The more I learn, the more I start to think that the title and logline – the first thing the reader sees – is one of the most critical parts of the entire screenplay.
I’ve recently joined the listserve for Austin Screenwriters Group, and the other day received an e-mail from an online screenplay competition, in which they suggested that you name your document something that will compell the reader. If you were looking at one file called “The Cave Where The Water Always Drips.pdf” and another called “Script.doc” which would you look at first?
And it was then, going to ASG’s website, that I realized why I still haven’t attended one of their readings. It’s because, based on the titles and the loglines, I haven’t found one I want to attend.
If you follow the above link, you’ll notice on the frontpage the upcoming script schedule, including the author/title and a logline/description. Now when I look at those, out of 12 scripts listed, 7 months’ worth of readings, almost all of them are dull beyond all belief.
Blake Snyder points out, in Save the Cat!, the four components of the logline: irony; a compelling mental picture; audience and cost; and a killer title. Expats in Islam comes close, but there’s something missing from it. I think it takes too much work to get to the irony or the mental picture. 35 has no irony, and the title means nothing.
Icon, on the other hand has all of these elements, and I’ve been looking forward to sitting in on this script for months. “A con man turns the world of religion upside down but then discovers he is the actual messiah.” All of those elements. Bam. There was another last week that I wanted to attend (but was unable to, due to a last-minute scheduling conflict), which dealt with the true story of Tchaikovsky’s battle with homosexuality. That one hit the nail on the head.
But the rest of these are completely and thoroughly uninteresting to me. And if you can’t compell me with your logline, how on earth am I supposed to trust you with 2-3 hours of my time?