Screenwriting : Titles by Chris Patrick

Chris Patrick

Titles

What do you do when you've got more than one title for your script and don't know which to choose? One title embodies the script and is "hip", while the other title makes more and more sense the deeper the reader gets into the screenplay and explains the biggest turning point of the script? I've asked around and gotten split decisions on the title. I feel great about both, but I'd hate to see a good title go to waste. Names are important. Any advice? Thanks!

Kerry Douglas Dye

If this is a spec script you're trying to sell I'd go with marketability... How about posting them here and putting it to a vote? :)

Chris Patrick

Haha okay. " Above the Clouds " vs " Smoggin' "

Kerry Douglas Dye

My first inclination was to downvote Smoggin', if only because I had to look it up on urbandictionary.com. That said, it's possible I'm insufficiently hip (do kids today still say "gnarly"?). If you're certain that it's a term broadly known by your target demographic, it actually is pretty evocative, now that I looked it up. :) In other words, I decline to vote either way. See how helpful this is?

Chris Patrick

Lol hey I appreciate the feedback. I was sticking to ATC for the longest time but when a buddy of mine used smoggin' in a casual conversation, I immediately liked the way it sounded & thought of my script even though we weren't talking about screenwriting. On the downside, with our environment being the way that it is and with pollution and whatnot, I don't want someone to think of huge factories dumping out massive amounts of smoke and haze into our air when they see the title of my script. Does that make sense?

Chris Patrick

Thanks Kathy. Here's my working logline so far.... Tired of going nowhere in life, two mooching, stoner, stepbrothers discover that their hindering vices could actually be their tickets to success, if used correctly. Still trying to tweak it but I like the progress I've made so far

Jill Murphy Long

Check to see if it has been used recently on IMDb. Also, Google it to see what comes up. You want your audience to remember and be able to find your film. Lastly, needs to fit on the marquee; usually 17 to 22 characters.

Chris Patrick

Those are the kinds of things I'm considering when coming up with a title. It's something that needs to be well thought out.

Chris Patrick

Thanks for all the feedback!

Casper Martin

Go with what works for each form of writing. "Smoggin" for a screenplay and "Above the Clouds" if it were a novel. "Smoggin" draws more curiosity as a movie as does "Above the Clouds" with the book crowd. So since this is a script, I would go with "Smoggin".

Chris Patrick

Thanks Martin for your feedback. Truly appreciated.

Dawn L Rogers

Yes, I like "Above the Clouds".

Cherie Grant

i think Smoggin suits the script story better. it's eye catching and will attract the right audience. ATC will attract people who wont be interested in the content like little old ladies.

William Martell

Your title is the first thing someone is going to read about your script, so it's advertising your script to some extent. You want the title that interests people.

Jazmen Darnell Brown

Which one is the most marketable option? That's the title that's going to help you get it attention and sell it.

Kerry Douglas Dye

In the Alle vs. Wm. Martell "do titles matter?" debate, I'd like to throw in my vote with Sir William. Don't dismiss the title's importance (and clearly, since you started this thread, you do not).

Laurie Ashbourne

From the logline, I'd say Above the Clouds supports the theme/premise more. You're wise to put the thought into it -- so many writers don't. I have a hard time finishing a script if I don't have a title that sticks.

Chris Patrick

Thanks everyone! No one else (including my former screenwriting professors, advisors and multiple who've earned my trust with their blunt honesty) has had a problem with "if used correctly" in my logline, so I'm going to go with majority on that one. Most of them, without me having to tell them, understood it better that way. They'd tell me things like "it's a stoner flick and it sounds like you're pushing the debate does weed make you lazy vs a creative, full functioning, productive adult". And my reply to that would be "bingo!" I think that with what I've learned from everyone's responses that I may need to alternate the title to give myself a better chance of getting both titles seen. Who knows? I may think of something new that I like way better than those two. Thought of naming it "Potholes" at one point haha it's not like I'm fixated on one title. I'm well aware that if someone purchases a script of mine that can change the title to whatever the flip they want to, so believe me when I say I'm open to change and constructive criticism and that these comments are not coming from a place of stubbornness. Thanks guys! :)

Chris Patrick

Also, I wanted to ask if anyone has a certain strategy they use when coming up with a title or do you just trust your instincts?

