What is a log line?
A log line is a one or sometimes two sentence description that boils the script down to its essential narrative.
Good and Bad Examples of Log Lines
AFTERGLOW (Alan Rudolph, 1997) – Two unhappy couples cross paths. BAD — What exactly is it in this film which makes these couples interact, and what make them interesting to watch?
ALL THE RIGHT MOVES (Michael Chapman, 1983) – A Pennsylvania steel-town ambitious and hot headed high school coach tries to spoil a football hero’s scholarship dream. GOOD – This gives a fairly clear sense of what is at stake and what the concerns of the movie are (character).
AMARCORD (Federico Fellini, 1974) – A young man, a stand-in for the director Fellini, romantically views life in the 1930s Italian village of the director’s youth. GOOD – This film will be about nostalgia, told lyrically, with less of a plot than an eye for the past.
BIG NIGHT (Stanley Tucci, 1996) – Two very different brothers promote their struggling 1950s New Jersey Italian restaurant by inviting Louis Prima and his band to take part in a sumptuous dinner there. GOOD – The plot line seems to hinge on the characters. There is a story through line.
DENNIS THE MENACE (Nick Castle, 1993) – Comic strip moppet plays pranks on Mr. Wilson. BAD – Though it is clear how shallow this film is, there is no attempt to give the reader a flavour of what makes the hijinks interesting or different.
GRADUATE (Mike Nichols, 1967) – A college graduate, home for the summer, has an affair with the wife of his father’s business partner, then falls in love with her daughter. BAD – Describes the plot outline but fails to give the setting (What time frame? The 60s mean something in terms of Hoffman’s revolt) or any sense of the central conflict of the film. What are the interesting conflicts? Who is this graduate (we need adjectives), what does the Bancroft character want?