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Noam Kroll Backlot 2023 Film Incubator - Week 1

·3 mins

I worked diligently this week, writing down loglines whenever an idea popped into my head. I’ve grown to appreciate loglines, as they fit my style of encapsulating quick thoughts into the absolute minimum of words. Reducing complexity in anything is difficult, and boiling a story down to its essence is an art form. I found the same joy when writing poetry, and I stumbled upon short epigrammatic forms of poetry like the 4 and 20 poem (4 or fewer lines; 20 or fewer words). A logline is like that but for an entire story.

In case you are unfamiliar with the concept of a logline, here are some great articles that cover the basics:

Now that you have a basic idea of what a logline is and why it’s so important, you will surely understand why writing 100 is a pretty tall order!

I’ll be honest; as of today, I only have 41. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember story ideas throughout my life. I know I’ve had over 100, but when I remember some of them I’ve thought of, I realize immediately that they don’t pass the very first cognitive test of being entertaining or problematic enough for our protagonist.

I even decided to “cheat” and see if I could get some ideas I could morph or use as a springboard for further development by using ChatGPT.

I don’t want this to become a post about “Artificial Intelligence” (after all, I feel somewhat qualified to speak since A.I. is directly related to what I do at the Air Force Research Laboratory.). Still, I was rather impressed at how ChatGPT could articulate known tropes in different film genres and use that to create “original” (read repetitive and contrived) loglines for stories. Just look at some of these loglines.

Luckily, I can use some of week 2 to continue coming up with my own loglines, as this could be the most crucial part of the entire process. Like in portraiture, you achieve the likeness in the beginning stages, the measurement and angles, but everyone wants to rush to the rendering stage, where it begins to look like a finished piece. Rush the beginning steps, and regardless of the final rendering, you may miss that magic piece that makes it all work.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Chris Vander Kaay I heard on Indie Film Hustle that drives home why the concept phase may be the most important.

“One of the things I always say, as a writer, ideas are the only thing you can continuously produce for free, in a film. Everything else costs money…And that’s one of the things I always point out, like, especially young filmmakers, who are trying to put a film together, and they’ve got almost no money to scrape together, I say, well, you know, the idea’s where it’s at, right? That’s the thing that’s free. Find the thing that’s gonna get people talking, usually it’s in the idea phase; that doesn’t cost you anything.”