When a desperate Wisconsin farm wife invites WWII Nazi POWs to work the family orchard, she brings the war home.
What the others have said about properly formulating a logline.
There is certainly rich potential for an original story as there were camps for German POW’s in the United States during World War II and the prisoners were allowed to work in the community, to relieve the shortage of manpower.
Also the story takes place in Wisconsin, a state with a large number of residents descended from German immigrants. So this story could be not just a clash of cultures but also of generations.
More immigrants to the United States came from Germany than from any other country in Europe. But you wouldn’t know it based on the pleothra of films made about other immigrant groups, the paucity of films about the German immigrant experience. I wish you the best with your story idea.
As I am sure you are well aware, many films depart from the characters and plot of the books they are adapted from. This is more than a matter of capricious creative license; it is also a matter of creative necessity as cinema is a different medium than print, with its own conventions and requirements. Including a more imperative commercial requirement: films require a substantially bigger investment of money than books, so in evaluating a book for adaptation, production companies give more weight to the question: what are the chances of the film being a commercial success?
For the purpose of a logline, I’m guessing that the farm wife is the protagonist and the inciting incident is that she persuades her husband to take on some German POW’s as farm hands. (Despite her being strong-willed, he is the titular head of the family, is he not?) Complications ensue, but for the purpose of a logline, I’m guessing her objective goal is to employee the POW’s for only as long as it takes to harvest the summer crops.
Complications ensue. But there is no space within the word constraints of a logline (25-30 words) to list them all. The logline can only state the primary obstacle or person that poses the greatest jeopardy to the protagonist achieving her objective goal. And I’m guessing that is her romantic entanglement with the POW. If that is the case, then that is how the logline needs to be framed.
Also, the logline needs to suggest the stakes. So, come to find out, her husband wasn’t that emotionally attached to the orchard, the farm. What about her? What is her emotional bond to the land. Did she inherit it? Did she urge her husband to hire the POW’s because she’s desperate to hold on to land that is her heritage, in which she has planted deep emotional roots? What, besides a living, does the farm mean to her? The logline needs to suggest her emotional, as well as financial, stake in the farm.
Many executives in Hollywood prefer scripts based on existing IP – a novel would be a great way to gain an executive’s attention. However, the industry has its conventions, one of which is the dreaded logline and the other would be structure.
Of all the events that happen to the main character which one makes her want to invite the POWs to work on the farm? Even if it isn’t in the book, think of expanding the story so it includes a single event that would motivate her to do this.
As a result of her letting the POWs on the farm, what need arises? In other words, what happens that makes her want to achieve a goal? Without a need, or goal, it will be a difficult sell.
It sounds as if the migrant workers’ mass exodus is one catalyst which forces her to take action – get POWs to work on the farm, she then pursues the goal of saving the farm.
This is one story with its own inciting incident, action, and goal, and the love stories could make for great subplots.
However, this could be turned into a family drama by specifying the rape attempt and falling for Karl as the inciting incident, which forces her to take action – keep the family and farm together for the kid’s sake, she then pursues her goal of a relationship with Karl.
This is definitely a good backdrop for a story, it’s just that you have too many subplots competing to be the ‘A’ plot in the film. Which of these do you prefer to write about in the script?