TITLE TELLS ALL
by Michael Chasin
Screenwriting Mentor, IAFT/Miami
As much as it’s movie making, it’s also movie marketing—and as any marketer knows, the success or failure of a product often rests on—its name.
Great product names are selected—or invented—to describe what the product is about.
PayPal, Post-its, Band Aides, Photoshop, TurboTax—are all names that explain the product.
As movies compete in a crowded entertainment marketplace, their titles should also explain what they are about.
Buried, Taken, The 40-Year-Old Virgin—are all easily understood by their title.
The makers of that masterpiece, The Shawshank Redemption, now acknowledge that the title greatly hurt it at the box office.
In an environment where decisions are often made in a thumb-scrolling-second on a handheld device, a movie must be easily and immediately understood.
Therefore, the shortest and most directly defining titles are the best.
The Terminator, Frost/Nixon, Titanic, Identity Thief—all quickly define the central concept of the movie—and most importantly—make for an easy viewing decision.
The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou—not so much—with no disrespect to Wes Anderson.
As selection decisions are often made via alpha search functions, filmmakers may also be well advised to title their films with an early letter of the alphabet.
While the Academy loves to heap Best Picture nominations on films with pretentious titles such as Silver Linings Playbook, The Tree of Life, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Beasts of the Southern Wild—those titles were not movie marketing friendly.
Be a passionate movie maker in creating your film.
Be a savvy movie marketer in the titling of your film.