When a man seeking popularity is rejected by society by being forced into a cursed ghost costume, he must learn to live independently in order to remove it before he’s permanently trapped and forgotten.
Who does the forcing?
“When he’s forced to wear a cursed ghost costume by (Santa Clause, or possibly a genie) A man who only seeks the approval of others must now live on his own for (30 days) if he’s to remove the curse and rejoin society.”
It seems to me that the premise overlooks a more interesting option (particularly for a comedy): ironic punishment. That is, punish him by granting him his wish. Overwhelm him with popular support, viral videos, twitter followers, celebrity status, his own spectacularly lucrative product line. He’s hounded by packs of paparazzi, the lead story on TMZ every night — he out-Kardashians the Kardashians, out-Oprahs Oprah, until…
>>> you’re saying ti doesn’t help unless it’s capture in a logline.
Right. Irony is one of the most effective techniques to use in a logline (And in a script)
And again, as Richiev asked, forced into this ghost costume by whom? Who, specifically? And why? When all they have to do is ignore him. For a narcissist hell is to be ignored — that’s the worst punishment of all.
And if the ironic punishment I suggested is too obvious. IMHO the ghost costume feels too contrived. It requires the audience to suspend a lot of disbelief.
>>> at least the logline describes the hero’s initial goal
Beg to differ. “Live independently” is vague. What’s the visual for that? Ditto with “ghost costume”. What does that do? Make him invisible?
And “learn to live independently” –whatever that looks like — belongs to the “lesson learned” trope; it pertains to his subjective character arc. But a logline is not about the character arc. A logline is about what a character does, not how he changes. A logline is a statement of an objective goal, not a lesson to be learned.
Suspending disbelief and buying into the premise that he’s forced to live in a “ghost costume”, what does he, as the protagonist, proactively do about it? What does he embrace, pursue as his objective goal? Not the one forced upon him by others but the one he voluntarily chooses in spite of the one imposed upon him by society.
When Andy Dufresne in “The Shawshank Redemption” is forced to spend the rest of his life in prison, he doesn’t passively go along with the sentence that society (via the jury trial) has imposed upon him. He doesn’t accept their objective goal for him — he starts digging.
Hi Scott, writing loglines is hard. Much harder than people ever give it credit for. Don’t get disheartened though. I actually think your new idea – the MC is turned into a ghost and realises that he doesn’t want to be forgotten – is better – but, initially, he gets exactly what he wants. He wants to be left alone so being turned into a ghost and being left alone is GREAT for him. So why would he want to remove this curse?
I’ll get to that in a bit.
I’m concerned that in this ghost world there would be minimal conflict. He’s a ghost now, how can he interact with people/the world around him? UNLESS, he meets other people who have disappeared into non-existence within this world. Maybe, ghosts aren’t just dead people… maybe they’re people who have simply disappeared from the world. This, to me, is an interesting hook.
If it’s something supernatural-esque (i.e. it’s not him being forced into a costume) then I kinda like the idea of it just being something that happens – there is no cause – similar to Groundhog Day. The alternative is something like he’s cursed or maybe he’s horrible to someone and they pray for him to disappear? Or maybe he wishes it? There’s definitely a “It’s a Wonderful Life” / “A Christmas Carol” vibe. My only concern would be that it’s too similar to the Ghost of Christmas Future bit but I think that could easily be worked on to make it different. For me, the most interesting bit is who else he meets in the ghost realm and how they help him.
So back to the story – At first, he likes living in this ghost realm. He gets exactly what he wants, he’s largely ignored but he still exists. At some point however, he discovers there’s something that he loves about living in the real world that he now can’t do. Maybe he’s a writer and he now can’t do that. Or he loves food, but he can’t eat. Something that he misses that forces him to want to go back to the real world. Then, give him a quest within this world – something external. The only way back to the land of the living is to find something – a physical object. But this quest takes him through his existence and he realises that he doesn’t want to be forgotten. When he finds this object, it’s something that is intrinsic to his life, something with great emotional significance and MOST IMPORTANTLY he needs the help of others in order to get it. He needs to realise the importance of society and why it’s not good to be on his own. This then completes his internal and external arc and BOOM he’s back in the real world.
Here’s where you could mix it up though. The convention is that no time has passed at all. Maybe go another way, and loads of time has passed (maybe this is even something that he is told from a fellow ghost that ups the stakes – “time moves differently down here”). When he comes back, he finds “missing” posters with his name on etc and realises that even though he didn’t want anyone to care about him, they still did.
I’m just throwing ideas out here. Feel feel to disregard all of them.
I think the generator is a great tool to use, however, whilst it does help you understand the different elements, it can’t tell you if what you’ve entered doesn’t quite work. It’s really useful for the format of a logline, but it will give you very little help in crafting a story. My advice in a story of emotional growth is to always think about what the character needs to learn internally and how that can be represented externally. Think visually. What will you see on screen?
The character arc can simply be suggested by the defining characteristic. If you call this guy “anti-social” then there is an immediate assumption that by the end of the film, this will have changed. You can also include something in the action (which I think is what the generator is trying to do) that clues you in to this. For example – “the protagonist must work with other ghosts in order to achieve something”.
I’m going to stop rambling on now, keep going though. Once you get the story elements right, the logline has a habit of falling into place.
Hope this helps.
I’ve been thinking about this exchange and want to clarify a point or two.
I applaud your desire to come with a novel take on a familiar human problem. There’s nothing new under the sun about human nature, so what movie makers are looking for is a fresh perspective, a unique story angle.
But the story premise in a logline must not only be original, it must also be credible. It must not be confusing. It must be easy to understand on the first reading. (Because 99% of the time, a logline will only get one reading. It has 10-12 seconds to grab attention, make complete sense, make someone want to read the script.)
That is an especially tall order for a logline set in an unfamiliar world (SciFi or Fantasy) with a different set of rules than the normal world. Or that entails a story that requires some “movie magic” , a special circumstance that would never occur in the real world. In the case of this logline, that seems to be the existence of a “ghost costume” in which a person can be imprisoned, invisible, isolated from human contact.
So yeah, this premise is caught in a double bind: it’s different — but it’s confusing. That’s how I read it, that’s the concern I have. It didn’t make sense to me on the 1st reading… nor the 2nd… nor the 3rd.
Just saying. Others mileage may vary.