Screenwriting : Pitching and log lines by Ann Burr

Ann Burr

Pitching and log lines

Can someone please tell me how to pitch a screenplay and what does a Log line include. I know it's to be short and sweet, to the point. I am so new at this and trying to absorb it all in.

Danny Manus

Oh man. okay, that is NOT how to pitch. And you really have to work on your English a bit more and have someone rewrite and work on your pitch so that it reads much more coherently. As to how to pitch, this isn't something that can or should be answered in a couple sentences on a board. there are great books, classes, tons of articles out there on pitching including my own. go find them. read them. study them. pitching isn't hard but YOU need to do the legwork. And the number 1 rule of pitching is - if you're so new that you don't know anything about pitching and loglines then you're not ready to be pitching or worried about pitching yet. check out my blogs on pitching and check out Good in a Room. That will at least give you a start.

Danny Manus

Dhiraj - pls do yourself a favor and don't send that out. the bit about contests alone is an automatic pass. and I have no idea what a pidgeon is that youre referring to. the bird?

Cherie Grant

Thanks Dhiraj. VERY entertaining.

Ami Brown

It would be nicer if we only posted comments to answer the question being asked. Ann, there are lots of great tutorials on Youtube and guides to assist you with the logline. You can post your logline, then people can make comments to help you make it cleaner or better. Here is a video that shows people actually pitching their movies to Michael Weis, so you can see how it's done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqVhVPmKcA0

Ian Lynch

A logline is pretty simple. Here's my logline formula: put these three things into one sentence (use two sentences if you really need it): 1) Who/where the protagonist is in his/her life at the start of the story, 2) What he/she wants to obtain or achieve, and 3) what is standing in his/her way. In my opinioin, if your story concept is good enough, your logline will sound interesting from following this formula. But that's just one person's opinion, everyone has their own method.

Niksa Maric

You can take a look at mine, posted here. This is how it should look like but as for pitching, you have a long way before you get there, usually it's 1-3 pages long, describes details of your movie and as far as I know, it's done in front of the studio people. I could be wrong about this but this is what I've been told. I hope it helps, if not send me a message and I'll get you some links so you can check.

Danny Manus

I am not going to address this rude inconsiderate clueless "writer", but in efforts to help Ann and other writers who actually deserve help.. There are many ways to pitch. it depends on the situation, what you're pitching and to whom. But as someone who has taken over 3000 pitches as an executive and consultant (did ya hear that number Dhiraj?), the most important elements of a great pitch are knowing your story inside and out, what your hook is, putting your story in context so execs can understand your story and how it can sell, why we will like your character and root for them to accomplish their goal, and where the conflict and visual Trailer moments are. I often suggest starting with about 45 seconds about you, what makes you stand out, writing experience, or what connects you to your story. then title, genre, logline and comparison movies. then just tell them a story with beginning middle and end highlighting the major trailer moments that will allow them to understand and picture your movie. For people who think consultants don't help for free, they're dead wrong. we help constantly. we post in forums, we tweet tips all day, and we write Free articles on these topics that any idiot could find by Googling. The reason we don't answer every question in these forums is bc you're looking for short cuts. Do the damn legwork, the research, the reading, the classes. We charge for things because my 12 years of experience is worth something. And because no one OWES you an answer to all your questions. Especially if we are going to get attacked by clueless assholes like Dhiraj who with an attitude like that will never make it. for everyone else, I hope this helped. Lee Jessup and I are holding a 1-Day intensive in LA on July 19th where we will both be teaching and critiquing pitches as part of the day!

Cherie Grant

Did you read that Danny? Pull your head out man!

Niksa Maric

I wasn't following the entire conversation from the beginning but I can tell you 1 thing. That guy is some peace of work. Does he even reads his own words before posting it. A Script consultant? Which is what exactly? And sure, it's easy to kick someone who's down. Just wait for a few days when I start splitting 10 steps from "Stairway to Heaven" - Introduction post. I'm gonna ask some very unpleasant questions regarding SCRIPT CONSULTANT or PROOFREADING as they call it. Just wait and let's see how he responds to that. Isn't this supposed to be a place where we all share things and helping each other. And as for you DHIRAJ, stop calling RONNIE or anybody else IMMATURE, what's wrong with you. So what if someone told you, some things in your script need to be changed. Change it and move on. You can't possibly think you're PERFECT. Flash news for you, there's no such thing as PERFECT HUMAN BEING or SCRIPT for that matter. There newer was and never will be, plain and simple. You're welcome, by the way!

