A LOGLINE IS A BRIEF explanation used in the movie business to describe the entire story. It's not easy to boil down a complex plot into one sentence but it's necessary if you're going to pitch your idea to a Hollywood executive you meet on an elevator. In anticipation of such a meeting many people memorize their loglines.
Loglines get their name from the short titles producers write on the spines of screenplays. They can then identify which screenplays have potential by quickly browsing the spines. Here's a checklist to use when formulating your logline. You probably won't be able to get all of these elements into one logline. Remember; if the logline gets too long it loses its effectiveness:
CHECKLIST (squeeze in as many as you can)
Reveal the star's SITUATION
Reveal the important COMPLICATIONS
Describe the ACTION the star takes
Describe the star's CRISIS decision
Hint at the CLIMAX
Hint at the star's potential TRANSFORMATION
Keep it to THREE SENTENCES or less
Use PRESENT TENSE
Here's the logline for The Subterranean (If you haven't read issues #1,#2, and #3 , all free. Isuggest reading them first as the tagline contains a spoiler):
A scientist forced underground by the murder of his wife battles to avenge her and save New York City as former colleagues launch the world's largest bank robbery under the guise of a terrorist attack.
Is this the best logline I could write for The Subterranean? Haven't I neglected many of the exciting elements of the story? Due to the nature of loglines, yes, but until it ends up on the spine of a screenplay it's a work in progress.