Wednesday 7 December 2011

Loglines and 'The Black List'

One of the exercises my writing group goes through is that of writing loglines for our screenplay ideas. It's not as easy as it sounds.

Have a look at these examples:
A gang of crooked cops plan a major heist that will require them to shoot a fellow officer in order to get away with it.
A human teenager, a vampire, and a zombie must save a town from an alien invasion.
A bachelor who is dumped by his wingman teams up with a sharp-tongued woman he can't stand in order to meet women.
A young man discovers that the undertaker who recently hired him as a driver is actually a hitman for the mafia.
No, these weren't written by my friends. They were taken from The Black List. That's an annual list of Hollywood's most-liked, unproduced screenplays, which is published on the second Friday of December each year. The Black List began in 2004 as a survey, with contributions from 75 film studio and production company executives. In 2009, over 300 executives contributed their opinion.

Some of the scripts that spent time on The Black List, before being picked up by a producer, include: The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin), The King's Speech (David Seidler), Juno (Diablo Cody), Water for Elephants (Richard LaGravanese), No Strings Attached (Liz Meriwether), The Back-Up Plan (Kate Angelo), Easy A (Bert Royal), Crazy, Stupid, Love (Dan Fogelman), and Snow White and the Huntsman (Evan Daugherty).

It's a good exercise to read through the logline summaries available to outsiders on The Black List website, just to get a feel of what it must be like to be a studio executive facing a flood of submissions. And remember, as you raise your eyebrows at the sight of some of them: these are the good ones, the ones Hollywood insiders liked. For every one you see here, try to imagine another hundred that were far, far worse. At the very least, that should encourage you.

Oh, and the next Black List is due out on December 9, 2011. Maybe we'll see you on it...  

There's a link below to an interview, which has at the bottom a video clip of Franklin Leonard talking about the job of being a reader in the Hollywood system. Interesting. Meanwhile, here's a clip of Franklin Leonard telling the story of how he came to invent The Black List.

No comments: