I heard an interesting story on NPR today. Well duh, of course I did. Let me rephrase, I heard a relevant story to this blog and our profession on NPR today.  It was about titles, specifically movie titles and even why some adapted from books, didn’t maintain the source name.  Most know that E.T was once called A BOY’S LIFE, but who knew SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER was once called, Tribal Rights of the New Saturday Night.  Oy.

I’ve had this discussion with many a writer and wrote about how important titles are in the 6 keys series.  For me it’s simple, I can’t write a story until I know the title, and many of my stories stem from a title alone, it’s your story’s brand.  Now, that’s not to say it can’t be changed for something more effective later, but for me it comes down to my marketing genes, and for you it should too because you do want to sell your story someday right?

Here’s the list on NPR, and for fun I’m throwing in a link to 8 movies made by people you’d never suspect...

3 thoughts

  1. As a native English-speaker I have always felt frustrated by the translations applied to filme titles here in Brazil. Aside from the easily – literally – translated titles like Pretty Woman (or E.T. which required no translation, only a different accent), few carry the impact or intent of the original title, seeming to aim more at providing a one-line synopsis of the story. This is one of my dream-jobs; I would like to be the person suggesting Portuguese titles for the movies with the really good English titles nobody else can seem to get a handle on. I would do it for free too, in exchange for the chance to see all the movies. I watched “The Kids are All Right” on TV last night, and they called it something like “My Father and My Mothers”, in Portuguese. To me, that smacks of laziness. A great screenplay written by the person who also directed it, and brought to life by the most excellent actors, I thought it deserved a better title than that before the Brazilian audience.

  2. Very true, Lenora. These days when a film is close to going into theaters it’s the studio marketing department that has say on the title 99% of the time. And unfortunately, a lot of times they just don’t get it right — especially when it comes to international translation which is often distributed by another studio entity. It’s crazy really! But if you’re inclined to look into it, that’s where the job lies, in the studio’s marketing department.

  3. Thanks for the tip! You know, I just may look them up when I have some time to waste. I say waste instead of spend because I am pretty sure this is the kind of job that those in power delegate to their young (problem) relatives, so they can claim to be employed in the fim industry. Little do they know the damage they are doing to the state of the art.

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