Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Logline Central - The Returned

Logline Central is an irregular segment that takes a deeper look at loglines of scripts or projects that have just been purchased, as listed on DoneDealPro.
It's been a while since we've had a Logline Central post (it's actually been over 3 months - whoops). To kick things off again, let's take a look at THE RETURNED. 

Title: The Returned
Logline: A woman works in a hospital's special unit where patients need daily vaccines to prevent the development of a terrible virus.
Hatem Khraiche
Genre: Horror Drama 
More: Julio Fernandez will produce. Carlos Fernandez will executive produce. Manuel Carballo will direct. 

My initial reaction is that the above isn't a logline, so much as the germ of an idea - a concept. Patients need daily vaccines to prevent the spread (development?) of a virus. Ok. Let's assume that the protagonist is this woman - based on the info provided, that's where we're told to focus; the only other option is that one of her patients is a protagonist, and that the antagonist is someone who might want this virus to develop unhindered. 

The info provided doesn't tell us a whole lot. It doesn't indicate what the virus could do if left to grow and reproduce. It doesn't say how quickly it can spread or how it's transmitted. All of that, though, is secondary to something else, something much more critical. Am I the only one left wondering - what's the story? The woman works in this hospital and administers vaccines on a daily basis. But are the vaccines running out? Are the patients no longer responding to the shots? Have people beyond the walls of the hospital started showing symptoms? What is the movie actually about?

Granted, with any "loglines" pertaining to something that's sold or been optioned, you have to take the info with a grain of salt. This is information that is put out there by the parties involved - the producers, studio, production company, and/or writer's reps - with the purpose of generating further buzz about their project. Sometimes, a sale will get logged before it's a done deal, just to entice other investors. Still, we unproduced writers look to these as industry standards by which we should model our own output. My advice: don't craft a logline like the one above if you're querying your material to producers or agents or managers or all of the above. Give that one extra bit of info that tells us what the story is about; A woman who works in a hospital administering vaccines to patients in order to prevent the outbreak of a terrible flesh-eating virus, discovers that the vaccination supply is about to run out. 
The revised logline does two things; it provides a bit more information on what the virus is or can do, and it tells you what the story is about, why it is happening now. We know that if more vaccinations don't show up soon, all the patients are going to be consumed by the virus. Alternatively, we know to expect this to turn into a horror movie where fleshless "zombies" walk around attacking other people.
Hatem Khraiche has some short-film credits on imdb and a feature in the works. I would need to know more about THE RETURNED before paying $12.50 for it.