In 1961, a British double agent, assigned to stop a uranium smuggling operation run by a secret organization of Nazis, falls for the chief Nazi’s fiancee.
Hey everyone. I’m hoping to put this up on the Blacklist again soon (after a rewrite and several loglines later). Bear in mind I’m using the formula from here and two other formulas as well. I’m also trying to stay as lean as possible.
SERIES LOGLINE: (for 8 episode limited series)
“In 1961, a British double agent teams up with the socialite wife of a Nazi war criminal to thwart an underground organisation of Nazis but is unsure if he can trust her.”
(Is it too vague regarding their plan?)
Formula 1. (when major event happens, hero must do main action). from logline.it.
Major event: When a British double agent teams up with the socialite fiancée of a Nazi war criminal.
The hero must do main action: Take down an underground organisation of Nazis.
Formula 2. (title is a genre about protagonist who must (the goal) or else disaster will happen if doesn’t succeed).
Masquerade is a spy thriller about a British double agent who must thwart an underground organisation of Nazis.
Now – I’m very much hoping that the stakes/the disaster that will happen if he doesn’t succeed is innate with the line “underground organisation of Nazis” and it goes without saying they are up to no-good.
I very much want to keep this lean. (My MacGuffin is smuggling uranium, not unlike “Notorious”. The other big influence for this was “La Piscine” which is about a deadly love triangle/rectangle).
Again, hopefully it’s innate but the protagonist is trying to take down the same men he was undercover with and thwarted from his war years. It will explore the “necessary evils” he had to perform undercover. In this logline, I’m trying to make sure he doesn’t come across as a) a nazi or b) not very proactive.
Formula 3. A logline must have…
Who the story is about… Double agent.
What he strives for… Thwart nazis.
What stands in his way… Nazis. Nazi war criminal. Socialite fiancee. Himself (as in his carnal desires/emotions, etc.)
Okay. Now… the pilot logline….
PILOT LOGLINE: (using logline.it/formula 1)
“When a British double agent is assigned to take down a suspected Nazi war criminal, he seduces his daughter but soon begins to fall in love with his suspicious fiancee.”
Formula 2: Masquerade is a spy thriller about a British double agent who must entrap a suspected Nazi war criminal.
Who… British double agent.
Strives for… Taking down Nazi.
Stands in his way… Two women. Himself (his carnal desires). The Nazi war criminal.
(Admittedly, I chopped “1961” so you might immediately think the Nazi war criminal is in his 90s. But at the same time, you’re quite likely to read this one the same time you read the series logline).
Quick synopsis of first episode. (without giving away their names)
For the first ten pages – it should be an act of discovery. We find out this mysterious rich playboy is a spy… then we find out he’s not in love with this girl but seducing her to get closer to her father… then we find out he’s falling for the fiancee… (then we find out it might be a double bluff and he’s doing some manipulating, etc.)… then we find he’s being manipulated… then we find out he’s in more in control then he lets on…
A British double agent seduces the daughter of a wealthy American expatriate, a suspected Nazi war criminal.
He is soon invited to stay for the weekend – as a means to get closer. However, once there – he begins to fall in love with the Nazi war criminal’s fiancee, a French trophy wife (with a past life as a prostitute as well as a war hero, she too is a great puppet master and actress). As the agent gets closer, the expatriate begins to recognise him but is unable to place him…
Not only that, the agent is blackmailed by his colleague who threatens to expose his existence to the same underground Nazis they are trying to entrap. It now seems his colleague has other plans and seems to be playing another game (or – this could be a bluff). (Also, no surprise, this is the midpoint/point of no return.)
The agent reveals to the trophy wife that he is after her soon-to-be husband and that her husband was a double agent (for the Germans and still is). Though the trophy wife, at first, protects him. She later reveals his identity to her fiancé.
