What is the difference between a logline and high concept? If you can sum up your script in 25 words or less, doesn't that make it a high concept?

Nope. Every screenplay will eventually be distilled down into 25 words or less - a logline. No matter how complicated the story, you'll need to condense it down 1-3 sentences for your query letter, and when your script is "covered" by a reader they will boil it down to one simple sentence. A good script is focused and can be described in 1-3 sentences that capture the essence of the story. That doesn't mean it's a high concept - only that there's an actual story.

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING - Unmarried Greek girl has trouble convincing her traditional Greek parents that handsome WASP from conservative family is her Mr. Right.

20 words, but not high concept.

High Concept is the IDEA. Some cool, grabber idea. A high concept idea is so cool you just have to see the movie. The idea is intriguing, exciting, unusual. I think of high concept as "story as star" - you could cast actors you've never heard of and people would still be lining up to see it because of the IDEA.

LIKE MIKE - Grade school kid finds magic tennis shoes that allow him to play basketball like Michael Jordan... joins the pros!

Buy The  Poster!

REIGN OF FIRE - When dragon eggs found in a subway excavation hatch and take over the modern world, a dragon slayer uses helicopters and tanks to destroy them.

High concept ideas work well in loglines - the idea is so powerful you really don't need any more than 25 words to get someone excited. We can imagine what happens next. I can read either of those two loglines and not only be interested in the film no matter who they cast ion the lead, I can imagine what happens on screen. I can envision the helicopter and dragon fights, or the comedy from having a 12 year old kid playing against 7' tall pro basketball players. The idea is the seed the whole story grows from... the idea is the star. Both are also "cool" ideas - they are unique and interesting.

Here's an example of a high concept story: Broken hearted Guy goes to have ex-girlfriend erased from his memory - but he's reached his limit! He's already had 25% of his memory erased! Don't you want to know want to know what was in that 25% of his memory? What kind of tragedy takes up 25% of your memory? What if it isn't a tragedy, but a government secret? Should he really be poking around, trying to discover what he forgot?

(This tip and idea is one of the originals from 1999 and predates ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.)

A good high concept starts people thinking about the whole script - they HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS! A logline just condenses the story to 25 words or less. Every script will eventually be condensed into a logline... but not every script is high concept.

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