A week after having leg surgery for which he would need 3 months rest, a 45 year old poor night guard returns to work in order to not loose his job and keep providing for his family. He encounters a group of burglars in a building garage and is unable to stop them.

    Short Film – The Night Guard

    Logliner Posted on February 13, 2015 in Public.
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    9 Review(s)

      You’re missing a couple of things – a goal, and the inciting incident is not made clear – the surgery? the burglary?

      Logliner Answered on February 13, 2015.
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        You’ve got flaws, he is poor, he is injured and can not do his job. You have a incident, the robbery. But what happens? Is he sacked? What is the story. Good setting, but it needs a start middle and end. This could rolled into a sentence leaving room for more story, “returning too early from surgery a night guard fails to prevent a robbery which….”.

        Summitry Answered on February 14, 2015.
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          This is a second iteration of the same log line but it seams as if the problematic elements are still present in the log line.

          Lets break it down:

          MC – poor night guard

          Flaw – ?

          Goal – Catch the burglars? Look after his leg? Provide for his family?

          Obstacle – Health problem? Sense of responsibility to the family? Duty to the job?

          Antagonist – Burglars.

          Inner journey goal – ?

          For him to achieve his goal of catching the burglars, unless this is a Die Hard kind of situation it would conceivably not be enough for a 110 minute film maybe a one or two act short film.
          How long is this film going to be?

          For him to achieve his goal of looking after his leg, all he needs to do is nothing which means no film of any length would come of this.

          For him to achieve his goal of providing for his family, it would be hard to establish this in a concrete visual way short of seeing him signing a long term contract of employment guaranteeing him income despite his health. This becomes extremely un cinematic, a vague a goal at that and not really story worthy.

          I think the crux of the problem with this concept is the lack of a clear, compelling and cinematic goal for the MC. Try coming up with a list of 30 goals and pick the best ones then redraft the logline with these and see which one is the best.

          Hope this helps.

          Singularity Answered on February 14, 2015.
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            I think the situation has dramatic possibilities, but (per Nir Shelter) there needs to be a tighter focus on the singular dramatic question of the plot.

            The man’s health issues, his poverty, his need to return to work instead of rest are complications. Complications to what? To what happens the night the burglars break in? Or the consequences (like his being fired) that occur after the burglary, after he can’t do what he was hired to do?

            Is the plot about what happens the night of the burglary? Or what happens afterwards?

            Singularity Answered on February 15, 2015.
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            Thank you for all your comments.

            I should point out that this is an idea for a short film, which would take place in a single night (the night of the burglary).

            After reading your comments, I had this idea of making this night be the night in which the night guard’s supervisors would determine who they would fire, for they needed to make cutbacks in their company, so the main character would be competing with his colleagues. After failing to catch or stop the burglars, he would realize he was about to loose his job, and the short would end with him running after them, while his facial expression showed increasingly more despair.

            I also thought of making the main character a little bit cocky or arrogant, so that not being able to catch the burglars would have an even bigger impact on him.

            So, to break it down:

            Main Character: poor night guard
            Flaw: cocky/arrogant
            Goal: to keep his job
            Obstacle: burglars
            Antagonist: pain in his legs
            Inciting Incident: this is night his supervisors will be evaluating them
            Inner journey: going from overconfidence to despair

            What do you think ? Please bear in mind that this is an idea for a short film, not a 110 page screenplay.

            Once again, thank your for your help.

            Default Answered on February 21, 2015.
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              Understood.

              With the goal being the job I suggest reveres engineering the story from that.

              “…while his facial expression showed increasingly more despair.” Maybe Brando could have been able to pull this off but even then its a week cinematic end visual.

              Being a short film you could arguably get away with a less than ideal resolution to the story but I strongly suggest re thinking the end. Better to give the story a definitive ending giving the audience the complete emotional experience and maybe after the resolution plant a seed of doubt with a bit of irony. In his rush did he miss one of the burglars? Are the burglars going to get off by bribing the cops that he called to the scene? etc…

              “I also thought of making the main character a little bit cocky or arrogant, …” why would the audience then care about the MC? In a short better to make the MC a sympathetic one from the start as there is very little time to build his character and help the audience like him.

