An Army flight medic risks his own life day in and day out while desperately trying to save the lives of injured soldiers and civilians in Iraq.
As I understand the premise, the logline can be condensed to:
“An Army flight medic risks his life day after day trying to save lives in war-ravaged Iraq.”
The story hook in the logline for me is the expectation of a script dramatizing the battle from a point of view not typical of most war movies; that is, from the point of view of a medic rather than a combat soldier. A point of view that still will have harrowing rescue attempts, life and death scenes — lots of dramatic conflict.
However, as the logline is currently written, it gives the impression that those scenes will be organized as a string of pearls:this insanely wild and hazardous event occurred, and then another insanely wild and hazardous event… and then another… and another… and another…
But what movie makers want to read is a logline that promises to deliver those wild and hazardous events riding up a dramatic escalator. That is, scenes building in dramatic tension and stakes to a most insanely wild and most hazardous climax.
What movie makers want to see, in other words, is a plot. A plot that organizes all those events around a theme and in reference to a dramatic goal of the main characters.
Take the movie “The Hurt Locker”. The bomb disposal squad risks their lives every day defusing and disposing of IED (Improvised Explosive Devices). Lots of risk, lots of tension. Lots of material for a string of pearls story.
However, the script wasn’t written was a string of pearls. All those dramatic moments are organized around specific, objective goals: two of the team members are counting down the days to the end of their tour. They just want to survive and go home. However, the maverick behavior of the new guy raises the dramatic question: will they survive to the end of their tour or will this maverick get them all killed?
Embedded in the character of the maverick is the theme. And it’s not the obvious go-to theme that “war is hell”. Rather, through the maverick character, the screenwriter, Mark Boal, dramatizes a paradoxical phenomena: some people feel most alive when they are faced with the prospect of their imminent death. Or as Winston Churchill phrased it: “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” (He should know: he was writing from personal experience, his participation in a military campaign by the British army in India in 1897.)
The screenwriter was exploring a key insight in the writings of the great American philosopher and psychologist, William James. (For example: “What Makes a Life Significant?”, “The Energies of Man”) How do I know this? Because of the name writer gave his maverick character, Sgt. William James. No coincidence.
fwiw and best wishes with your writing.
>> right before they go home
Ah, a “ticking clock” — a very useful element for building a plot and logline. How much time do they have left on their tour?
>>>get stuck being the primary medivac crew or an offensive that….
That might be the inciting incident?
Okay, so “One week before the end of their tour [inciting incident], a medivac crew must…”
Well, must what? I’m guessing they’re emotionally exhausted and hoping to glide through that last week and then go home, only to be assigned one last mission, that portends to be the most stressful and dangerous of their tour.