Name That Film

As with most things, there are a few theories of how and when to name your screenplay. Some people say you should do it early on, and some writers just come up with titles and then base the whole film on just that  (see Jerry Seinfeld with ‘Bee Movie’).

So it was interesting to listen to a Charlie Kaufmann interview, not that his techniques are usually textbook, where he said its one of the last things he does as he doesn’t know what the movie is about until he’s finished it. Which made me think: what is the title’s primary role? To market the film (short and snappy) or to reflect the film? Ideally it should be both, but there are plenty of examples (that we can all think of) that break that mould. Kaufmann’s ‘Synecdoche, New York‘ for one (try spelling that without copy and paste).

Leaving that question for another day, I looked at a couple of screenplays I’ve been drafting and I have noticed that I gave them both names at the beginning (as I always do) that now look really boring and bland. Both of them got changed to much better titles later on with a better relation to the story, theme or tone – although not as clear as say ‘Titanic‘ or ‘Snakes on a Plane‘.

So I don’t think I’m going to get too hung-up on naming my scripts before I start. I know you need to give producers working titles etc when you’re pitching, but I’ll try and leave that door open for a title change that might be more meaningful to everyone concerned.


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