You’ve worked for (fill in time span here), pouring your blood, sweat and tears into your script but it’s finally done. The only thing left to do is the title page. You think about it for a few minutes and think, “aw, screw it, what’s in a title anyway?” Sound familiar? If this is how you view your script’s title, think again. In some cases, the right title can mean the difference between getting made and sitting on the slush pile for all eternity.
Don’t believe me? The other night I saw Greg Kinnear on “The Graham Norton Show”. (It’s on BBC and if you’ve never seen it you are missing one of the funniest hours on TV.) He was talking about his movie X. It originally came across his desk with the dubious title “Windshield Wiper Man” and sat there for three months before he even took a look at it. It sounded to him like another goofy superhero movie and he had a hard time getting over the mental image of a man in a cape, etc. Fortunately, for whatever reason he got past it, made the movie and the rest is history but what a close call.
Similarly, I was reading a script for a client and the title smacked of a whacky comedy. I sat back waiting for the laughs to come in only to find out it was a horror movie. It’s a good script but the human brain being what it is, my expectations were let down and in general I felt disappointed with the read. I would have read it regardless but if someone was looking to make a horror movie, this script would not have leapt off the pile with a big “read me” sign in bold, dripping, blood red letters.
So take some time, do a few “test groups” with your friends, co-workers and fellow writers to see if your title evokes the genre, tone and excitement you’re looking for.
Photo from City of Centralia Illionois