Like I said, I don't feel that confident talking about screenwriting but ...
There is one thing I can say with absolute certainty:
Never, never never start work on a film (or a book) without having a title. You will never get a good title once shooting has started. There’s a reason for this. Before you start work you’re full of hope, aspiration and excitement - as in the early days of a love affair. You’re full of poetry.
Thinking of a title after the film is made is like asking someone what they like about their their wife of thirty years. It’s so obvious to them that it’s incommunicable to anyone else. They end just saying, “Well she’s lovely, isn’t he? I remember the night we met ... etc.” or trying to rationalise “She’s got a lovely set of teeth.”
A good title makes a massive difference. The BBC apparently hated the title “Last of the Summer Wine” and wanted to call that show “The Library Gang”. As soon as you know this you can see that it’s the title that makes that show work - casting its beguiling, elegaic twilight glow over the antics of a group of annoying old men. It’s the longest running sitcom in history. Under their preferred title it would have been pulled ten minutes into episode one. Orson Welles said the title of “Paper Moon” was so good they should just release the title and not bother to make the film. The original title of The Great Gatsby was - I think - The Bouncing Lover. A title so bad it would’ve destroyed not just that novel but perhaps The Novel itself. I'm sure the reason the brilliant and swashbuckling Princess Bride is not as celebrated as it should be is that it has an misleadingly girly title.
A film I wrote about some allotments in Liverpool was finally finished this week - music and credits added and ready for test screening in Stevenage. The problem is it doesn’t really have a title. It did have a working title - Grow Your Own. But marketting decided this was “too druggy”.
So now we’re trying to think of a title afterwards.
The process has turned everyone - including me - into a gently dozing Guardian subeditor. The list includes some horrors so extreme I couldn’t bring myself to post them here. I’m not blaming anyone else - some of the worst examples come from me. It’s circumstances. If Victor Hugo had had to think of a title after he had finished writing Notre Dame de Paris, he probably would’ve called it “I’ve got a Hunch.”
Here are the potential titles offered here as a warning:
Forcing the Rhubarb
Up the Shed
Plot of Bother
That’s Your Plot
Can You Dig It
Sprouting Tiger, Hidden Cabbage.
Just for the record we do have a title for the Scrabble movie. It's ..
Triple Word Score.