Script Insights Article: 12 Tricks to Create a Cool Title

Blade Runner… Gone with the Wind… Back to the Future…. Gladiator…. Road to Perdition… Slumdog Millionaire… all great film titles!

Never underestimate the importance of your screenplay’s title. The title is your script’s identity. Its purpose is to intrigue and arouse a reader’s curiosity (so they’ll want to read your script and possibly pass it on to the studio executive who just might make your movie!)

How to tell if your screenplay title needs improvement:

  • If it doesn’t give the reader any idea what the script is about
  • If it’s a title no one can understand
  • If it’s difficult to pronounce or spell

Here are 12 tricks you can use to create an intriguing title:

  1. Convey the Central Conflict
    He’s Just Not That Into You, Knocked-Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin

  2. State the Protagonist’s Goal
    Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, Leaving Las Vegas

  3. Use a Metaphor
    Reservoir Dogs, Midnight Cowboy

  4. Convey the Genre
    Psycho, Love Story, Aliens, True Crime

  5. Use a Popular Phrase or Slang
    A Few Good Men, Public Enemies, Million Dollar Baby, Basic Instinct, Lethal Weapon

  6. Create a Play-on-Words
    I. Jane, Look Who’s Talking

  7. Use the Protagonist’s Name
    Capote, Erin Brockovich, Juno, Bonnie & Clyde, Forrest Gump

  8. Evoke an Emotion
    In Cold Blood, Atonement

  9. Provoke a Question
    When Harry Met Sally, The Perfect Storm, As Good As It Gets, No Country for Old Men

  10. Convey A Unique Subject
    Gladiator, Showgirls, The Sixth Sense

  11. Contrast Two Words
    Bad Santa, Angels & Demons

  12. Emphasize a Unique Setting
    Titanic, Chinatown, In Bruges, Air Force One

An effective exercise is to create 10 to 20 possible titles for your script and ask your friends, family, and associates to vote on which one they think is best.