I heard an interesting anecdote this weekend.
A couple wanted to go see the new “Western” they had heard so much about.
So when they got up to the ticket window at the Octoplex and scanned the list of movies playing, they bought two tickets for what they assumed was just that.
And off they went to see Shoot ‘Em Up.
I hear they were disappointed — and not just because they didn’t see a Western. Shoot ’em Up turns out to be a wild urban gangsta flick. Imagine this couple’s reaction when they realized what had happened.
Apparently they missed the 3:10 to Yuma and I’m not surprised. You know and I know that this is based on the Elmore Leonard novel and the 1957 cowboy saga starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, but not everyone does. See! Not even making a remake guarantees ticket buyers will know about it enough to see the film. Or even understand what genre it is based on title.
This speaks to what I talk about in my books — man, I love saying that! — and that is the importance of making your title and logline first and foremost comprehensible.
What is the logline of your movie? What is the title? Does the title “Say what it is” in a way that is unique, compelling — and clear?
If not, make it so.
But this title blur also applies to other areas. If you have a business or a new product or are seeking a job and writing your resume, try to ask yourself what your title and logline is in these cases, too.
Is the logline on your new product — and what it does — clear? Is the “What is it?” about what you offer a potential employer easy to explain and deliver on a primal level?
Good marketing men know about this problem whether it’s a movie, a person, or a product!
I have been reading a great book I recommend for anyone interested in this topic: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
I find this topic fascinating, and in a world of a million entertainment choices, it’s vital for us screenwriters to understand.
Take toothpaste, for example. Crest fights cavities. Ultra Brite whitens teeth. Aqua Fresh tastes good. Millions of dollars are spent each year to re-inforce these simple concepts. Each has a primal punch, too. Crest: safety, health. Ultra Brite: appeal to the opposite sex. Aqua Fresh: my kids will brush their teeth if they like the taste.
To me, this is the essence of good communication generally. A clear idea about something of primal interest — isn’t that what it’s all about?
And it starts with a “title and logline” we communicate well, and takes into account the busy lives of consumers who don’t have more than a minute to make a choice — be it what movie to watch or what toothpaste to use.
Avoid title blur.
Be clear! Communicate well! Excite! Invite!
From concept to execution, every step of the way, this is our job as storytellers in the market place of ideas!