Making a film can sometimes be a daunting and overwhelming experience. It is easy to get lost in the multitude of ideas that run through the mind when first starting to make a film. All of these ideas can make it difficult to begin writing the screenplay or script. That is why it is important to sum up the story one wants to tell in one-line. This one-line, or logline, is crucial to the development of the script because it keeps the story centered on one concept. If writing a script is like being a ship in the middle of a fog, than the logline is the lighthouse that will guide the ship in the right direction. So what exactly is a logline? A logline is a brief summary of the scripts plot in one sentence.
“A robotic assassin from a post-apocalyptic future travels back in time to eliminate a waitress, whose son will grow up and lead humanity in a war against machines.” The Terminator 1984
“After his son is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney, a timid clownfish sets out on a journey to bring him home.” Finding Nemo 2003
“A teenage loner pushes his way into the underworld of a high school crime ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.” Brick 2005
These are a couple of examples of loglines for movies. Each one is able to capture the plot of the film and it is easy to see how important each logline is to the structure of the film. But not only do these loglines help to structure the story, they are also there to entice the audience.
This audience includes everyone from studio executives, producers, agents and even the people that will hopefully pay to watch the movie. This is another good reason to have a logline. People are often busy and they do not have the time to sit and listen to a long dragged out summary of a story. Therefore it is important to have a logline to hook them in. If the filmmaker cannot break the story down into one line then they will lose this audience. Think about the many things that can distract a person on a daily basis; TV shows, sports, video games, books, the internet, family, jobs, school and on and on and on. The logline will be able to catch their attention even if it is for a split second. Sometimes that’s all you need. So before you start jotting down a million ideas and planning the shots that you want to get, stop and figure out what the story is about and write it down in one sentence because without that lighthouse you will just be lost in the fog.