The expatriate forces her to seduce the agent as a means to get information on who, why, etc…
However, it turns out (telling her in the hopes she’d reveal his identity to her fiancee) was part of the agent’s master plan. A double bluff. His plan is not to move closer to them, but for them to move closer to him… (CUT TO BLACK/END OF PILOT – but not before a quick flashback that reveals how the Expatriate recognises the Agent).
And so begins a dangerous game where it seems everyone has a hidden agenda, where alliances change, and loyalties are tested…
(Think: The Talented Mr Ripley meets La Piscine meets Notorious).
Okay. What does everyone think?
thwart an underground organisation of Nazis smuggling uranium (I mention that earlier – but again, I want to keep things lean. The uranium is just a MacGuffin).
I know I’m sacrificing specificity. Also, my best hope is that there are innate stakes in mentioning “underground organisation of Nazis”.
Beg to differ. The uranium smuggling is not an insignificant element that can be omitted in the logline. “Uranium” is a vital MacGuffin to the plot. To not reveal it is to make the mistake of “hiding the game ball”, as Blake Snyder of “Save the Cat!’ fame phrased it.
At that point in post-WW2 history, there were two reasons for the existence of a secret post-war Nazi organization: 1] To enable Nazi’s wanted for war crimes to evade capture and justice; 2} To engage in a nefarious conspiracy of some sort. Well, which is it?
The logline line needs to indicate which of the two is pertinent to the plot and in the latter case, the object of the conspiracy.
Your new logline is 32 words long. It can be trimmed. For example, ‘socialite’ can go; it’s extraneous to the logline, less important to know than the nature of the conspiracy.
Based upon my understanding of the story, here’s my 21 word version:
In 1961, a British double agent teams up with the Nazi war criminal’s wife to thwart her husband’s uranium smuggling operation.
You seem adamant about slipping in the relationship in addition to the plot goal. My sense is that the relationship will be more interesting than the pursuit of the objective goal. The love relationship must be good news-bad news . It must present a potential way to fulfill the objective goal — as well as a complication that could defeat his purpose and cost him his life (and hers, too).
In 1961, when a British spy falls for an ex-Nazi’s fiancee, he jeopardizes his assignment to thwart the ex-Nazi’s uranium smuggling operation.
This version more directly personalizes the conflict. It’s focus on agent versus the ex-Nazi, not the agent versus a faceless organization. Obviously, if he defeats the ex-Nazi, he take down the ex-Nazi’s organization too.
In 1961, when a British spy falls for a Nazi’s fiancee, he jeopardises his assignment to thwart the Nazi’s uranium smuggling operation.
Dpg – After a recent rewrite, I’ve found the relationship to be integral. I think I’ll go with your recent one. It ticks all the boxes. I’ll be putting this up on the Blacklist soon – I’m curious to see what logline my reviewer gives it. Thank you for your contributions and endless support. Also, I might put up this new one to see what people think.
Ckharper – I do as well. Hmm. Well. He’s a double agent turned traitor/Nazi war criminal. Ex-Nazi makes sense. It is a bit more complicated because he is a pawn/something of a puppet. But with marketing – I do need to keep things simple.
You’re right. It does declutter it. I must admit doing a logline for a series that hasn’t been written and having done a pilot where you’re holding out on plot developments/surprises – doing the series logline is quite hard (I know it shouldn’t be). But yeah – we’ll go with Nazi. For clarity and leanness and for marketing the thing.
As for the pilot, I might go with yours too.
“In 1961, a retired spy living the highlife on the French Riviera, must return to his old dangerous games to catch a Nazi war criminal”.
But I’ll tweak it and use this one…
“In 1961, a British spy must return to his old dangerous games to catch a Nazi war criminal living on the French Riviera”.
(As I’ve rewritten the pilot, he’s a bit more mysterious. I know FR is a little redundant – but I’m so damn sure that’s a selling point.)
I hate going with someone else’s but one cannot let their ego get in the way of progress. After a few months of logline work – I really need to get these things sent off.
Okay cheers everyone.