Title and logline are in fact the one two punch and a good combo never fails to

Title and logline are in fact the one two punch and a

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Title and logline are, in fact, the one-two punch, and a good combo neverfails to knock me out. Like the irony in a good logline, a great title musthave ironyandtell the tale. One of the best titles of recent memory, andone I still marvel at, isLegally Blonde.When I think about all the bad titlesit could have been —Barbie Goes To Harvard, Totally Law School, AirheadApparent— to come up with one that nails the concept, without being soon the nosethat it's stupid, is an art unto itself. I am jealous of that title. Agood sign!My favorite bad title ever, just to give you an idea of what doesn't workfor me, isFor Love or Money.There've been four movies with that title thatI know of, one starring Michael J. Fox, and I can't tell you the plot of any ofthem. You could probably call every movie ever madeFor Love or Moneyand be right — technically. It just shows how un-daring a generic title canbe and how something vague like that kills your interest in paying $10 tosee it.
One of the key ingredients in a good title, however, is that itmust be theheadline of the story. Again I cite 4Christmasesas an example. While it'snot a world-beater, it's not bad. But it does the one thing that a good titlemust do, and I'll highlight it because it's vital that you get this:It says what it is!They could have called 4Christmasessomething more vague, howaboutYuletide?That says "Christmas," right? But it doesn't pinpoint whatthis particular Christmas movie is about. It doesn't say what it is, which is amovie about one couple spending four different Christmases with fourdifferent sets of families on the same Christmas day. If it doesn't pass theSay What It Is Test, you don't have your title. And you don't have the one-two punch that makes a great logline.I admit that often I have come up with the title first and made the storymatch. That's how I thought up a script I went on to co-write and sell calledNuclear Family.At first all I had was the title, then I came up with theironic twist. Instead of nuclear as in "father, mother, and children" the waythe term is meant, why not nuclear as in "radioactive." The logline became:"A dysfunctional family goes camping on a nuclear dumpsite and wakes upthe next morning with super powers." With the help of my writing partner,the quick-witted and jet-setting Jim Haggin, we fleshed out that story andsold the script in a bidding war to Steven Spielberg for $1 million. Our titleand logline met all the criteria cited above: irony, promise of more,audience and cost (four-quadrant, with special effects, not stars), and onethat definitely said what it is.It's a movie Istillwant to see, if anyone's listening.YOU AND YOUR"WHATIS IT?"All good screenwriters are bullheads. There, I said it.

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