Three years after graduating (from the University of Iowa), 24-year-old Cody was withering away as a copy typist at a Minnesota ad agency. Her media studies degree was doing nothing for her. Her dreams of being a writer were going nowhere. She was blogging about the mind-numbing effects of corporate America, but no one was reading.”
Part of the roots of this blog go back to screenwriter Diablo Cody & Juno. Though I had been gathering notes on writing and production for my own purposes for years, it was Cody’s open appeal to anyone to start a blog and see what happens that got me in the game. So it’s always fun to dip back in from time to time on Cody or Juno with new info.
Today it comes in the form of loglines. In Blake Snyder’s third and final book Save the Cat! Strikes Back, he contrasts a bad logline with a couple good ones. The first is a blurb from an airplane movie guide:
JUNO—A teenage girl gets pregnant.
Boy that sounds like a film that would make Hollywood readers run to their bosses, make development executives fight over, and cause people flood into theaters. And, of course, it has Oscar-bait written all over it. No, it’s not a real grabber. Which is what your logline should be.
Snyder says that his elevator pitch for Juno would be something like, “It’s Baby Boom with Doc Martens.” Something to peak your interest. Then Snyder writes that he posed an open question to his readers to write their own logline for Juno. The winner was written by Christina Ferguson:
JUNO- A plucky pregnant teen from a broken family finds herself at a crossroads between the awkward teen father and the husband of a seemingly perfect adoptive couple.
Snyder’s has his own template for writing loglines and this is how he’d write Juno’s:
On the verge of another dull year of high school, a pregnant teen decides to have her baby and give it up for adoption; but when an afternoon with the would-be adoptive husband convinces her she’s found the right couple, she must learn that some things in life can’t be undone when the seemingly perfect couple decide to get divorced.
As much as I like Snyder, that seems a little wordy and doesn’t quite take my breath away. I challenge you to write one yourself. (Add it to the comments, if you’d like.) What I do like in Synder’s book is he challenges you to write the logline to your idea before you write your script to make sure it’s worth your time. A way of crystallizing your story.
Of course, Cody probably never had to write a logline herself for Juno. Manager/Producer Mason Novick, at Bender-Spink at the time, liked her blog and suggested she write a screenplay, so she gave it a shot. I’d love to read that first draft of Juno because she said it was full of typos and formatting errors. (Love to see if or how Juno director Jason Reitman helped Cody craft the script they shot.) But just a few years after writing her first script she was stepping up to collect an Oscar.
An interesting footnote that I just learned is that Novick not only grew-up in Chicago (Cody’s old Catholic-school stomping grounds) but he also spent his teen years on John Hughes’ sets. There’s a lot of Chicago mojo going there.
By the way, if you’re new to this blog below are some of the links (like a mini-blog festival) surrounding Cody and her Juno success. She is the modern-day poster child for launching a screenwriting career outside of Hollywood. And the fact that she went to college here in Iowa just seemed like a nice quirky place for me to jump into the blog world.
And if you’re new to screenwriting, Cody is the best example that you don’t need all the screenwriting books, workshops, blogs, consultants, or to have seen every classic movie made, or even know about things like what a loglines is to write a great screenplay—you just need your original voice and the discipline to complete a screenplay…and have a blog to be heard…having lived in Iowa at some point is optional (but obviously beneficial).
P.S. Beginning on Sunday, I’ll begin several days of posts on marketing your script including the importance of a strong logline. You can help me pick a logline for the latest script I’ve co-written and watch the path I take as the script heads out into the marketplace.