Logline, Premise, and Synopsis

A couple of days ago Fiiya submitted the following question:

Can you explain the difference between a logline, premise and synopsis?”

Sure thing, Fiiya! Thank you for your question. Here you go:

 Logline

logline premise synopsisFor the purposes of conducting business in Hollywood (selling a screenplay, pitching a TV show, negotiating distribution) a Logline is a one- or two-sentence summary of your script. If absolutely necessary, you can do three sentences, but it should be as short as possible. It is designed to concisely introduce all the important elements of your story like the main character and conflict. Here are three examples for your reference:

A man with no name and a man with a mission hunt a Mexican bandit for different reasons. – FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (Sergio Leone, 1965)

Naïve Joe Buck arrives in New York City to make his fortune as a hustler, but soon strikes up an unlikely friendship with the first scoundrel he falls prey to. – MIDNIGHT COWBOY (John Schlesinger, 1969)

A self-centered hotshot returns home for his father’s funeral and learns the family inheritance goes to an autistic brother he never knew he had. The hotshot kidnaps this older brother and drives him cross-country hoping to gain his confidence and get control of the family money. The journey reveals an unusual dimension to the brother’s autism that sparks their relationship and unlocks a dramatic childhood secret that changes everything. – RAIN MAN (Barry Levinson, 1988)

Notice how loglines do not spoil the ending. Their purpose is to hook and intrigue the viewer so they accept to read your script or watch your movie. In practical terms, think of a writer who wants to have his or her script read by an agent or producer, or a filmmaker who wants to sell the distribution rights to a studio. To convince them to read/watch it, in addition to the right connections and the ever-elusive opportunity, an amazing logline will help!
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