I’m trying to write a script for a short film. Not a native speaker so I need help with writing my logline. Struggling with her economic situation, a lonely melancholic woman gets a one-day job to watch over a man with Alzheimer’s . Turns out that this man is her ex-husband who she got separated from 20 years ago, after their young child died.
>> Turns out that this man is her ex-husband..
Interesting. After what duration of the film is this information revealed? Since it is a one day job, I’m guessing it is the Inciting event. If it isn’t, that needs to be clear.
Since we don’t know what she must do after the discovery, It’s hard to imagine what could be holding her back (the conflict). While the death of their child and separation is important for the narrative, it remains a passive information for the logline (unless it feeds into the conflict). Stories don’t exist without Conflict. Conflicts don’t exist without Goal. What becomes her goal after discovering his identity?
More importantly, how is your film being played out on screen when he would have trouble remembering her? It could be good conflict. If their relation is narrated through her memories, the form of the film changes, and so does your logline.
First of all, I find this story idea intriguing.
As for the logline
What is the main conflict in the story?
Your logline should revolve around the main conflict.
Does the main conflict revolve around the lead characters struggle with her economic situation?
Does the main conflict revolve around the death of the child?
Or does it revolve around her ex’s loss of memory due to Alzheimer’s disease?
And once we know what the main conflict is, the next question will be…
What is the lead character’s goal?
Now that the lead character finds herself in this situation, what does the lead character want? What does, resolution look like, in the mind of the lead character.
In my checklist, the story hook is the most necessary element to having a winning logline. And the story hook for this film project is a great one. Strip away the superfluous information and the logline might be:
A destitute woman takes the only job she can find, caring for a man with Alzheimer’s, only to discover he’s the husband who abandoned her 20 years ago.
Though this logline may be lacking in strict logical conformity to the standard formula, I suggest it more than compensates with a story hook that is loaded with emotional turmoil. And as the great director Billy Wilder used to say: “Don’t give me the logic, give me the emotion .”
The discovery is a story twist that immediately escalates the dramatic tension. And it places her in a dramatic dilemma, trapped between her dramatic need (money to subsist) and her want (to have nothing to do with him). And it implicitly raises a dramatic question replete with irony: will she abandon her job to take care of the man who now needs her most, the man who abandoned his marriage to her when she needed him most?
I do have one suggestion in respect to the dramatic question. Even though it’s a short film covering (I presume) only one day, I suggest the actual time span of the job be left open ended. Thus, the dramatic question to be answered at the end of the film would be: will she quit after one day? Or will she do what he didn’t, fulfill her marriage vow to have and to hold, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do them part?
This is a film I want to see. I want to know what she finally decides. Very best wishes with your project!