              Main Character: poor night guard

              Flaw: cocky/arrogant – better to change this.

              Goal: to keep his job

              Obstacle: burglars – these should be the antagonists

              Antagonist: pain in his legs – a sensation is not an antagonist better to make the antagonist a sentient being that will appose the MC and continuously try to stifle his efforts.

              Inciting Incident: this is night his supervisors will be evaluating them – This was always going to be the night his supervisor was going to evaluate him, what event happened that night that was different to any other night? What event changed the MC’s world forcing him to take action?

              Inner journey: going from overconfidence to despair – better to make the inner journey a change for the better in the MC particularly in short films for example from naive to street wise or from coward to brave.

              Singularity Answered on February 21, 2015.
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              Why do you think it is a bad ending ? If we’re able to show that he is not being able nor will he be to catch the burglars, why wouldn’t that be a good cinematic end visual ?

              As to the main character being cocky or arrogant, wouldn’t the audience relate to him given his motivations (keeping his job in order to provide for his family) ? Perhaps he doesn’t need to be cocky, but confident at least – as if he was lying to himself, trying to believe that he can get the job done. That way his inner journey would be going from being confident to being in despair, being in denial to realizing his fate.

              And as to the inciting incident, this would be the night in which a figure of authority who is not usually there comes with the sole purpose of evaluating him and his colleagues and determine who to let go based on their performance.

              To sum it up (with the changes):

              Main Character: poor night guard
              Flaw: in denial (believes he can do his job despite the pain in his leg)
              Goal: to keep his job
              Obstacle: pain in his leg
              Antagonist: burglars

              Inciting Incident: this is the night in which a figure of authority who is not usually there comes with the sole purpose of evaluating him and his colleagues and determine who to let go based on their performance.

              Inner Journey: being in denial to realizing his fate

              What do you think ?
              Once again, thank you for your help.

              Default Answered on February 24, 2015.
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                Once again: why do you want to tell a story about failure, a story with an unhappy ending? About a man who through no fault of his own loses his job? (It wasn’t his fault that he needed surgery, was it?) What’s your dramatic point (other than life is brutish, short and unfair)?

                And further: he may be in denial about the severity of his injury. But isn’t it also the case that if he weren’t in denial, if he didn’t believe he should return to work, he will be fired for not showing up?

                So if he thinks he’s well enough to return to work, he’s going to lose his job when he does. And if he doesn’t think he’s well enough to go, he’s going to lose his job when he doesn’t.

                So, he’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. No matter what he does, he’s going to be fired. Right?

                Ergo the alleged “character flaw” seems irrelevant to the outcome of the man’s struggle. With or without “the character flaw”, he’s fired, doomed, f###ed!

                But in drama a character flaw is not irrelevant to the outcome, it’s germane, it’s pivotal to the outcome of a character’s story. If a character lacks the flaw, then there would be a different outcome.

                But, to repeat, the outcome of this story seems to be independent of his “character flaw”. No matter what he does, he loses his job. Which means it doesn’t seem to be a character flaw germane to the plot.

                All that his “character flaw” seems to determine is the circumstances — HOW he’s fired, not WHETHER he’s fired. But shouldn’t a character flaw determine WHETHER as well as HOW?

                Singularity Answered on February 24, 2015.
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                  “mffr, you are killing it! But still there absolutely is potential in this story if you make it more ACTIVE and pimp up the stakes. So not losing his job and keep providing for his family is PRIMAL – and that is good – (Save the Cat) but not PRIMAL ENOUGH to keep the audience interest these days. For me the main problem is that the logline does not show character grows. The protag has to take things in his own hands and save the day (the cat) We wan’t to see a one legged hero (slowly getting) in CONTROLE… For starters:

                  ** 4 star Houdini **

                  A dishonorable discharge war hero returns to his degrading old job as a night guard at a (high stakes facility) only to find his family held hostage there by a(n) (old enemy {being a kickass antagonist(s) ) who threaten(s) to behead his loved ones (one by one) if he does not pay a ridicules amount of ransom money (within an absurdly short time) without leaving the facility” The (antagonist) will learn not to fuck with a resenful former 4 star general.

                  Samurai Answered on February 24, 2015.
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