Kerry Douglas Dye

I think of it this way: we all watch movies. You're usually the appropriate audience for the movie you're writing. So I ask myself... would I want to see this? There's a movie called Morvern Callar that everyone tells me is wonderful but that I've never seen because the title gives me a headache. Similarly, I've been sucked into dozens of idiotic Sharknado vs. Megapus movies because I say... "with a title like that, how could it be bad??" (I never learn.) Presumably not everyone's as dumb as I am, but IMHO the "would I want to see it method?" is as good as any. Though it's a very interesting question and I'll be interested in other answers.

Laurie Ashbourne

The best titles help solidify the story or premise. Think: LIAR LIAR, JAWS, 12 YEARS A SLAVE or as Kerry noted SHARKNAFO. You're correct that marketing will get involved (and often butcher a title) but that shouldn't stop you from presenting the best you can, that will help get your story to a place it can be marketing's job. If yours is pure comedy stoner then have FUN with it.

Chris Patrick

Thanks that's some of the best advice I've gotten. I'm glad the stage 32 community is so supportive

Richard "RB" Botto

This is what this community is all about - a collaborative spirit on and off the set or stage. Some really great responses in this thread.

Debbie Elicksen

I've come to the conclusion that titles are harder to create than the actual project. If you like both titles, can you use one of them for another project, or for the transmedia on the same project?

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

Though I'm normally never stuck on titles, If I am, I generally brainstorm by writing as many as I can on a piece of paper until one grabs me.

Michael L. Burris

Thought about trying a simple blend like above the clouds below the smog or above the smog below the clouds. Above the smoggin' clouds, The smog above the clouds. etc., etc., etc. IDK just a thought. I blend ideas all the time but that's just my process. Follow your instincts.

Kerry Douglas Dye

Above the Clouds: The Desolation of Smoggin'. Sorry, #blockbait. I'll shut up now.

David Rountree

For what it's worth, "Above the Clouds" hits much higher alphabetically and will be seen more via online distribution sites.

Kerry Douglas Dye

Ah, interesting point @David. Stinks that that matters, but wisely observed.

David Rountree

My last 2 films were "108 Stitches" (even before the "A" titles) and "CUT!" Both come out later this year. When scrolling through titles on these online rental sites, how many times do you find something to watch before you're even halfway through the alphabet? It just helps get a better shot to get seen and make money.

Chris Patrick

David, holy cow! I never thought about that. Thanks!!!!!

David Rountree

No problem. It won't help you get distribution, but will help with sales after your movie is placed. Best of luck!

Kerry Douglas Dye

Be careful how much you share, @David. I've officially just renamed my next movie "107 Zombies".

Ivan Alexei Dominguez

I think when you love a child, you do not have to think hard about the name. Before I start to writing, when I have the clear idea, I get a title. And I search in the all script for title, but if not there, then I look very close to the II Plot Point and right there this title appears! I think when you have so many questions about the title of a particular script, it sounds like the non-functionality of it. Regards Ivan

Norm Thomas

My 2 cents' worth: ATC is approachable and I do prefer it...but I have a hunch that a film called "Smoggin'" could conceivably become culturally iconic (a la "Catch 22") and bring the term and concept mainstream, making the film kind of a cult hit with widespread awareness. Best of luck to you either way and please do keep us all posted!

Cherie Grant

plenty of drug users will want to watch a film about this topic. many people who aren't into drugs will cringe. that said i still watched pineapple express, but i didnt respect the topic matter. i think you underestimate how many people use drugs. and not all drug users will want to make a business of it nor are they all junkies. most function very well and use socially.

Cherie Grant

it's not the first film about drug use nor will is be the last.

Laurie Ashbourne

I agree with Cherie. Plenty of stoner comedies have come before, still have longevity, and in the case of Harold and Kumar, launched some of today's highly respected players in Hollywood.

Mugs Cahill

Unless you are financing the film yourself or are doing an indy in which you have a lot of say, the title is out of your hands once your script is purchased. The goal at the early stage (before you sell your script) is to make the title as engaging and/or intriguing as possible. Then the writing should speak for itself. No producer, studio, director, etc. is going to pass on a great script simply because he or she doesn't like the title.

Pinar Tarhan

The genre really matters. ATC sounded more like a drama/romance where as Smoggin' made me think of Jason Statham or Ryan Reynolds. I hope that helps. I also second Debbie, sometimes finding the right title can be very hard. :)

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