How to Write a Logline (the easy way)

Write a captivating logline that you can pitch to producers, funders, festivals and distributors in 10 seconds.
Write a Logline that sells your film

Imagine a producer is standing in front of you, now pitch the perfect logline to get his attention.

What is a logline

A logline is a one-sentence description of your film that makes the audience, producers and distributors want to know more. You use the logline to sell your film.

How many words in a logline

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

What is the goal of a logline

The goal of a logline is to captivate the reader, stimulate excitement so they want the know the rest of the story.

Why you need a logline

The logline is your core selling point when you pitch to the agents, executives and producers to get your film developed, financed, produced and distributed.

  • for you to test your concept
  • to pitch the script to producers
  • to market the project to financiers
  • when the sales agent sells your film to distributors
  • when the exhibitor advertises the film to the audience for advertising in print, online etc
  • when the audience decides which film to watch

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?

Now add descriptive words for the main character (think what you would look for in casting for the role) and describe the world (your shooting location).

How to write a good 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

5 steps to write your logline

  1. What is the characteristic of your main character
  2. What event starts the character on their journey
  3. What is the goal of the character
  4. Who or what stands in their way
  5. What does the character need to overcome to succeed

Characteristic traits in a logline

  • An insomniac office worker
  • A sullen 10-year-old girl
  • A promising young drummer
  • A mysterious stranger with a harmonica
  • A wheelchair-bound photographer
  1. Identify the character: Use an adjective that describes who they are, example 'desperately frustrated businessman', 'professional assassin' or 'promising young drummer'.
  2. The World your character lives in: Use descriptive words to create a visual idea of where your protagonist experiences their journey. Example: 'Warsaw ghetto of World War II', 'twilight world of international espionage' or '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. Example: 'gun battle on a boat', 'under attack by bandits' or '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.
  5. The Obstacle: It could be a storm, an evil character, this is where you add the conflict, something that stands in the way of the character achieving their goal.

Just answer the question: what is your film about? Now summarize your story in one sentence.

Add your logline to the Film Business Plan

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]

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].

The Godfather The aging patriarch [character trait] of an organized crime dynasty transfers control [event] of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son [obstacle].

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.

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.

** Also see the lists of Feature Film Logline Examples and Documentary Logline Examples

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

Remember the formula:

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