Danny Manus

My frustrations are only with the likes of you Dhiraj. With writers who can barely be understood when they write but who THINK they know but really have no clue and when a professional tries to help and give guidance, you insult them! My 12 years working in Hollywood and having read many Thousands of scripts, having worked on numerous films, having had almost 1000 writer clients as a consultant - I'm not sure why on earth I would be Jealous of YOU!? you're delusional. And this business has nothing to do with God. He's not the one running shit in Hollywood.

Danny Manus

But you calling someone ELSE immature or unprofessional or frustrated is basically the funniest thing I've ever heard. take a look at your own comments, Sir.

Niksa Maric

Danny, Danny, Danny! Now, that's not nice. Calling people who pay your bills a "Sewage Workers" I wonder what some of them might think about your post. Did I mentioned I have a Snapshot. Oops!

Derek Ladd

Well that escalated quickly.

Niksa Maric

And I don't even know what the BIG DEAL about this "SCRIPT" is? If it's not good, rewrite it, move on!

Demiurgic Endeavors

@Danny You just posted this. "You see because I'm already a JUDGE for the contest and you are a writer who won't get past the first round. I wasn't being insulting, I was being honest. Your written pitch was poorly written. I'm not sure where you get off personally insulting me, but its probably not a smart idea to piss off the very judges who may be reading your script or the professionals you're so desperate to get read By. But I wish you luck with your project. please let us know when you win. I'll be here not holding my breath." You acknowledged knowing a participant in a contest you're a judge in and told the writer prior to entering he would not get past the first round. You also violated one of the rules of the Page Awards contest. (PLEASE NOTE: As our judging process is anonymous, please include only the title of your script on your title page. Your name and contact information should not appear anywhere on the title page or within the body of your script. When we receive your entry, we will assign your script a number and the Judges will identify your screenplay solely by its title and script number.) I foresee serious litigation if something isn't done immediately. You already compromised the integrity of the contest.

Danny Manus

Oh please. People, you're all taking this way too far. First off, he has a SCI-FI script and I am a judge for the horror/thriller category, so I would never have ANY connection to HIS script. Second, as you pointed out, it IS anonymous and judges NEVER see the writers name before were anything so it wouldnt matter anyway! And I do not know or talk to whomever might be judging any other category. It's all blind. And third of all, I am a PROFESSIONAL and I would NEVER be that small or vindictive to cause a writer problems in a contest. I said He won't make it past the first round because his writing is AWFUL . That's the only reason! So CALM DOWN! And to Niksa, I'm not sure who you are, but Dhiraj is not paying my bills. Nor are you. Nor did I ever call anyone a sewage worker. I'm not sure where you got that from. You can attack me - that's fine. I'm a big boy. But I am only responding to his personal and unprofessional posts. Which I will not be doing anymore.

Niksa Maric

A Sewage Worker? Where did I get that? What was it you wrote? “He's not the one running shit in Hollywood.” So who is, You? Who am I? Who am I is not important but if I were you, I would be afraid, I would be very afraid because you have no idea what some of us SMALL PEOPLE can do, BIG BOY. Now I can only imagine what would happen to you if your posts turn up on every possible Contest web site and that’s only 1 click away, everything you wrote here today. Then, let’s see what happens? As for Dhiraj Bakshi I’m sure he’s already sorry about what he wrote. This is not a threat, not even a promise Denny, it’s a FACT. Is any of this on anyway unclear to you?

Danny Manus

First off "Running Shit" is a turn of phrase. It's a saying. It has nothing to do with sewage. It means "being in charge". If you don't know what something means in English, don't comment about it. Second, if you ever threaten me again in any way, you will be kicked off this site so fast you won't even know what hit you. IS THAT UNCLEAR TO YOU? Have some respect. Hollywood is a small community. Executives talk, consultants talk.

