Update: Black List 2012 Word Cloud Logline Challenge!

December 23rd, 2012 by

It started out here:

Here is a word cloud based on the loglines for the 78 Black List 2012 scripts:

Okay, all you clever people. Time to come up with a logline based on some of the key terms in the word cloud. For instance, take “ruthless father” and “ex-con son,” link them up with “goes to war” or “government conspiracy,” who knows what you get.

By the way, no zombies, vampires or aliens? What’s up with that?!?!

Then evolved here:

Franklin Leonard took note and sent me this:

I love this. Let’s push it a little further.

People’s answers can be put in the comments and/or tweeted with the hashtag #BLWordCloud.

The people who come up with your favorite five get a free read at the new site.

We already have quite a few loglines in the original thread. With an offer for a free script evaluation from Black List readers, I would think we would get a bunch more.

So post your loglines based on the Black List 2012 Word Cloud — here or Tweet them with the above hashtag. Let’s take submissions through Friday, December 21 at midnight Pacific. And you know what? I’ll let Max Millimeter decide which five are his favorites. You know what that means: Make them entertaining.

Thanks, Franklin, for that offer, very much in the spirit of the holidays!

Now let’s see your BL Word Cloud inspired loglines!

For a larger image of the Word Cloud, go here.

And it ends up here with the announcement of the five winners. Here is a transcript of audio sent to me by Max Millimeter:

First off, it took the Kid like two whole days to explain what a ‘word cloud’ is. And ya’ know what? It doesn’t look so much like a cloud as it does a peanut. I mean seriously, take a couple of steps back, squint your eyes, and tell me that ain’t shaped like a goddammed Grade A, unsalted Virginia peanut. But I guess ‘word peanut’ doesn’t make a whole helluva lot of sense. ‘Course ‘word cloud’ doesn’t either, but hey, what do I know about modern technology and shit.

So I go through all the loglines. Check that. I start to, but holy crap, turns out you guys have launched your loglines from bizarro land. I call the Kid who reminds me, ya’ know, this is an experiment, gotta come up with loglines from the word cloud peanut thingee, of course, there’s gonna be some weird ones, I mean we’re talking words like “virginity,” “ex-con,” “Hitler” and “eponymous.” Hell, I can’t even pronounce that last one let alone have any fucking clue what it means.

So when in doubt, I do what I always do: Get good and drunk. And ya’ know what? Now your loglines are lookin’ pretty damned interesting. Time travel this and sex conspiracy that. And by the time I get halfway into a bottle of George Dickel, I’m starting to think, “What if Hollywood made movies like this? Couldn’t do any worse than they do already, right?” And I’m really startin’ to, ya’ know, believe that when I run into this one:

Hitler is forced to become an ex-con love slave, violently losing his behind virginity to a ruthless black man.

That comes from FatLadiesMan. And as FLM indicates, every single word over 2 letters long comes directly from the peanut thingee.

That logline is both brilliant… and completely cuckoo. And there’s no fucking way Hollywood should come within 100 yards of a movie like that.

But know what? I salute FatLadiesMan. I mean don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wanna meet him in a dark alley or anything, but his logline is so completely demented, yet creative in its own way, he gets the official Max Millimeter Honorable Mention for his efforts.

So without further ado, here are the five winners:

When a retired crime boss loses his home to a ruthless woman bank worker, he enlists three ex-con friends in an old school conspiracy to rob the bank in revenge. — Shaula Evans

Retired crime boss. Ruthless banker. Ex-con friends. Rob a bank. Revenge. Boom! I see the movie. It’s Ocean’s 11 meets Red. Or for us ol’ farts, Going In Style.

Alone on a journey after leaving her astronaut boyfriend, a woman is mistaken for a missing criminal’s wife with a dangerous secret. Pursued by corrupt cops, she discovers the woman hiding in a small town, and now the two must uncover the mystery of the government man who wants them dead. — plinytheelder_t

This one’s a bit squishy, trying to fit in as many peanut words as possible, but you break it down — Road picture. Bad cops. Mistaken identity. Buddies [Protag and Criminal’s Wife]. Pressure [Death] — ya’ got the pieces of a decent action thriller. Somethin’ like Marathon Man meets Thelma & Louise.

