I could get into a lot more detail on Loglines, and I will if you ask me but I had to take a moment and point out how the awkward story of The Departed is shown in the logline.
What is a logline? It’s 2-3 sentences that sum up a movie and yes, there is a formula for this.
The formula is: Who is your hero? What is his/her problem? How are they going to solve it?
Two men from opposite sides of the law are undercover within the Massachusetts State Police and the Irish mafia, but violence and bloodshed boil when discoveries are made, and the moles are dispatched to find out their enemy’s identities.
Let’s break it down with the information given in the logline
Who is your hero: Two Men this is rare to have two hero’s, it’s known as a “group protgonist” as in Pulp Fiction however these two hero’s in The Departed are not after the same goal. One wants to serve the Mafia and one wants to serve the police.
What is his problem: discoveries are made could this be any more vague?
How is the hero(s) going to solve it? Moles are dispatched to find out their enemy’s identities now because I’ve seen more than 20 minutes of the movie I know that the moles are the hero’s. And they don’t become moles to solve the “discoveries” they are already moles when these “discoveries” happen. So they aren’t solving the problem, they are the problem.
So we don’t really know who the hero is. In watching the movie I thought Frank Costello (Jack Nicolson) was the hero – an anti-hero – he was introduced first, he had the clearer conflict. Let’s see if I rewrite the logline if the story is still the same as in the film
Who is the hero? a mafia boss
What is his problem? there is a mole in his outfit
How is he going to solve it? use his connection in the police department to find the mole
clearer story, right? I got one better and this comes from my friend Chris Eller…The Departed is based on a 2002 Hong Kong flick called “Infernal Affairs” here is their logline.
I feel like the Hong Kong movie had a better grasp on what and who there story was about.
I’m sure this will be a lively discussion. Leave you comments below.