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The Baby Still Lacks A Name: Picking The Title of Your Script

Posted by on Tue, Jul 29 2014 at 01:46 PM CDT:

Why are you reading this? Most likely because you donít like what youíre calling your screenplay. Whatís it called? Do you have a title or a working title? A working title is a title that sucks that you put on the file of your script, right? Iím writing something right now that doesnít have a title and doesnít even have a working title, thatís how much trouble Iím in. Iím so overwhelmed by figuring out what the story is I canít even invest a moment into coming up with something even stupid to call it. Titles are worse than loglines, because while they both come from a different part of the house than a compelling screenplay, loglines are sitting on the couch in the front room acting invited and the title is out in the yard playing with a half-inflated soccer ball, alone. Judging BlueCat, I can look at a list of script titles in the database and know, quickly, that some of these scripts might not be done, all from the title. Now even the fact that I would make that cursory judgment proves how important a title is, BlueCat doesnít judge our scripts that way, of course, you can look at our top scripts and their titles vary from perfect to totally nondescript, like Chinatown or The Godfather or Casablanca. But if a title puts someone off, what happened? How can you teach titles? You canít teach titles the way you can teach dialogue, or character development, or raising the emotional investment of the audience. Itís totally different. But here are some things to help you get to a better title, or possibly the greatest title your movie can have.

1. Run it by people. Titles are like ideas. They come from where? You donít know, do you? You might remember when you thought of the idea, what you were reading, who you were staring at, and you might think the idea came from that. It didnít. It happened. It occurred. It came from who knows. Same as titles. You can sit and think of a great title like you can think of a great idea for a movie, or you can live your life and find your ideas, have them revealed to you as you move through the day. Your title most likely will happen this way. Or youíll just come up with one when youíre trying to come up with one. Either way, like ideas, you need to run them by people and say, hey, what do you think? Hereís my 20 second idea for a movie. Hereís the title. Or are you going to ignore what people think and say because you donít plan on showing your movie to human persons. If you are planning to show your movie to more than your GI Joes, then show your title to people.

2. Donít be stubborn. You came up with something and you think itís awesome, because before you came up with it, you were trying to get a great title, because youíve had great titles before, and you want it to happen again. So you ran it by some people and everyone looks back at you like you said something wildly inappropriate. Ever tell a funny story and nobody laughs? The look on those faces is the look of your title isnít good face. But even after everyone looks at you, you still say thatís a good title and thatís what Iím gonna call it. Well, hopefully your script will make up for it, or even better, you cross off that title and move on, looking for another. Take the feedback. If you get the look, your title isnít gonna work, and quite possibly, the contents of your screenplay might not as well.

3. Make your working titles dumb. The fact is you call it something that you know is not special and it looks like a working title and you tell people thatís a working title and one person starts saying I like it and then what? Maybe it becomes your title. A placeholder title is like a placeholder scene. Placeholder scenes end up in movies because itís harder to move furniture into a house that has furniture in it. If you have a house thatís empty, you can move stuff into it. But if you have a bunch of old couches that youíre using until you get a new couch, guess what, thatís your couch. Thatís your home. Placeholder scenes are old couches. Working titles are crappy dining room table chairs. Just call it Laundry Basket or Hank Aaron, something that makes you happy, Burrito Party, whatever, but donít bring it in the house.

4. Most importantly, donít name your movie something you donít like. Sounds funny, right? Thatís like saying everyone loves their screenplay. Do you love your screenplay? Not so much? Ok, probably need to work on it then. You work on your screenplay until you are so charmed by it, along with everyone else. Once the world, including you, is in love with your screenplay, itís done. We have to be honest with ourselves with this whole thing or it doesnít really work. If this is not about love, then maybe thatís why so many movies bomb, right? Look at your title and set aside the reasons why itís a good title, why it works, why it fits your movie perfectly, and ask yourself, do you actually like it? Donít you have a say in this? Whatís your answer? No? Then take it off and call it Silverware drawer and letís move on to writing the story.

Your title will come.

Read more at http://www.bluecatscreenplay.com/articles/the-baby-still-lacks-a-name-picking-the-title-of-your-script/#oOx2VSduUcuYPmSy.99


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