Firstly, this article is just for the writer who faces the audio-visual as a market and the screenplay as a product beyond the empty concept of art.
Consider the title of your film, serie, or whatever it is, the first thing audience will see – the first experience. However, the usual question that people will ask you is: what’s it called? You know, the first impression is very important to convince a person, so it has to be good enough.
As humans we always evaluate and judge everything in the first moment. So, keep in mind the title of your audio-visual product needs to be the most short as possible – if you can use a single word to describe your whole title, it will be better.
Title needs to tell us what’s the film genre, and when you do it right, probably the second question that people will do is: what’s the genre? Actually they just want to make sure about the own thinking, because they’ve discovered the film genre when you said the title (here they’re convinced your film is interesting). Title is a tool sell, which will do people read, watch or know more about your film, or not. Remember, here people want you sell a good film, not a work of art. General audience will looking for a work of art in another place, your film isn’t this place.
Almost always your film title will be accompanied by a short pitch; it’s like a slogan, or a kind of key which opens the mind of the audience to your story. Take a look on the movie posters or DVD,s covers – you always find a short pitch. The short pitch also needs to work with your title, that’s an extension of it and it’s an extension of the narrative concept of your film.
Without a doubt is very important to mention that you never will be happy 100% with your title. However, the title always is a commitment yours with the story of your film. Many times you can reduce 100 pages from your screenplay because of your title. After all, a simple title can tell us a lot.
Provisional titles are normals, it’s not always possible keep up the things clear since the begining of the project. Read up some interviews about films or series in production yet, and you’ll see many producers or directors talking about the provisional titles of their films (of course, despite this happening – a lot, it isn’t good to promote your product, then before you start to promote your film on the media, make sure you already found the ideal title). The most important is: do not worry to replace a not so good title for a title that seems much better.
Do not be “smart”. You can’t create a title which people have to discover and research about its signification. As screenwriter/filmmakers we like titles which bring to us some “mystery”, but the audience will only be interested if you get right to the point, otherwise they will not apprecite or they will not understand anything and they will choose another film with a title that sells better than yours. Why would I want to talk to someone who doesn’t understand me? That makes sense, right?
Finally, title must be connect with the central conflict of the story… “Jaws” (shark eats people in the film), “The Exorcist” (it happens an exorcism in the film). Above all, title must, honestly and succinctly, reflect about your story.