Hounded by debt collectors, a brassy small-time hustler solves her money woes by becoming a debt collector herself.
As usual you make valid points.
>>>”I’ll never understand why people insist on keeping their loglines weak by not starting with the protagonist and adding in commas for no reason.”
Well, not that anything I can say will make you “understand”, but here goes:
>>>Do you remember what Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper” was about? I don’t! Most of the people who went to see it had no idea what it was about! They just saw ads with The Rock blowing up shit and said yeah, I wanna see that!
That’s comparing apples to oranges. Loglines are targeted to a different market, to the people who makes movies, not to the people who watch them.
From what I’ve been able to glean from reading the industry hype, what hooked Dwayne Johnson, got him to attach to “Skyscraper” was the SITUATION. Because the situation gave him the opportunity to showcase himself in the role of (another) action hero. The situation sold the script — not the character.
What sold the movie at the box-office is another matter.
Again, loglines are pitched to movie makers, not movie viewers.
>>>though ideally the combination is what really sells the concept.
That’s my point. I think character versus conflict (plot) is a false dichotomy in determining what ought to determine the lead for a logline. It’s not a binary choice. A good logline needs both (obviously) but as to which you might lead with depends on the story — and the target market.
I don’t think that drawing in the character until the 5th word of an 18 word logline is a flaw that renders the logline DOA. If the character didn’t appear until, say, the 15th word of a 25 word logline– oh yes, that’s would be a fatal flaw.
I assume we can agree that what constitutes the story hook is ultimately subjective, in the mind of the reader. Some people (like yourself apparently) are more attracted to the characters. Okay, that’s you.
But I’m not you. As a matter of fact, what attracted me to this film was not the character — but the situation, the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” aspect. And if I were a movie producer, that is what would attract me to the script.
Some movie makers are more inclined to get hooked on strong characters, some on strong conflicts. Different strokes.
>>>You say that sometimes the situation is more of a hook than the person dealing with it — yes, sometimes. But rarely. We’re talking Jurassic Park level conflict here.
Only rarely? I beg to differ.
I say that not on the basis of my intuition nor because of my personal preference. I beg to differ based upon a systematic study of loglines for scripts that got sold (per the BlackList and other industry sources) and movies that got made. On an analysis of 965 loglines to date, to be precise.
I would post some graphics to illustrate my claim; however, the ability to post graphics on this site has been disabled. I refer you to an earlier graphic I was able to post in October 2016 (you’ll have scroll down the thread).
It is my study of loglines that led me long ago to conclude that the standard logline formulation featured on this site could use some, uh, rethinking.
At least on that point we seem to agree.
I’ve not seen the film, but your logline looks totally solid. Being devil’s advocate, could you get rid of “Hounded by debt collectors” and replace “money woes” with something that sums the debt collectors up? Not that it needs it, just an exercise to see if it could be shaved down to 14 words! LOL 🙂
Being hounded by debt collectors is the inciting incident. The story hook is a take on “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
And it does solve her money woes. She’s a natural. She’s so good she forms her own debt collection agency that competes against the sleazy guy who hired her — the midpoint pivot.
So her relationship with her sleazy nemesis goes through 3 roles, 2 switches:
1] She’s starts out as his victim.
2] Then she becomes his employee and protege.
3] Finally, she becomes his rival.
Good plotting, imho.
“Hounded by debt collectors, a brassy small-time hustler solves her money woes by becoming a debt collector herself.”
And then what? If the logline specifies how she solves her problem, then what’s the problem? What’s the conflict?
Why is this logline even phrased this way? You could use the exact same words in a different order and make it much more impactful: “A brassy small-time hustler hounded by debt collectors solves her money woes by becoming a debt collector herself.” I’ll never understand why people insist on keeping their loglines weak by not starting with the protagonist and adding in commas for no reason.
Even doing that, it still raises too many questions for the story to be clear. If she owes people money and they’re after her, why would she not already have collected the debts that are owed her? Or does her becoming a debt collector mean she works for somebody else, collecting the money that somebody else is owed in order to pay off her own debts? If she’s such a small-time hustler how is it she has debts worth collecting? And again, what exactly is at stake here if the solution to her problem is presented up front? There seems to be no obstacle for her, if solving her money woes is so easy it can be summed up in the logline.
You’ve got to give her more of a challenge, or if she actually has one in the script, at least tell us what it is…I mean you might as well put “The End” after the logline because it doesn’t sound like there’s any more to the story than that. A logline should sum up the first half; tell us what happens to the midpoint — what’s her problem, how does she intend to solve it? If you tell us how she solves it, what else is there to tell?
Thanks for your notes.
Whenever possible, I prefer to lead with what I believe is the story hook. Sometimes that’s the situation more than the character who has to deal with it. I do agree that it’s important to introduce the protagonist ASAP, but I don’t subscribe to it as an ironclad requirement. In this case, I considered the story hook to be the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” conceit.
As for your other complaints about the plotting, take it up with screenwriter for the movie. It ain’t my job to polish the plots other people wrote, only to attempt to reflect them in a logline.
By the midpoint of the movie she has solved her money problems. That’s the way the script was written, the movie made. And then what? See my earlier note.
If you were to separate the logline into sections and identify the most compelling aspect of it, the thing that would make someone interested…”Hounded by debt collectors” does not win that prize. It may be the “hook” in the sense that it’s the situation a reader or viewer finds compelling, but without an equally compelling protagonist, it means nothing.
If the logline read “Hounded by debt collectors, a rather average person becomes a debt collector herself” – who would care? The fact she starts doing the thing being done to her is not what’s interesting. People respond to CHARACTERS, because characters are people and so are we. The hook of your logline is the brassy small-time hustler. It doesn’t necessarily matter, at first, what she’s involved in; SHE’S the reason to read the script!
It’s why we have movie stars — getting a big name above the title is what makes people want to see the movie. Do you remember what Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper” was about? I don’t! Most of the people who went to see it had no idea what it was about! They just saw ads with The Rock blowing up shit and said yeah, I wanna see that!
So don’t think of your hook as being the story element that’s most compelling…your hook is the thing that makes people interested. No one cares about a bank robbery as a conflict, but when a clown robs a bank…that’s interesting! Then they cast Bill Murray and we get Quick Change.
So in this particular case, tell me you have a brassy small-hustler, and I’m already interested in what she’s doing, what’s happening to her. If what you tell me next is compelling and filled with conflict, I’m in! I want to know more! That’s what the logline is for.
A strong character is nearly always more compelling than their conflict, though ideally the combination is what really sells the concept. You say that sometimes the situation is more of a hook than the person dealing with it — yes, sometimes. But rarely. We’re talking Jurassic Park level conflict here. Most of the time you’re gonna want to introduce a compelling character, then tell us what their conflict is. You have a compelling character and a good introduction — don’t hold her back, put her up front!
I mentioned this in my post, which is still under Latest News And Notices as The Case For An Updated Formula — most movies introduce their characters prior to their conflicts. A logline should do the same, or you’re weakening interest in your story. If you wouldn’t write the script that way, don’t write the logline that way.