Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The art of titling

In The Guardian, Neil LaBute considers the tricky task of giving a work a title.
Some titles become not just touchstones in the zeitgeist, but go on to become brand names or get a trademark: by this method a Star Wars is born. This is rare: more often, an author pores over a variety of ideas, old notebooks, song titles, quotations, searching for something that captures the imagination while giving the educated uninformed (that's you, dear reader) some sense of the work. In my short career, I've used everything from song titles (Aimee Mann provided This Is How It Goes, while Elvis Costello was the inspiration for Seconds of Pleasure) to pure imagination to name a short story or a play or screenplay. Just because Edward Bond and David Mamet had both already used In the Company of Men (in a play and an essay, respectively), I saw no reason not to call my first film by the same name. It was a bit of a tribute to the writing of two men whose work I admired. It also seemed to capture the spirit of what I was doing better than anything else. For a moment I thought about going with just The Company of Men, but it was so much stronger with that little extra "in" at the start.

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