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Logline

Easily understand logline format and structure as the foundation of your movie.
How to Write a Logline that Sells

Perfect your logline which you will use as an 'elevator pitch' to describe the core of your film and keep you on track as you go from development through to film distribution.

What is a Logline?

A logline is a teaser, a clear one-sentence description of your film most key aspects, such as the main character, the setting, the core conflict, and the antagonist. You use the logline to sell your film.

When you need a logline

The logline is your core selling point when you:

  • pitch to agents, executives and producers to get your film developed, financed, produced and distributed
  • test your concept to pitch the key crew and cast
  • when the sales agent sells your film to distributors
  • for advertising in print, online to capture the audience

How to write a logline for a film

The logline should take the reader on a visual journey in their mind, empathize with the characters and root for the protanist to achieve the goal.

  1. The logline needs to create a visual in the readers mind
  2. Describe your main character with personality traits
  3. Set the logline in a world where the journey can begin
  4. Create empathy when your main characters meet the obstacle
  5. Get the viewer to root for the character to succeed

Logline Length

Logline length can be as brief as 30 words, but best between 25-50 words in your logline. Less is more.

3 Key Elements of a Logline

A good logline consists of three major elements: the character, the character’s goal and the obstacle to overcome.

  1. What [character traits] does your main character have?
  2. What [dynamic action or goal] must he take to keep your story in suspense?
  3. What is the obstacle or antagonist that your main character has to overcome?

Logline Format

When a [major event] occurs the [character trait] hero, must [dynamic action] to overcome [obstacle].

Logline Structure

The basic structure of a logline gives the reader what the story is about, who the main characters are, what they want, and what the conflict they need to overcome.

When industry insiders read a logline, they should clearly see the following:

  • The main characters
  • The incident that started the journey
  • The world in which they live
  • The hurdles they must overcome
  • The high stakes that is the resolution.

Logline vs Tagline vs Synopsis

The logline, tagline and synopsis have different lengths with specific purposes, to sell your film to the audience, financiers and distributors.

  • Tagline: On the movie poster, the tagline is no more than 5 words long, concise, and instantly memorable. See movie tagline examples
  • Logline: The logline is a short teaser of up to 50 words about the film that is used to sell the concept to producers, distributors, and audiences.
  • Synopsis: The synopsis is a couple of paragraphs up to 500 words long that goes into more detail about the plot's characters.

5 Steps to Write Your Logline

The logline must create an image, a visual world in the readers mind. Write down the following steps to get a clear structure for your logline.

1. Identify the character

Use descriptive words for the main character, think what you would look for in casting for the role.

  • An insomniac office worker
  • A sullen 10-year-old girl
  • A promising young drummer
  • A mysterious stranger with a harmonica
  • A wheelchair-bound photographer

2. The world the character lives in

Describe the world to create a visual of where your protagonist experiences their journey, most likely to be your shooting location.

  • Warsaw ghetto of World War II
  • Twilight world of international espionage
  • Cut-throat music conservatory

3. The journey

What sets off the story in motion, the incident that takes the character and the audience on an adventure. Describe the event that starts the journey.

  • Gun battle on a boat
  • Under attack by bandits
  • Falls in love

4. The Goal

Your character evolves to attain their goal and the audience must feel invested with empathy, rooting for your character to the desired outcome.

  • Seeking redemption
  • Find a fortune
  • Reunited with a loved one

5. The Obstacle

This is where you add the conflict, something that stands in the way of the character achieving their goal.

  • An evil character
  • Pursued by law enforcement
  • A secret that needs to be unveiled

Once you have your movie logline written down, you have the foundation of your film. It gives you structure for your screenplay, but most of all, it becomes the pitch to attract audience, film funding and distribution.

Logline Formula with Examples

When a [major event], the [character trait] hero, must [dynamic action] to overcome [obstacle]

  • What is the [major event]?
  • Who is your main character and what is their [character trait]?
  • What [dynamic action] does your main character have to do to overcome [obstacle]
  1. Jaws: When a killer shark unleashes chaos [major event] on a beach community, a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer [character trait] must hunt the beast [dynamic action] down before it kills again [obstacle].
  2. The Godfather: The aging patriarch [character trait] of an organized crime dynasty transfers control [event] of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son [obstacle].
  3. Star Wars: Luke Skywalker, a spirited farm boy [character trait], joins rebel forces [dynamic action] to save Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader [obstacle], and the galaxy from the Empire’s planet-destroying Death Star.
  4. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial: A meek and alienated little boy [character trait] finds [event] a stranded extraterrestrial. He has to find the courage to defy the authorities [dynamic action] to help the alien return [obstacle] to its home planet.

3 secrets of a perfect logline

  1. the logline must create an image, a visual world in the readers mind
  2. the audience must have empathy with your character
  3. the logline needs to create a want to know more

Test your Logline

  • When you share the logline with your friends, do their eyes light up?
  • Read it out loud to a group of people to see the reaction
  • Ask a friend to tell the storyline to someone, then you will be able to hear what part makes them most excited