Why a title matters

Some people say a logline is your script’s first impression.


The title is the first impression. Before anyone picks up your script, the first thing they view is the title so it must be good. It’s hard to explain the physics of a title. Some titles have a great ring and some don’t.

With all the screenplays that we see in our screenwriting contest, we’ve attempted to tackle this issue and figure out why some screenplay titles are better than others. We discovered that the art of a script title is an intuitive process. That being said, this is what we learned:

  1. What we learned in film school regarding titles is totally wrong: no, your title doesn’t need to tell you everything about your script. There are plenty of great movies that have titles with absolutely no relationship to the movie. Think “Pulp Fiction” or “Reservoir Dogs”… Tarantino is the king of titles that have nothing or little to do with the actual narrative. The titles are great because they have a great ring and roll off the tongue with style. It’s all intuitive.
  2. The shorter the title the better: This isn’t a hard fast rule, but it’s something we observed. A shorter title is usually better (not always). Titles like “Inception” or “Atomic Blonde” or “Avatar” or “Jurassic Park” are all one or two word titles.
  3. Longer titles work better for TV Pilots: Our latter point still applies, but the longer titles that did work were for TV pilots.

Ultimately, this whole “script title” business is a little confusing. Some people are great at it, others not so much. Some scripts are difficult to title while others are easy. When entering a screenplay competition or submitting to a producer or director, a title has an effect. A good title can get a reader excited… where a bad title can make them come into a read unsure of the quality of the script. The good thing about our screenplay contest is that your script receives a full read… whereas other places a title may cost you a read immediately.