Well, after a long, sometimes arduous, journey beginning way back in the summer of 2015, my vessel of a short film LEAVE – based upon my short story of the same name – has found its homeport at Amazon Prime and is now available to be viewed for free by all… provided you are either a U.S. or U.K. Prime subscriber. If not, then it will cost you a mere buck/pound or two to watch it.
Yes, I know, I know… I haven’t talked about it for a long time…
But my movie is still very much a thing.
A very big thing.
And the cast and crew is – to use a word The Donald used more than too many times in last night’s insufferable “presidential” debate – beautiful!
And all will be revealed soon (coincidentally, just about the time our IndieGoGo campaign goes live).
But for now, to get an idea of where our leading actors are coming from, I strongly recommend you become familiar with the CBS show “Limitless” and the TNT show “The Last Ship.”
Yeah, those shows…
Which means my show is gonna be. . . (wait for it). . . huuuge!
Our private Facebook writers and readers group recently held its second WRITE EDIT WRITE Challenge (see the results of the first challenge here). Because my focus is on producing a short film based upon an adaptation of my short story LEAVE, I figured we might as well have a challenge focused on screenwriting. Ergo, we asked the group to submit a 25-word, or less, logline describing a WIP or produced work from a genre of their choosing.
It’s no surprise that the author who submitted the chosen response is a working screenwriter who has some serious writing chops. Author Ann Kimbrough shares her screenwriting expertise in several places on the web, all of which you can reach via her namesake website annkimbrough.com. My favorite medium of Ann’s is her youtube channel where she and other working screenwriters get together to share their knowledge of the industry. Fantastic stuff. We are very fortunate to have Ann as part of our WRITE EDIT WRITE group, and, if I may say, you are very lucky that she has written for us here an excellent post about the mystery and intrigue of writing a logline. You’re welcome. :)
Ann’s logline submission for WEW #2:
In a secret facility, a rookie female FBI analyst struggles to contain a serial killer, but her only hope is trusting a devious bombing suspect.
Birth of Loglines & Beyond
Loglines are creeping into your life!
Once only used by screenwriters, all kinds of writers find the little buggers useful. The first one I ever saw was in a TV Guide. Remember those? I barely remember newspapers, even though I’ve heard they still exist. For Millennials who can’t write cursive, read clocks or relate to newspapers: a TV Guide was a paper booklet that came with the Sunday paper. It contained a schedule of all the TV shows for a week.
Psst: we’re talkin’ back in ancient times when there were only three major TV stations. I know… it’s Epically Stone Age.
The guides also contained a little blurb about each show. Those blurbs were the birth of loglines.
I imagine TV Guides still exist today, somewhere without Wi-Fi, but they must be the size of phone books. Remember those? Err… we’ll save that lesson for another time.
TV Guide blurbs looked something like this:
Kidnapped in Tasmania, MacGyver uses a banana, a piece of gum and a washing machine to make a robot and save the world.
I doubt that episode of MacGyver ever aired, but maybe it will in the re-vamped show that’s on CBS this season.
Loglines actually do two things:
1. Get your concept across ASAP.
2. Sell your story.
Screenwriters pitch their scripts all the time. In turn, if a producer likes the idea, they have to turn around and pitch it to the principals in their company before an offer to option can be made. When a script is optioned, the production company pitches it to the moneymen for funding – financiers or studios. The better the logline, the better the pitch is all the way up the line.
For novelists, loglines can be used in several ways:
- Start a query letter
- On a book’s Amazon page
- On a book’s back cover
- On any sales material to build an audience
In an age when our watches are digital instead of sundials and shoes have Velcro instead of laces, no one has time to read a whole marketing pitch. When writers can get their message across fast, they have a better chance of success.
Plenty of rules exist about what makes a logline a good logline, but I’ll keep it simple.
1. Keep it to one sentence, like my MacGuyer example. Some pundits say to make it under 25 words, but don’t go crazy if you’re at 30.
2. Tell the whole story. Protagonist fights what odds to win what battle?
3. Don’t use proper names. Use occupations with a descriptive adjective. Ex.: a wily candy creator, could be used in a logline for Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Or a deformed recluse for The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
4. Write it in present tense.
5. Don’t include sub-plots. Stick to the main storyline of protagonist vs. antagonist.
6. Match the tone of your story. When Stephen King writes a logline, I’m sure it sounds scary.
7. Test the logline on friends. If they ask a bunch of questions and sound confused, then keep working. If they ooh and aah, appearing to get the story, then you may celebrate.
One caveat: a common logline error is writing a logline that you think fits your story, but makes people see a different story. Such an error will turn any reader sour when your book (or script) takes a turn they didn’t expect.
