First impressions are critical. We all want to put our best foot forward—to stand out and separate ourselves from the crowd. So why is this not the case with the titles of giant screen documentaries?

Arguably, the single most important determining factor in the success of any film, especially a giant screen documentary, is its title. So why then does there seem to be a repetitive uniformity and lack of drama to giant screen film title construction?

I know it’s not just me as the “creative marketing guy” saying this, because I’ve heard the same echoed by many theaters. Most importantly, I hear it from audiences.

In conducting research to help launch a new science center just a couple years back, families overwhelmingly agreed they judge all films with the same eye toward production and entertainment values. They expect to be wowed and drawn in, and it makes little difference whether the film is “educational” or “Hollywood.” And this attitude applies equally to the title.

Particularly in this age of online listing and ticketing sites, where very often the only thing a potential audience member has to go on is the title, extra effort needs to be directed at coming up with great ones.

I do not believe this to be an easy task. Having been involved in countless business, product, service, and project naming sessions, I’m well aware it’s daunting to distill everything about a venture down to a single word or phrase. But there are best practices that can and should be followed to make the title work as hard as it can.

For instance, it’s one thing to “Google” a title to see about ownership, or whether URLs already exist. But what about going a step further to see how many people actively search for a specific word or phrase each month—a good indication your title will be “discovered.”  

It’s hard work to generate clever titles. We're not talking about overly creative titles that audiences will find hard to get. But instead, can filmmakers offer up clear titles that also exude the kind of drama and emotion that will lead potential filmgoers, and maybe even some big sponsors to say, “I’m in.”

So, can we all make the concerted effort to shun the “mysteries,” the “secrets,” the “journeys,” and the “discoveries” for more exciting and saleable options that truly grab consumers. The alternative only leaves films falling flat before anyone ever get the chance to enjoy them.


Submitted by Rich Swietek, Friendly Giant Marketing. Anyone wishing to talk titles with Rich can reach him at, on Twitter @FriendlyGiantME, or on Facebook at the Friendly Giant Marketing page.