In my gym, I have a vintage Rocky poster that my wife gave to me. And by gym, I mean “part of my garage.” It’s not a “man-cave.” More like a “man-corner.” But it’s mine…and I have a Rocky poster. (You know you’re married with children when you own a house but really only own a small area in your garage…which isn’t really even officially part of the house.)
Anyway, this Rocky poster in my gym-garage-corner got me thinking about the power of a single line to convey a story’s core meaning in a marketable way. When I was a kid I didn’t think much about taglines. I just went to see any movie that had Wookies, robots, nunchucks, or throwing stars in it. Now that I’ve been developing and pitching story concepts for several years at Timbuktoons, I’m very familiar with taglines (and loglines) and realize the importance of distilling a story down to a single phrase.
A tagline is important for marketing, but it’s even more important for story. Taglines are the short, witty phrases that you typically see on movie posters for marketing. A log line serves as the “elevator pitch” of your show. It’s usually just a few short sentences that help sell the idea to networks and distributors.
There are some great tag lines out there. Make a list of your favorite movies, then go check out the taglines that were used to market those films. If you are a student of story, this is a great exercise. Here are my top 10 for your enjoyment and my nostalgia. (BTW, if you asked me next week, my top ten might be all different.)
Todd’s Top Ten Taglines
10. Liar Liar: “Trust Me.”
9. Napoleon Dynamite: “He’s out to prove he’s got nothing to prove.”
8. Apollo 13: “Houston, we have a problem.”
7. Star Wars: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”
6. Dumb and Dumber: “For Harry and Lloyd everyday is a no brainer.”
5. A Bug’s Life: “An epic of miniature proportions.”
4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “And now! At Last! Another film completely different from some of the other films which aren’t quite the same as this one is.”
3. Monsters Inc.: “We scare because we care.”
2. Braveheart: “Every man dies, not every man really lives.”
1. Rocky: “His whole life was a million-to-one shot.”