Danny Manus

To everyone else, I heartily apologize that this thread was hijacked by nastiness and vitriol and turned so ugly and for my part in it. I should not have gotten involved and should have just answered the original question. Think of this as my Gary Oldman apology. I will not address Dhiraj or Niksa in this thread any longer, I suggest everyone else do the same. And we just get back to the point of this site - which is to learn, create, and connect. Thank you.

Cherie Grant

I don't know why some people get twisted knickers. I've found this highly entertaining. I think it's high time people moved on from loglines though and started talking about their scripts!

Niksa Maric

Is that the best you can come up with? Okay, two things you need to know about EX Military. 1. When they go to war, they are prepared to die. 2. They die so others wouldn't have to. Let's find out what that means in VIRTUAL REALITY since I have no intention to travel 6,372 miles to tell you in person you're wrong!

Tony McFadden

I love Stage32. There are many, many people offering sound advice to those of us just starting out in the film business. Unfortunately there are a few who feel they know everything, demean everyone and add nothing to the site. A "block" feature would be a great addition.

Niksa Maric

If you're referring to a few words exchanged here by me, I apologize. I'm done talking to that guy, which wasn't even my fight in the first place.

Kevin Fukunaga

Hi Ann, I just posted an article on loglines this morning if you're interested. Has answers for a couple FAQ and some industry pro logline reviews so you can see what works and what doesn't. Best of luck with your logline! http://www.scriptsandscribes.com/2014/06/breakdown-loglines/

Derek Ladd

Who else could go for some flapjacks right now?

Ann Burr

well that was an interesting little hijacking. For those who actually gave advise-Thank you. To the ones who decided to have a pissing match-Really?

Ann Burr

Keven Fukunaga_Thank you. I just read the article you posted. Very informative. Just what I was looking for.

Theresa Chaze

A tagline is very short. An example: Love and hate survive death. Log lines are short one sentence pitches that should create an interest. You shouldn't try to tell the story. An example: If you were given a second chance, would you choose love...or revenge? They should be just enough to get the reader to go to the next level. the tagline leads to the log. The log needs to create interest in reading the synopsis. The synopsis should be just enough for them to read the treatment. The treatment should lead to the script.

Patrick Abbott

Good luck Ann and hope you find the best advice for your question. It's a shame people couldn't stick to the question, and be professional enough to ignore the detractors and remain on topic. As someone mentioned, this isn't supposed to be a site for pissing contests, but a forum to meet and discuss a common field with like minded individuals. ..as for threats to be kicked off the site, surely that's Rob's job?

Eric Ian Steele

Ann, my best advice is that you do as much research on the subject as you can. Google like crazy about loglines and movie pitches and see what you find. Loglines are the easy part. They just take many edits to get right. As for written pitches, there are tons of info on the web about writing a synopsis. Verbal pitching is the hardest... make that exceedingly hard. Even pros struggle with it. But with a combination of research and practice, you will succeed. As with everything in life, the more you do it, the better you become. Don't be afraid to make a mess of your first verbal pitch. Think of it as a stepping stone on the road to success. I have pitched to several execs via Stage 32 and it's been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done in my writing career. You learn some great lessons just by doing it. So take a look at what the experts say works, then try for yourself, learn the lessons and repeat. One thing I can say is that for verbal pitches, you should memorize your pitch ( I try to keep mine under 500 words). Hope this helps!

Janet Elizabeth Swainston

Wow...so, back on topic...Ann, I don't know what writer sites you are on, but I recommend Triggerstreet. They are helpful and the site is owned/operated by Dana Brunetti and was started by Mr. Brunetti and Kevin Spacey. They have strict rules and you will find LOADS of help from all levels of the industry on all aspects of a script, from beat sheets to loglines to pitches and the scripts themselves. This site is great but it's more for networking (at least from what I've seen) and while that is very important, so is having the best product to show to the industry pros. That's my two cents.

Jeff Cross

The way I've done it at pitchfests is: 1) My credentials in the matter 2) The general concept of the project and any contest honors it's accrued at that point 3) Brief plot summary hitting on major plot points As for logline, that's kind of a one-to-two sentence concept summary.

John McLean

One sentence preferably containing PROTAGONIST, GOAL, and OBSTACLE in any order. Avoid adjectives - pick the essence.

Manuel Joaquin Santiago

Ann; reach out to Joey, he has been very helpful to so many on this site; he's awesome.

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