A logline is a 25 word or less description of a script. Loglines are an important marketing tool. They are used in query letters, at pitch festivals, in competitions, and even in social situations to entice agents, producers and other professionals to request the script.
Your logline should capture what's unique and interesting about your movie. For example, "A true story about the first female pilot." is a good logline. It tells us what's unique, and we immediately start imagining a movie. "A boy goes on a treasure hunt--and discovers a murder." is another example.
Writing a logline can be challenging. Start by reading the short movie descriptions in TV Guide for some ideas. If you do a Google search on "loglines," you'll find plenty of resources to help point you in the right direction.
A screenplay is a blueprint for a movie. Besides telling the story, it also serves as a guide to the many professionals(directors, producers, actors, technical people) who will work together to create the final movie. Each person involved needs to be able to know at a glance what they have to do. For this reason, screenplay formatting is very strict. If an actor wants to know how much dialogue he has, he looks for his character's name in the middle of the page. If a producer wants to estimate a budget, he checks the page count and the number of "slug lines," a heading that indicates the beginning of a scene. A standardized script format makes everyone's jobs easier.
One screenplay page in Courier 12pt font translates to one minute of screen time. The standard length of a script is 100-120 pages. There are many screenwriting books available where you can learn more about formatting, and a Google search on "screenplay format" will turn up additional resources. The best way to learn formatting, however, is to start reading produced scripts. You can either buy them or find them on the Internet for free.
Once you understand the basics of formatting, you can use screenwriting programs, such as Final Draft and Movie Magic, to simplify the task of formatting so you can concentrate on your script.
If you want exposure for your writing and you have a little time to devote to the effort, join HeliumList.com. In August 2003, Helium started a new screenwriting contest based on a comparison system (A vs. B), as opposed to a scalar rating system. What's more, the participants are the judges.
Skeptical? Read about Helium's fraud safeguards.
If you join, good luck!
On TwoAdverbs.com, International Creative Management's Story Editor Christopher Lockhart has posted his how-to article on writing a logline. You can use the information in his article to help sell your script. You will need to join TwoAdverbs to access “The Construction of a Logline”, but the article is worth your while.
In the northeastern U.S., the Northampton Independent Film Festival (NIFF) is revered and very accessible. Whether you would but be in the audience, help stage the next annual go-round, or submit a film, NIFF is worth your time. Volunteers can score screening passes.
2002's schedule included a screenwriting panel discussion with writers who work for Hollywood but live near Northampton (in Massachusetts).