Monday, July 6, 2009

A title can trigger the creative process, or just confuse the audience

A blog post on Effective Speech Titles & Why They Matter points out that the choice of a title can trigger, focus, or organize the creative process.

In his book Chuck Amuck Chuck Jones tells how he once directed an entire Looney Tunes cartoon by stumbling on the mountaineering phrase “Ascent of the Matterhorn.” He realized that if “Ascent” became “a scent” then the new title would be a perfectly natural vehicle for one of their stock characters - PepĂ© Le Pew (that amorous little French skunk). It was their15th story with that character and it fell together with amazing ease, as if the storyboard wrote itself. You can watch the video for A Scent of the Matterhorn either here or here.

Plays and movies sometimes wind up with amazing titles. Peter Weiss wrote a famous play that later became a movie and usually is advertised just as Marat/Sade. That is because the actual very pretentious title was: The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade.

Five of the worst movie titles are:

1. Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever

2. Freddy Got Fingered

3. Vanilla Sky

4. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar

5. Gigli

Gigli also is considered one of the worst movies ever made. It did amazingly poorly at the box office considering that it starred Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez (along with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Lainie Kazan). Gigli is the last name of Affleck’s character.

A Gigli saw is a flexible wire saw used by surgeons for cutting bones. During World War II Gigli saws wre hidden in the boot laces of pilots (and used to cut prison bars if they were shot down and captured).

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