Help me name my screenplay!

I’m working on a new script, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I don’t have a title. I’m usually really good with titles; they come early in the process, and I know when they’re right.

This time, though, that hasn’t happened. I’ve done my usual homework, going through quotation dictionaries and concordances, keying off certain thematic words, looking for ideas. I’ve scanned related literature, looking for appropriately allusive phrases.

I know I could ask colleagues, other writers, to see if they might offer any suggestions, or if they’ve got any extra titles laying around they’d be willing to part with. I could also have someone go through the prodcos’ title registration list; maybe some aspiring producer came up with a good hook, but has no story or script. I haven’t done these yet, but they’re still there as alternatives.

Then I remembered the good old SDMB, and I thought, hey, what the hell. There are some literate, creative people wandering the boards, so why not take a flyer and see what people come up with?

However, I’m not going to just post up a plot summary. Here’s why:

There would be a major risk in making this story public in this forum. Writers jealously guard their ideas, especially screenwriters. A really good idea is gold in Hollywood, because they come around so infrequently. Not that I think my idea is that brilliant, but still, if I were to post a plot recap, some unscrupulous blackguard could come along and hijack my hard work. I know the majority of SDMBers wouldn’t resort to that, but unfortunately no place is ever entirely safe from these types. I do, of course, carefully register all of my material, and I vehemently and resolutely protect my copyright. I was involved once with a theft of intellectual property, and I was extremely aggressive in asserting my ownership and rights; it took almost no time at all for me to prevail. Still, I’d like to avoid the hassle, if I can.

So, to that end, if you’d like to help me with this, send me an e-mail separately at cervaise<at> and I’ll reply with a story recap, plus a discussion of themes and setting. (I’m trying to protect that address from spam; hence, I swapped out the @, so automated spam spiders trolling the boards hopefully won’t recognize it.) After you get the message, feel free to reply to this post with title ideas so others can see them, or send them back to my e-mail, whichever works best for you. If you do post here, please respect my wish not to indiscriminately share story details with the entire world.

In general, the tone of the story is small-scale character drama, centered on a woman and her twenty-something son. If you were interested in this because you hoped it would be an action flick (or a porno movie), I’m sorry to disappoint you. I have written those types of scripts (um, not porn); this just isn’t one of them.

Thanks in advance. Looking forward to some great suggestions!

Some titles that have worked well for me in the past:

The Godfather
The Godfather II
Love Story
Life Is Beautiful
It Happened One Night
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Huckleberry Finn
Far From The Madding Crowd
The Bible
Star Wars

Feel free to use any or all of these as you need.

p.s. I think your concerns about people stealing ideas from each other are groundless.

Why does anybody need to know what the plot is? Movie titles don’t usually have that much to do with the plot. If they did, half of them wouldn’t have titles…

That said, how 'bout:

The Next Twenty Years
Mothers and Sons
Springfield [or whatever the name of the town is]
Bill Clinton or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Interns [I just had to throw that one in]
The Fifth Glass of Beer
I Hate Mosquitos [or any insect, reptile, etc.]
So, My Mother’s an Axe Murderer
Mother’s Knives
Mother’s Little Boy
Mother’s Spacious Attic That I’m Still Living In
Mom, Where’s the Remote?
Who’s My Dad Now?

Cervaise emailed me a copy of his screenplay and these are the titles I submitted to him.
[li]The Last Island to Run To[/li][li]Swimming for Land in a Sea of Denial[/li][li]Trying For Right When You’ve Done It So Wrong[/li][li]An Isle of Hope in the Shadow of Doubt[/li][li]A Mother, A Son and Holding on to the Life Raft[/li][li]Being Right When Everything Is Wrong[/li][li]A Mother on Hope While Drowning in Denial[/li][li]Big Sins on a Little Island[/li][li]Redemption on a Small Isle[/li][li]Holding on When the Boat’s Going Down[/li][li]Loving your Son when you Feel You are Drowning.[/li][li]One Mother’s Hope[/li][li]Making the Good Son[/li][li]Wanting it All on an Isle With No Room[/li][/ul]

What popped into my head when I read it was something like
Wish Upon a Son.

I’m still thinkin’. “Wish” and “Hope”… good words for this.

Thanks so much, so far.

I really like lswote’s water references: swimming, raft, drowning. And Shadenwawa’s “wish” and “hope” are great also.

Maybe something like Drowning in Hope… Hmmm… The Drowning Wish… <tapping fingers on desk> … We’re getting close here… Thanks you guys!

Hey if it were a girl, you could call it “Treading Daughter”. Or “Hope on a Rope”.

ba-dum bum.


now back to serious thought.

Not all (or maybe not any) of these will be good, but I might inspire someone to come up with something.

Well, of course the cliche title that comes to mind is Second Chances. Tying in with the water theme, perhaps something like Drowning Chances or Sinking Chances.

Going over to the water + wish/hope, something like Wishing on the TideSunken HopesTidal Dreams (I know “dreams” wasn’t mentioned, but that sounds more aesthetically pleasing than Tidal Wishes or Tidal Hope, to me, at least). Tides of Hope, perhaps? I tried to think of something with waves but nothing’s coming to me. Waves of Hope is the best I can do.

