Many people confuse a good pitch with a good movie. The truth is that a good pitch does not necessarily end up being a good movie, but it has a better chance of being sold. The difference between the two is that nobody (not even the top studio executives) know whether a movie is going to be a hit, but we all know (even you) if an idea is considered to be “high concept”.
Consider the following examples:
Good Pitch, Good Movie When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. JAWS, IMDB rating 8.2
Good Pitch, Average Movie A “National Geographic” film crew is taken hostage by an insane hunter, who takes them along on his quest to capture the world’s largest – and deadliest – snake. Anaconda, IMDB rating 4.4
Bad Pitch, Good Movie Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him. Forrest Gump, IMDB rating 8.7
The big question is which movie would you watch tonight if the above log-lines appeared in your TV guide? Assuming that all of them are the same genre, a good pitch is the one that would make the majority of viewers want to watch it. This is what the executives are looking for because the movie will sell even if it doesn’t win an Oscar.
Crucial points to keep in mind when you are writing your log line:
a) It is interesting and intriguing for viewers to watch.
b) It has enough information about the story so that the viewer has a clear understanding of what to expect.
c) It does not give away the ending.
d) It has a “hook” that makes the reader wonder of the outcome.
It is important when you write your log line to think of your self as the viewer going through a TV guide. Don’t try to think what you want to say to others in order to make them watch it, but rather what you would want to read there that would make you want to watch that movie.
As long as the main plot is laconically expressed, you don’t need to worry about further story details within your log line. You can have a more elaborate story description along with some character descriptions in your synopsis.
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