While taking a break from working on the comedy spec this weekend, I took an unexpected dip into my file of “ideas in development” – scripts I plan on eventually writing.
One had more details to the bare-bones outline than I remember. In fact, I barely recall even writing it. Still, pretty impressive.
Another was just a logline and three potential titles. While the story really adheres to my ongoing attempt at trying to write material of a smaller nature (i.e. not as big-budget), what really stood out was those three titles and how different they were from each other.
The first stirred up a kind of noble nostalgia, and in retrospect might be better suited for another story.
The second was pretty generic; almost like something you’d see on a VHS copy of a mid-90s B-movie gathering dust on a lower shelf at your local video rental store. If you’re of a certain age, you totally get that reference.
The third was very reminscent of a certain genre and style of older films, and the final word in the title tells you what kind of story to expect. Such was the case here, but as much as I like the word, it wasn’t exactly the right fit for the story I wanted to tell.
Fortunately, the word in question has a lot of synonyms, and one in particular really jumped out at me. Some might consider it of a vulgar nature, but wow did it fit. In fact, as soon as it popped into my head, I actually laughed out loud, thinking “oh my gosh, this is PERFECT.”
Because not only is the new word an ideal fit for the story, but it really drives home the tone.
Although work on this script goes into the ever-growing pool of “future projects”, at least now the concept and story are a little more developed than they were. And any progress is good progress.
There can’t be enough emphasis on the importance of a strong title for your script. It’s the entry point for your reader. You want them to know what kind of story they’re getting, what to potentially expect, and most importantly, you want them to be excited about reading it.
Sometimes your initial title is good, but there’s nothing wrong with a little tinkering to find an even better one. Like your script, it can always do with a little rewriting.
*Universal Studios head Sid Sheinberg didn’t like the title “Back to the Future,” claiming nobody would see a movie with “future” in the title. In a memo to Zemeckis, Sheinberg suggested the title be changed to “Spaceman from Pluto,” and the title reference be worked into the film.
In response, Spielberg sent a memo back to Sheinberg, thanking him for sending his wonderful “joke memo” and that the office “got a kick out of it.” Embarrassed, Sheinberg let Zemeckis and Spielberg keep the film’s original title.