When a TEENAGE ASTRONAUT DISCOVERS her biological FATHER is a sex SLAVE on a CRIMINAL planet, she hires a DYING SHERIFF and an EX-CON to help fight a CORRUPT GOVERNMENT and RUTHLESS prison POPULATION to SAVE her only FAMILY. — Noah Thomas Grossman

I ain’t a big sci-fi fan, but a story where a guy is a sex slave gets my attention pronto. Here ya’ got: Desperate teenager. Imprisoned father. Criminal planet. Ex-con. Dying sheriff. And a clear goal: Save the father. I’m thinking True Grit meets Escape from New York crossed with Alien.

A desperate ex-con unwittingly becomes an American hero after he protects a dying girl during a bank robbery. Struggling in his new role as an unlikely star, he finally decides to leave behind his criminal past – until he discovers that he alone can break into the government building that houses a secret, experimental drug that just might save her life. — Kristen Mozaffari

I’m a sucker for what I call “one last gig” movies, especially where the hero is trying to escape from his past, but now he’s got a situation where he’s gotta become what he used to be. And you got that here: Ex-con. Dying Girl. Criminal past. Break-in. Save her life. What’s more, ya’ got a ticking clock: The girl’s health. Sounds like D.O.A. meets Unforgiven.

Finally there’s the winner of The Max Millimeter Kitchen Sink Award:

When teenager Sam Ross discovers she might not be the President’s daughter after all, she sets out on an unlikely journey to find out who her real father is, chased by her successful family, the secret service, corrupt government officials, struggling cops, high ex-cons, her dead boss, three escaped farm animals, an old drug lord, a team of criminals, a sheriff’s wife and Adolf Hitler, Jr., all the while really desperate to lose her virginity to her black astronaut boyfriend and achieving her dangerous dream of teaching American English to dying students at a ruthless Texas party school. — Teddy Pasternak

Guy just threw everything into the mix. Hollywood makes movies like that sometimes, ya’ know, like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I mean, there’s no actual story here, but I gotta say I admire this guys chutzpah. It’s almost like he used all the words in the peanut… or close to it.

So those are the five that stuck out to me… plus FatLadiesMan who from his logline sounds like a budding Tarantino. Either that a porn director!!!

About that word cloud peanut deelibob, hey… whatever it takes to get your brain off its ass and thinking up story ideas. You should be comin’ up with ’em every single day. 99% of scripts that don’t work, don’t work for a lotta reasons, but the biggest single one? A story concept that ain’t a movie. Anybody can come up with a story idea. It takes practice, doing it over and over, and lots a luck to come up with a movie idea.

There you have it, words of wisdom from Max Millimeter: Legendary Hollywood Movie Producer. Winners of the Challenge email me:

Shaula Evans

Noah Thomas Grossman

Kristen Mozaffari

Teddy Pasternak


I will get you in touch re your free script read per Franklin’s offer. Congratulations! And thanks to all for participating. I have an idea about how we can do something akin to this on a recurring basis to work your logline / story idea muscles. More on that later.

Final note: I have reminded Max again that he owes several people who took Core classes feedback on their loglines. He will be getting to those over the holidays.

Comment Archive

19 thoughts on “Update: Black List 2012 Word Cloud Logline Challenge!

  1. Shaula Evans says:

    I’d like to thank the Academy!

    Thank you, Max (and Scott and Franklin). It’s a pleasure to be recognized in such august company. Especially alongside Max Millimeter Kitchen Sink Award Teddy Pasternak!

    Teddy, that was hands-down my favourite logline (Mad World meets Blues Brothers is what it made me think of!) and it’s a tribute to the integrity of the voting process that yours got special recognition. :)

    Congratulations to the winners and to all who entered. The talent, creativity and enthusiasm around this place always amazes me.

    Shall I be tasteless and shill for something, just like a real award winner? Okay, I will: remember that if you are working on your own (real) logline or you’d like to get in some practice by helping other people work on theirs, we’ve got a thriving logline workshop over at the GOYOQ forum and you’re ALL invited. Think of it as the Black List 2012 Word Cloud Logline Challenge After Party!

