So, I get asked a lot about how I come up with titles for projects. A script I co-wrote ages ago, MOTHERFUCKER-IN-LAW, is a pretty classic “title before idea” story, where I just knew something had to come out of that title. It ended up being a kickass action film, as the title (kind of) implies.
For the most part, I have a pretty easy time crafting titles. Usually, they come to me along with the logline or even before the logline, and then the story sprouts from the title.
A few months ago on Twitter, I was bantering with Bob Saenz, a great writer who you should all follow, and came up with the idea for a film called The Birthday Boy – a horror about a demonic kid who demands that every day be his birthday (or something along those lines). Very TWILIGHT ZONE meets CHUCKY, but all it took was spinning a typical phrase that we hear in everyday conversation into something that might look fun on a poster – add in a great tagline, write a great script to go with it, and you’ve got a film – I know, easier said than done!
Ultimately, with titles, the big thing that helps me most is: common phrases. Things like “mother-in-law” or “the birthday boy” will help inspire ideas. My latest project, RIVETING, is a TV pilot about WWII women factory workers. Again, something common from the internal factory work, used as a bit of a play on words, in the hopes that those reading might find it just a bit intriguing.
Pitching and titles have always come pretty naturally to me, but the best exercise I can give is really to sit down and focus on common phrases and ways you might spin them into something new or unique for your story. Dig into the idea you have and see what your basic logline is, and what might come from that primary concept to make a cool title.
If you’re reading this and struggling on a current project, feel free to hit us up on Twitter @HarborRoadEnt. If you don’t have a current project, come up with five possible titles for your next one, and toss ’em our way. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!