly relocates his family to the Missouri Ozarks when his dealings with a drug cartel go awry.
We can see here that we begin with a description of our main character. Are there many other characteristics or traits about Marty that we find out later in the series? Yes. However, a logline is a condensed version of only the most essential information.
Next, we identify Marty’s main objective: to relocate his family. Again, although he has many goals, this is the foundation of them all: to keep his family out of harm’s way.
Lastly, we introduce the main conflict of the story: the drug cartels. By introducing the main conflict into your logline, you tell the audience what stands in the protagonist’s way. If our main character simply moved his family to Missouri and everything was fine, the logline wouldn’t be very tempting.
Questions and Conversation
Loglines aren’t meant to answer all of the audience’s questions. If it’s an effective logline, it should leave the audience with questions about intrigue. It should open up a line of dialogue that inspires more questions about the plot of your story. If your logline piques the interest of the audience, you know it’s effective.