Ex. 1: A long-haired princess trapped in a tower awaits a dashing prince.
Do you sense a Rapunzel story?
What if the logline should have really been:
Ex. 2: A long-haired princess trapped in a tower awaits a dashing prince to sacrifice for her freedom.
Whoa! That’s a completely different story. An agent, producer or reader might want one version of that story, but not the other. Misleading them, even by accident, will hurt in the long run. Loglines that pitch the whole story lead to more success once the manuscript is read.
Avoid this mistake by testing your logline on your Beta Readers. Or on complete strangers, who know nothing about your writing. (I’ve been told grocery and bank lines are great places to do this.) You pitch them your logline, then ask what kind of story they’d expect to read. If it’s close to the story your wrote, you’re good to go.
Like all kinds of writing, creating loglines gets better with practice. So, get going!
Ann Kimbrough’s imagination comes from growing up as an Air Force brat, which entertained her childhood with foreign lands and amazing characters. They tend to pop-up in all her writing, whether screenplay or novel. The magic continued after college, when she worked in Hollywood and became a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Ann hosts YouTube show Screenwriters Beat, and spends the rest of her time writing contained, thrilling screenplays and cozy mystery novels under pen name Ann Audree, as well as romance under pen names Pippa Minx and Ann McGinnis. Ann is an optioned and produced screenwriter.
That’s the rule, right?
Books rule over movies.
Before I got involved with this whole short film thing, I always would get indignant after watching yet another failed movie adaptation of a book I liked. And I would always wonder to myself why in the heck could they never get it write/right.
Until on a whim I decided to try my hand at adapting my short story LEAVE into a screenplay.
Right away I realized that this was going to be no easy feat.
Introspection and contemplation that serve a short story or a novel so well is basically useless in a screenplay where just about everything must be represented as action and dialogue so it can be seen and heard by the audience.
Of course LEAVE as a short story is mostly introspection and contemplation by the protagonist so right off the bat the whole structure would have to change in order to be able to show his shift of character from beginning to end.
To do this, new scenes had to be invented and new characters had to be developed and within the first writing of the story of LEAVE as a screenplay, it was already hugely different from the story of LEAVE the short story. And that was only by my own efforts.
After I showed it to an actor friend for his feedback, from his guidance it went from 33 pages down to fifteen. And yes, to whittle it down that much there had to be a significant change in story and tempo.
But really, the biggest changes to the story didn’t occur until once the screenplay was accepted by a studio and a director was found and she got ahold of it… and then several of the lead actors got ahold of it…
Talk about feedback overload. It took much effort and persuasion to maintain it as a story I recognized.
And, while we are scheduled to begin filming in two months, we haven’t yet cast the lead actor so I can only wonder what changes still might occur to it.
But you know what… the story as it is now as a near fully developed screenplay is really not that far from what it is as a short story.
It is just different.
And much, much better in my opinion.
Still, I guarantee it if you read the short story and then see the film, you will be significantly surprised by the differences that there are between the two.
I just hope you are not significantly disappointed.
But I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be because we have an awesome crew and the cast is going to be first rate and impressive.
And I can also guarantee that from now on whenever I watch a movie that has been poorly adapted from a book that I like I will certainly be less critical and more understanding of the differences between the two and the winding and somewhat weary course that had to be traveled to get the story to the screen.
Because now I know.
And now I have only one rule regarding movies and books.
Both of them do.
Rule, that is…
Have you heard about our private Facebook Writers & Readers Group?
And That’s The Problem.
AND WILL YOU…
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AKA TMI TIME WITH KURT
AKA ONE MORE WAY FOR KURT TO ANNOY YOU…
AND YOU TO IGNORE HIM
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?
I invite you to pass the time checking out the short film funding campaign for a good friend of mine, Jeffrey Stackhouse.
Jeffrey – an award-winning screenwriter and all around talented/good guy – and the rest of his cast and crew, have just launched a fundraising campaign to produce “I Am The Doorway,” a film adaption of a Stephen King short story that is endorsed and encouraged by King, himself.
Already there is discussion that Jeff’s film has the makings to be the best cinematic adaptation of King’s work yet.
If you’re a fan of King, horror, independent film-making, or all of the above, please check out Jeff’s work and support him – monetarily and/or socially – if you are able by clicking here.
P.s. – In facebook’s never-ending effort to make money (nothing wrong with that, btw) they make it very hard for public pages to be seen unless they pay to promote their posts. It gets very expensive so please share this as both an act of kindness and as an easy, inexpensive way to support The Arts.
Here’s their pitch video from the film’s director:
To sign up to be notified when the funding campaign for my short film begins, please click here.