  2. Erica R Maier says:

    Congrats everyone!!

    BTW, I LOVE this one! Can totally see it! Good job, Kristen!

    A desperate ex-con unwittingly becomes an American hero after he protects a dying girl during a bank robbery. Struggling in his new role as an unlikely star, he finally decides to leave behind his criminal past – until he discovers that he alone can break into the government building that houses a secret, experimental drug that just might save her life. — Kristen Mozaffari

  3. Shaula, thanks for the kind words. It means a lot coming from you. You’ve been an inspiration this past year with your enthusiasm, encouragements and knowledge about writing!

    Congrats to all the winners!

    And thanks to Max, Scott, Franklin and all the participants in this fun challenge. I’m honored that you liked my ridiculous logline. Does anyone have $100M so we can go shoot it?

    1. Shaula Evans says:

      You know, if only I had $100M in my back pocket I’d take you up on that, just for the fun of working with you and soaking up the Cannonball Run vibes that your logline gave off. :)

      Alas, my “rich pants” got lost in the last move…

    2. L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.

  4. Gosh… I mean I’d always hoped… but I never expected and didn’t prepare a speech…

    Seriously, this competition was a lot of fun, and it’s interesting to see how Max’s mind (and by extension the rest of Hollywood) works in the context of all these entries.

    And thanks to everybody who participated. You guys are cool enough not to be scared to share your thoughts.

    FatLadiesMan, I have a title for your movie:”Springtime for Hitler.”

    1. FatLadiesMan says:

      or “Sprung Time For Hitler”

  5. Copngrats!

    While this smacks grossly of nepotism, i will just shut the fuck up..


    1. Respectfully, you didn’t perform a logline contest Haka. That’s what screwed you.

  6. :) ahahahahaa

    Its haka’s and sheep ? aye…

    1. Dude, just take the gentle tease as the words of encouragement they are.

      As for a limited view of Kiwi culture, lets just say that I’m a child of the Commonwealth from a time when that actually mattered. I know when Anzac Day is and where Gallipoli is.

      That Ernest Rutherford and Edmund Hillary were among my childhood heroes.

      That I’ve paid money to see the All-Blacks including Jonah Lomu, John Kirwan, Tana Umaga, and also Richard Hadlee play live.

      Plus, I saw Dame Kiri sing Floria back in the day.

      If any of that means anything to you, you’ll understand that any teasing comes from a place of respect.

      1. Ohh I was.. ( taking the gentle tease as encouragement.. ) i forget that we (kiwi’s) have now evolved an even drier sense’s of humour thanks to the likes of Taik and the Flight of Conchord boys.

        Please let me acknowledge the respect you offer honourable and know that it is ( teasingly ) offered straight back at ya…

        Bring on #blloglinewordcloudchallenge2013 its turning into a competitive global event.



        1. fuck, honourably… there is no honour in having to post twice simply to edit a rushed piece of badly spelt grammar and then stripping it of all context and humour Scott Myers / Franklin Leonard. please ask the tech guy.

          can we get an edit button ?

  7. Wow! Totally unexpected. There were so many awesome ones! Love everybody’s.

    It was really fascinating to see what his explanations as to what appealed to him and why. Really cool.

    Thanks so much! 😀

  8. […] darned if they didn’t pick one of mine! How cool is […]

  9. Scott, thanks for your time. Congrats to all.

  10. Debbie Moon says:

    Congrats to everyone – and I look forward to seeing all of those ideas on next year’s Black List!

  11. FatLadiesMan says:

    I was curious as to how you were going to handle it. It definitely couldn’t win. I knew that going in. With the four-hundred time travel astronaut conspiracy loglines, there would have been a mutiny if the Hitler snuff film took one of their trophies. But at the same time, I would have been disappointed, in you as people, if it went ignored. I salute you back for doing the right thing.

    I’m not Kanye Westing the deserving winners, I’m simply pointing something out: There’s five of you, only ONE honorable mention.

    Oh, and Beyonce had one of da best videos of all time. All time!

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