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.

    Samurai Posted on December 16, 2019 in Comedy.
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      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.”

      Singularity Answered on December 16, 2019.

      I was looking for the ghost costume to be a symbolic rejection from society, so I was looking for the “entrapment” to seem like a mob consisting of all of society is doing this to him… probably including the people he’s been trying to ingratiate himself with. If it’s just some outside mystical creature/person, I think it loses a lot. So, I can replace “society” with something like that? “When a man seeking popularity is forced into a cursed ghost costume by those he’s admired … ” … I’m not sure if defining that really makes someone want to watch the movie more though, does it?

      on December 16, 2019.
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        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…

        fwiw

        Singularity Answered on December 16, 2019.

        Well, ultimately my gut reaction to that is that it seems too obvious and… it’s gotta have been done a bunch of times, no?  I just wouldn’t want to fight for that story.

        Ultimately I wanted this logline to be more of a setup for a film (entitled “Ghosted”) where people get collectively “ghosted” like this, and ultimately learn the benefits of living apart from society.  Reality gets flipped, where suddenly being “ghosted” becomes an elite status.  But the logline at least describes the setup and the hero’s initial goal.  I think there’s plenty of irony there, however, but I guess you’re saying it doesn’t help unless it’s captured in a logline.

        on December 16, 2019.
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          Scott Danzig:

          >>> 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.

          Singularity Answered on December 16, 2019.

          Hmm… I thought I’d be somewhat more successful at writing a logline by using the generator, but it doesn’t seem that way.  I don’t think I’ve written a logline yet that hasn’t earned a downvote.  It gets discouraging.

          I included that “live independently” because I clicked the “include character arc”.  I don’t know how to make character arc visible, but I’m assuming you’re not expecting that.

          The objective goal it does say should be visual… I thought the goal of “remove the ghost costume” would qualify.  But I can also replace the ghost costume with “cursed with invisibility”” or “turned into a ghost”…

          Yes, the ghost costume definitely is contrived.  It’s a play on words for what society is doing to the protagonist… ghosting him.  The fact that it’s an actual ghost costume is a fantasy element that I thought would be a nice way to drive home the point of what’s happening.   I don’t know how to respond to “contrived” for that.  I can see if I had the audience already make some other leap… this “ghosting curse” is the only thing I’m asking them to accept though, and it’s not an ultra-realistic film.

          I looked up logline of The Hot Chick to see what they did.  Definitely no character arc there, but… something like this doesn’t seem like enough:

          When a man seeking popularity is ritualistically turned into a ghost, he must find a way to remove the curse before he’s forever forgotten.

          The main difference I think is that with The Hot Chick, there’s clear irony, and in my logline, the irony is hidden.  How about the reverse of what you proposed?

          When a man who just wants to be left alone is ritualistically turned into a ghost, he must find a way to remove the curse before he’s forever forgotten.

          My story still might be able to work that way.  It does seem rather close to  those stories where someone dies and learns to appreciate life though (and they wake up and are alive again, somewhat like the Christmas Carol).  What do you think?

          on December 16, 2019.
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            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.

            Singularity Answered on December 16, 2019.

            Hey Mike, thanks for the feedback.  I do agree that there’s a lot less conflict with a story of a popularity-seeker becoming super popular, but, your suggestion of him meeting other people that have been “removed” is exactly what I’m going for.  I definitely would have fun with that, and it’s along the lines of the “Interstate 60” type of fantasy adventure format I was going for.  Figuring out how to include that part in the logline is one thing I’m having trouble with.

            When I mentioned the “ghost costume”, I didn’t mean it as a normal costume, with latches or something to keep it on.  It’s just an aesthetic that the audience might interpret humorously initially, but realize the gravity of importance later.  It’s the same thing as one of those characters that’s “removed from the world of the living”.  I wanted to craft this “ousting” as if a group of people who represented society as a whole snuck into his room at night and “rejected him” this way.  I wasn’t going to make it explicit who exactly that group was, but figured I could explain some of it later when he meets some of those “fellow removed people”.  At first I had it so it was a way society got rid of the “annoying people who didn’t fit in”, and then I’d make it so that by the end of the story, he was happy on his own and society is largely wanting to be part of this new society.

            I wanted to have it as an allegory to state of our hyper-connected world (where no one has privacy).  I’m not sure if I can do that if I make it “recluse gets to be more alone, but then realizes being with the world is good, but then after learning to cope, the rest of the world wants to be alone too”.  It gets complicated/muddy that way, so I’d likely not be able to do that, and the story doesn’t really fit the theme I was hoping for.  It could be that he convinces society to follow him though.  He brings them to his side one by one, as people want to embrace a more peaceful world where people can live apart when they want to.  It’s not exactly straightforward, but I might be able to come up with a good logline for that?

            I really do like time dilation in stories.  That could be a way a “deadline” could manifest.  One thing I’m iffy about though, is, it’s a “second magic thing”.  We already have the audience believing that someone can be made invisible.  With the time dilation, it’s… oh yeah, here’s another effect that’s… kind of unrelated.  It’s another leap that is perhaps unnecessary, unless, it’s explained that they’re shoved into a different reality, with a different timeline.  Will consider that!  And I could have a more tangible initial goal, like finding the mystical floating orb that will give him his freedom.  I’m honestly not sure how much that helps past giving the audience a bit more hope/direction than a “find the way”, since they’ll know a solution DOES exist.

            My main concern right now is making the irony work.  I definitely agree with dpg that it’s important.  I guess Interstate 60’s logline doesn’t mention any irony though… the hook seems to be focusing on “a journey on an unknown highway”.  Maybe focusing on the sense of adventure, discovering the other ghosts, is enough and the irony is just a bonus.

            on December 17, 2019.
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              Scott:

              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.

              fwiw

              Singularity Answered on December 17, 2019.

              Yeah, I recognize the value of the elevator pitch.  Even shorter than that for a logline. That’s why I’m on this site in the first place.

              My dirty secret since first logging onto this site… I think 4-5 years ago… is that I was making the mistake of trying to come up with a logline after a script was written.  That in combination with not being very experienced with loglines in general meant I inevitably gave up, but still made the film anyway… I haven’t really had to sell it, although wanted to get better at doing so, because I knew eventually I’d want to try a feature, and wouldn’t want that to be all out of pocket.

              So now I’m trying for a feature, and nothing is written yet except maybe ten lines with ideas which I’m confident enough can make a full-length story.  I know the basic elements within those ten lines that interest me, but I feel it’s still pretty wide open.  I think there isn’t much new here, so I’m leaning on examples that have worked.  Hot Chick for the “transformation”, “Interstate 60” for the “adventure/low fantasy”, and I’m even thinking “Being John Malkovich” is way more crazy than a ghost costume.  I don’t think actually mentioning a ghost costume is important in the logline, as per your point… I can just focus on the effect.  And it seems as per Mike’s point, I can probably strengthen the hook by mentioning the other ghosts:

              When a popularity-seeker is ambushed by society’s elite, ritualistically made a ghost so he could no longer pester them, he must find and unite with other outcast ghosts in order to break the curse, before the sunrise makes it permanent.

              If I want the ironic punishment too, I can do something like:

              When a misanthrope is ambushed by society’s elite, ritualistically made a ghost because he never fit in anyway, he must find and unite with other outcast ghosts in order to break the curse, before the sunrise makes it permanent.

              But that doesn’t ring as true to me.  I feel enough people would be amused enough at a “Revenge of the Ghosts” concept.

              on December 17, 2019.
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