Taglines: Movie Posters and Book Covers

I recently had the privilege of delivering a series of lectures on how to create effective film loglines and taglines. Towards the end of the course I had the idea of warping things up by introducing a different approach to logline and tagline creation.

Taglines: The Level
Taglines: The Level

A logline, we are reminded, is the summation of the story, sans the ending, that introduces the main conflict, the protagonist and antagonist, and identifies that which must be learnt or acquired in order to fulfill the goal. 

Taglines, by contrast, are phrases or sentences that capture some essential aspect of the story—in Apollo 13, the tagline is: Huston, we have a problem.

The exercise I set my students during class, was to have them envisage the essence of a story, not through the written logline and tagline, as per usual, but by designing a poster or book cover instead.

I emphasised that it didn’t matter whether they were skilled artists or not. What was important was graphically to capture the spirit of the story. They could “paint” a word portrait and use stick and block drawings to fill in the gaps, if need be.

The exercise was a wonderful success and threw up many interesting renditions of the story. It also proved the point that the creative process works best when using a multidisciplinary approach.

In much the same way, the book cover of my novella, The Level, which is being developed into a feature film, captures an essential aspect of the story, and this, without giving too much away.

The book cover features an important object from the story in a dark but intriguing way, and encourages the reader to ask the question: What is the role of the electric chair in the tale?

The tagline, which also draws heavily from the title, might well be: Many Lives. Many Levels. Which Level Are You?

True to form, the cover was designed before the tagline was developed and helped inspire some of The Level’s many twists and turns.


Using an offbeat multidisciplinary approach in tackling creative techniques, such as writing taglines, promotes inspiration and encourages insight.

2 thoughts on “Taglines: Movie Posters and Book Covers

  1. Stavros Halvatzis Post author

    Those are taglines rather than loglines, Gerhard, but the idea behind your comments is good.

  2. Gerhard Pistorius

    Interesting post. Posters can be useful. Posters do a lot to elevate the log line. However a poster must be 90 % log line and 10% visual when capturing the feel of the film. If you mess up the log line – the visuals won’t save you. The log line gives a movie viewer everything he needs to know and if it is extremely effective will make them pay for a ticket no matter which actor’s face is on the poster.
    “His whole life was a million to one shot” Rocky
    “In Space no one can hear you scream” Alien
    “For Lloyd & Harry every day is a no brainier” Dumb and Dumber
    There privates just went public” Sex tape
    “An adventure 65 million years in the making ” Jurassic park


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