You are waiting for the lift, and lo and behold, standing beside you is Steven Spielberg. He’s also waiting for the lift. The lift car door opens. Both of you step into the lift. You have 30 seconds before Steven Spielberg reaches another 6 floors up to pitch your idea to him. What are you going to tell him?
The above example is an interesting Elevator Pitch version refined in film and television production.
An elevator speech or elevator statement is a short description of an idea, product, or company, explaining the concept in a way that any audience can understand within a very short period. In terms of creative concepts, many people are full of passion and wonderful stories, and they do want to stand out in the fierce competition, especially when they are unable to present their excellent works to a benefactor or sponsor who appreciates their works.
Like most opportunities, very often, someone who may very likely produce your script may appear in front of you without due notice. He may be a director, like Steven Spielberg, or a sponsor who has a desire to produce a very good movie. How then, can you sell your sales pitch to the prospective sponsor or director?
Certainly, 30 seconds is far too short a time to narrate the entire story. This leaves you short of room to sell your idea to him. Now, what if I tell you that, there is a way to condense your ideas in a way to catch his attention within the shortest period?
Like any sales pitch, pitching a story pretty much works on the same principle: Gather the main points of your story to give the best bang for the buck. The person who is listening to you will not want the entirety of the story, not even if you have a script in hand.
You need a summary of your story.
WRITING A STORY SUMMARY
In the film industry, there are four elements in writing a story summary:
- A logline: An overview of the story generally limited to one paragraph.
- Synopsis: A slightly more detailed description of the story, generally about a page long.
- Outline: A more detailed overview of the storyline, generally 6 to 8 pages long.
- Treatment: A very detailed analysis of the story, up to 30 pages long.
WHAT IS A LOGLINE?
Let us go back to the earlier Steven Spielberg scenario: 30 seconds. That is the amount of time you may take to read about a paragraph’s length worth of words, which translates to somewhere between 30 to 50 words. This is where the logline comes in.
Although it sounds really simple (Which competent scriptwriter can’t write 50 words or one paragraph?), writing a captivating logline may not be as simple as it seems to be.
In the Steven Spielberg scenario, when facing someone as highly experienced and skilled as he is, your logline must be able to hook the attention of your sponsor. If not, there is no point in writing the script!
Besides being a great sales pitch, a logline sets the tone of your entire storyline, leading down to your written script. If your logline is bland, chances are, your script will not fare much better.
With a great logline in hand, it doesn’t matter whether you are having a chance meeting with Steven Spielberg in a lift, or even sharing an urgent “moment” in the toilet (Gross, true, but it can happen!), a great logline work, any time, and anywhere.
COMPONENTS OF A LOGLINE
With one paragraph, you will need to cram in crucial information from the story. This should include:
- The Story Set: This includes the inciting incident of the story. It gives the story a reason to exist in the first place. The story set may also include the timing and location of the storyline.
- Identify the Protagonist of the Story: The protagonist is the main character of the story and brings colour to the story.
- Creating the Conflict of the Story: The conflict is being put upon the protagonist to create an interesting storyline.
- Creating the Action: This will be the action which the protagonist is taking to resolve the conflict.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A GREAT LOGLINE
The importance of a great logline (Not just good, but great!) cannot be understated here. A logline is the beginning of your story pitch; it needs to be well polished for the storyline to work, both for you as well as your sponsor. If you wish to capture the attention of Steven Spielberg, do polish up your loglines and, as the adage goes, practice makes perfect.
Drop by for our SCRIPT AND STORY DEVELOPMENT (SCRIPT WRITING) course https://www.sgmp.asia/modules/wsq-module-5-script-story-development/ if you are interested to know more!