I am giving myself an easy task to fulfill in writing this week’s message. It addresses another challenge I encountered in submitting my screenplay, Angel Unaware, to a script writing contest; drafting the requisite logline. The problem is that I was totally ignorant of what a logline is.
My remedy, as in all things pertaining to script writing, was to consult The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier. Piecing together his various statements I found a logline to be a concise summary of the script (concise meaning one sentence), containing four components; character, action, opposition, resolution. It is a simple formula but as with all formulas pertinent to the creative environs, it must be stated in a provocative manner. It is, after all, meant to be the hook, which prompts the reader to delve further into your masterpiece.
My management brain is always lurking beneath these creative endeavors. It tells me from my experience drafting mission statements about the nature of concision. I learned long ago to eschew the normal attempt to write lengthy, noble sounding mission statements in order to keep it brief, eight words or less being the proposed best solution. And once again there is a formula to follow. This one entails action verb, direct object and outcome. For example, my mission in following the requirements of the screenwriting contest was to: write a logline that pops.
Another point of intrusion by my management mentality relates to writing grant applications. An effective appeal uses the jargon of the donor. Applied to the script writing contest this meant knowing the character of the competition’s sponsor and being aware of the words they use in stating the guidelines for participation. Forearmed with all this knowledge, I drafted my logline for the contest sponsored by MovieGuide.
MovieGuide is a Christian organization. Their contest is called the Kairos Prize. In classical Greek the word kairos was used to indicate a moment in time when a decision had to be made to insure an idea’s success. It was in fact considered to be the supreme moment for a person to act and it was taught by the philosophers that a truly informed person “rarely misses the expedient course of action.” Similarly in the orthodox tradition there is a moment before the Divine Liturgy begins when a deacon whispers to the priest, Kairos tou poiesai to Kyrio, “It is the supreme moment for the Lord to act.”
Submitting my screenplay for consideration by the judges of the Kairos Prize was certainly my supreme moment to act as a script writing novitiate. Here is my logline for Angel Unaware as submitted to this specific contest.
Faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior transformed Dale Evans’ celebrity status from Queen of the West to pioneering advocate for those with developmental challenges. This is her story.
As you know, if you’ve been following this series of messages, my script did not make the first cut of being a semifinalist. Since I did not pay the extra fee to receive a critique of my work, I am clueless about the nature of my failure. But that is inconsequential to this message about drafting a longline that produces favorable results. And in a contest where there is a guarantee that every script will be read at least once, the effectiveness of any given logline is subject to doubt as the hook is not needed, when compared to a cold sale to a producer or agent. Still….
My second contest submission for Angel Unaware was to ScreenCraft. Their competition is promoted as family oriented, with an invitation to submit scripts that are faith based, but not necessarily Christian. This more secular arena prompted a rewrite of the logline as compared to the version submitted to MovieGuide. I considered my protagonist, Dale Evans, from the view point of what might appeal to a more jaded audience – the audience being that elusive producer or agent with a strong profit motive. Here is the version submitted with my script to the ScreenCraft competition.
Teen mom, abused wife and unemployed actress describe the life of Dale Evans before she gave birth to a daughter with Down syndrome and discovered the presence of an angel unaware.
I won’t know if my work has fared any better with ScreenCraft than it did with MovieGuide until they announce their choices for quarterfinalists. This occurs February 1. In the meantime, I am working on another script. Here is the logline to my next screenplay with the working title In My Father’s House.
Arrested for hiding Jews, Dutch sisters Betsie and Corrie ten Boom lived the virtues learned in their father’s house to bring the light of God’s love into the darkness of a Nazi contrived Hell.
You can decide if this attempt at a concise summary of the story fulfills my logline writing mission and bodes well for my future as a writer of feature films.