Loglines have been a promotional tool in Hollywood for years. Traditionally, they’ve been used to help screenwriters, producers, sales agents, and other industry insiders seek interest for their latest project. So what is it? A one (maybe two) sentence synopsis that shares the plot and emotional hook of a screenplay or project. Today, loglines are also commonly used to attract an audience. Every time you hit the guide button on your TV remote and the description of that movie or episode pops up, that’s basically a logline.
When crafted properly, loglines can be one of the most efficient and effective tools for grabbing attention. That’s why I suggest every actor creates a personal logline as a promotional tool in their career. Treat it as a quick description of who you are and what you do as an actor. If it works for a show or film, it can work for you as a performer. Here is what to consider when crafting your personal logline:
Understand the purpose.
Whether you’re at a potential rep meeting, networking event, or even a social event, at some point you’ve probably been asked, “What kind of acting do you do?” Rather than panic and fumble around trying to figure out an answer in that moment, be smart and offer up a response that piques curiosity.
A savvy logline reveals the types of characters you can easily play and what you bring to the table—what’s in your wheelhouse. What differentiates you from the other dozens of actors industry professionals meet in any given week? This can make it really easy for an industry insider who doesn’t know you, like a CD, director, or new rep, to understand exactly what type of projects you will succeed in.
There’s a multitude of ways to utilize a logline in your career. It can be helpful as a pitching tool for your agent, published on your website homepage for visiting fans, added to your resume for auditions, inserted into your personal electronic press kit sent to the press, incorporated into your biography, dropped into a cover letter when seeking new reps, and so much more.
Where to start?
There are different styles you can use to craft your personal logline. A comparison logline is possibly the easiest; this is when an actor compares themselves to other well-known actors in order to trigger a recognizable appeal. I’d discourage you from using this type of logline as it shifts the focus to someone else rather than highlighting your unique qualities.
Instead, use a comparison logline as a starting point. Then think about the traits, qualities, characteristics, and adjectives that describe how you’re similar to these other well-known actors. So rather than say something like, “I’m a young Tom Hanks meets Jason Statham,” try something like, “I’m the honest down-to-earth ‘nice’ guy, who won’t hesitate to kill you when crossed.”
Build on your casting.
Another way to develop a logline is to use the breakdown of some of the characters you’ve previously been cast as. Find the original submission breakdown for that character: Does it hint at what you’re capable of as an actor? There could be some clues to your type in the breakdown.
Additionally, take a look at some of the recent projects that you’ve been called in to audition for. They might indicate how casting and your reps are viewing your type. If you’re a mommy type, don’t craft a logline that portrays you as a vixen—that’s not helping you or casting. You don’t want to confuse anyone and waste their time or yours. Be true to who you are and the type of characters you play.
Essentials for logline success.
Aim for what I call “descriptive brevity,” which is just a fancier way of saying a short description. A finished logline should be one or possibly two sentences at the most. It shouldn’t require further explanation or require you to clarify. If it helps you to start with a longer version, that’s fine. Just continue to refine it, trimming down the extra bits while keeping the main essence intact.
Then test it out. Send it to your peers, coach, agent, family, and others to get feedback. Take their feedback into account and use it to help hone your logline further. It’s important to make sure what you’re putting out there actually fits who you are and what you can do.
Keep in mind that, as time moves on, you’ll need to adjust your logline; it’s not a one-and-done device. As you gain insight, change physically, and add to and stretch your abilities, you should adjust your logline to fit. I suggest revisiting your logline every time you update your headshots.
Overall, the goal is to create a personal logline that evokes an emotional reaction and leaves someone with a clear understanding of who you are as an actor. Anything that can help showcase how to cast you is definitely worth the effort. Happy writing!
*This post was originally published on March 26, 2018. It has since been updated.
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