I usually check DoneDealPro every day to see what's selling. I came across this logline for a Tom Cruise flick, and it just drove me batty.
An American tourist finds his life on the line when an agent from Interpol uses him as bait to beat out a criminal. The agent is a woman and once had an affair with the criminal.
We've spoken about loglines before and acknowledge that whatever use they serve - query letters, for example - they rarely if ever are why the particular script you're reading about has sold. So much more has to happen for a studio to shell out the big bucks to buy a script and turn it into a production than a one or two sentence logline can accomplish. In fact, most loglines I read on DDP are probably written after the sale just as a quick description of the project, and can therefore suck.
But let's look at the one above a bit more closely. Loglines, at least the ones we're writing in the League, should give the basic premise or theme of the picture, an idea of the protagonist, and, if you're successful at it, make someone want to read your script. Ok, so, how does this particular one stack up?
An American tourist finds his life on the line when an agent from Interpol uses him as bait to beat out a criminal.
Not bad. Kind of interesting. I get the sense that we're seeing this poor American dude running around Europe, camera dnagling from his neck, and bad guys and bad agents chase him from Paris to Rome. Cool. I could get behind that. Then, I read on.
The agent is a woman and once had an affair with the criminal.
Does anyone else feel like they just ran into a brick wall? First of all, the sentence is just dull. Dead. Lifeless. You only get maybe two sentences to describe your masterpiece. The both need to POP. "The agent is a woman and...." makes me want to go to sleep. Where's the action in this sentence? The past? Boo. Also, it throws a wrench into my idea of this schmuck running around Europe when all he wants to do is take a picture of a really old castle. Poor guy. He's doing all the running, and he's no longer even the most interesting character in these two sentences. He manages to be trumped by a sleeper of a sentence. Logline fail.
I figured I'd take a stab at reworking this just very basically, rearranging a few words and cutting a few. Obviously, I don't know too much about the script, so I'm not changing any elements of the logline. I just tried to make it pop a little more.
An American tourist finds his life on the line when a female Interpol agent uses him to bait out a criminal she once had an affair with.
It's still not perfect, but I think it reads better.