The Isle of Denial? smacks herself Sorry. That won’t happen again.

Before Hope Drowns or Until Hope Drowns? SwimmingWishes ;)? Keeping AfloatKeeping a Family Afloat? Hope Floats has been taken already.

I haven’t even read the screenplay.

Stranded Dreams (I think I can imagine Fabio in this movie)
Wet Dreams Oh wait, it’s not a porn?
Washed Up It’s a Chevy Chase comedy, after all, isn’t it?
Woe, Woe, Woe Your Boat
Ooh! Here’s a good one: Rocking the Boat
Making Waves
Eye on the Horizon
The Adventures of TurtleMan and Sedgewick
Harbouring Secrets
Sinking Hopes
Drowned Rat

If you use one, do I get a credit? Maybe you can dedicate it to me.

If you haven’t chosen one of GuanoLad’s yet (I think Woe, Woe, Woe Your Boat is brilliant),
I’ll have a shot even though I haven’t read the outline either.

Let’s see - mother-son relationship, water or boating imagery…hmmmm. How about…?
(fanfare) -------- Oedipus Wrecks! --------
(Okay, okay, I’ll go back to GQ now - there’s no need for that kind of language!)

how about “water terrible way to go”?

or maybe “JohnLarrigan;He’s here to clean the pool”
…oh yeah, its not that type of film…

I like this one from Iswote.
The Last Island to Run To


Last Island to Run To sounds like a chic flick. Let me put it this way (having not read the script) if the audience the screenplay leans itself to is women, then good title.

If it is any other style . . . . uhhhhhh, no.

But the sad fact is if this screenplay does get picked up by a major company (and good luck Cervaise) someone else will likely pick the title. Plus it won’t be as good as any of Iswote’s.

Hoooooooray for Hollywoooooood

OK, seeing what the author likes, and keeping in mind that short titles are generally better than long ones…

Raft of Hope
Drowning in Wishes
Wishful Rafting
Wishful Swimming
Hope Drowns
Floating Wishes
A Wish to Build a Dream On
Swimming Riddles (I suppose you’d need her permission, though)
Swimming with Mom
Hopeful Wishes

If it’s to be a summer blockbuster, you need something like:

Extreme Rafting
Rafting with Sharks (what, no sharks in your screenplay? We can fix that…)
Extreme Hope
Extreme Wishes
Final Wish
Our Last Hope
Castaway Adventure
Shark Island
Pirate Island
Island of the Skull
Island of Despair
Island of Wishes

Or go with simplicity:

The Island
The Wish
The Hope

This is kinda fun…

Woe Woe Woe your boat IS brilliant, and I haven’t even asked the big C to email anything.

Just one last message to say thank you very much to everyone who helped on this. I’ve settled on a title, based directly on the helpful suggestions here. I knew the Dopers would come through.

What I ended up with isn’t an exact use of anything that’s been suggested, but it’s certainly a blend. The additional references to water, wishing, hope, and loss opened me up to other possibilities. Even the wiseacre suggestions (you know who you are) helped, in a strange way.

lswote’s Last Island to Run To fits really well thematically, but the rule of thumb is for titles to be three words or fewer. All of the others emphasized tentative hopes in the face of adversity, motherly protection, and so on – and then Guanolad said this: Harbouring Secrets.

“Harbor” is the perfect word. It captures the emotional content of the story, and it’s sort of a one-word way of saying “somewhere safe to run to,” as in lswote’s title.

So I combined them. The title I’m going with is this: The Last Harbor.

A million thanks, y’all!

P.S. NothingMan – “someone else will likely pick the title” – No doubt this is true; the recent Reindeer Games changed its title three times in the last two months before it came out. But it still makes it easier to work on if I’ve managed to capture my core theme in a good title.

P.P.S. Hope on a Rope? Woe Woe Woe Your Boat? Oedipus Wrecks? :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Which means I’ve still got a shot, right? Right? Hey, where are you going? Well, the last laugh is on you buddy when it goes straight to video… :wink:

I’m posting blindly, having never seen the plot, because I think it’s probably better that way. The best titles I’ve seen seem to be at a slight remove… not too apropos. [I hate it when the title blows the plot for me]

These are guaranteed terrible, but maybe they’ll offer a different view.

Isle of View [1]
Redemption Cay
The Moon is a Harbor Mistress [2]
Waves Always Head Ashore
Home the Sailor from the Sea [3]
Laws of Salvage [4]
Mermaid’s Lament
Sigmund and the Sea Monster [5]
The [Harbor?] Tide Runs Out
The Tide Always Returns
Anchors and Safe Harbors
Undertow (or “Anchors and Undertow”)
Riptide of the Soul
Allergic to Jellyfish [6]
Voyagers and Dinghies
So long and thanks for all the Fish
[1] a pun, sorry
[2] hey, it almost worked for Heinlein
[3] add an ‘r’ and it’d be a Simpson’s episode
[4] Gads! Not another flotsam/jetsam thread!
[5] That’s Sigmund FREUD, folks
[6] I just needed to break my train

How about:

Waving, not drowning.