Creating a great title for a film can be tough. You want the title to stand out and stick with people. Something that highlights themes, characters or actions in your story. A hint of something scary, funny, dramatic or unworldly. Maybe it’s a metaphor or something poetic. Whatever the title, once you have it you know in your gut that it’s right.
Creating a bad title, on the other hand, is far easier.
When watching hundreds of shorts each year, there’s always generic titles that pop up several times. Before even watching a film, if I see a common title I think the film is amateur or lazy. My judgement before I even watch a frame: uncreative. A title is the first thing that sells your film to an audience – and when a short is a calling card of you to the world should you really make the title that ordinary?
Today, I’m sharing a few of the most common short film titles I’ve seen. I’m not saying that you can’t have your film titled one of these words. But what I am saying is that each year, I see at least one film – often multiple films – with this title. The one word title is most common. It doesn’t matter if you put it in all caps either. It’s still the same word. I’m wondering if your film is going to be the same as every other one as well.
As you’re reading this list, imagine what kind of film it might be. Does it perk your interest at all? Do you feel you already know what the film is about? Do you feel like you need to watch it?
Some of the title offenders include:
My Name is… (and then a name)
Crossing (or The Crossing)
Beyond (this is also usually followed by another word or two… which reminds me of the next one…)
After (Pick a word, any word, to follow After and it has probably been done before.)
Hello (Only Adele can get away with this now. #SorryNotSorry)
and one of the worst titles I see multiple times each year:
Look, I get it. Being original is difficult. There’s a lot of content out there and plenty of films that have come and gone. But the title is the hook and just as much effort should be put into that as the film itself. So please filmmakers, make an effort with your title. I want that title to make me curious.
What are some of the worst film title’s you remember? What are some of your favorite titles? I’d like to hear them in the comments!