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Film titles

'View to a Bill'

That was a piece of copy I once wrote for an international credit card provider. It was for a website thumbnail that took you through to your card statement.

It's one of my favourite things I've ever written.

Film titles are a brilliant source of inspiration when you're fishing for ideas, because many of them follow a format that can be easily played with or parodied.

'The Woman Who...'

The Something Something Man'

'They Came From...' etc.

The titles of James Bond films are particularly good for parody. And laughs. Start with the impression of EPIC adventure, then sucker-punch us by combining with something small or mundane.

The Spy Who Hugged Me

Like this example, you're often creating a pun. I love a pun - old puns as well as 'current puns'. But their best use can be as a fun way to warm up the brain, rather than being an end in themselves.

That's the thing about a format - it gives us structure and familiarity that our brain can use to add something new.

Using Bond as an example again: I got to thinking about conversations in recent years about who will replace Daniel Craig, and how James Bond could be made more relevant in the 21st century. A female Bond? A black 007?

If the producers wanted to give audiences a more authentic onscreen avatar to realise their fantasies - couldn't the next Bond be a bit...heavier? Let's face it, to a greater or lesser degree, most of us are a bit flabbier these days. Especially after lockdown. So why not give us James Bond chubble-oh seven?

Then, if the producers were stuck for storylines, they could remake some of the old classics and just rename them:

  • Piefall

  • Live And Let Pie

  • The Pie Who Loved Me

  • Goldenpie

  • Pie Another Day

Or if you're bored of the pie trope:

  • Dr No…oh go on then, I'll have a dessert

  • Goldfishfinger

  • On Her Majesty's Secret Takeaway Delivery Service.....


I'm not remotely serious of course. It's just an excuse to make up a load of abysmal food-related Bond jokes to demonstrate how being punny is a good way to get the brain ticking.

And as a result, you're setting yourself up to spark off other (better) ideas.

Back to 'View to a Bill' again. Imagine the client wanted to take this beyond a bit of fun copy on a thumbnail. The best movie titles paint a picture of the story we're about to see. And your new parody film title could do the same.

Imagine the plot to View to A Bill:

A spy becomes immersed in the underworld, seeking out the credit card statements of a mysterious global syndicate. Our hero must find out what the minimum payment is for that month's bill - or humanity’s very existence is at stake. But with the clock ticking down, how will our superspy ever uncover this vital piece of information? Well, they could always click on the thumbnail.

There's your advert. Maybe. Point is, we've played with a pun and it's opened up the brain to create a silly nonsense film in our head. A film that does not yet exist (and frankly, let's hope it never will). But from the world of espionage and minimum monthly payments, who knows what new thoughts might emerge to solve our creative problem.

I'll leave you with my favourite film or TV mash-up from, of all people, my mother. She is a seasoned, accidental amalgamator of thoughts and ideas. Back in the eighties, there was an adventure series on TV called Bring 'Em Back Alive, about a wild animal collector in 1930s Singapore called Frank Buck (I know, different times). Mum became convinced that the show was actually called 'Man Buried Alive' - and it didn't matter how many times we corrected her. But perhaps her unconscious was just giving voice to what it felt about the guy for imprisoning all those animals.

Some people would kill to be that creative.

Need some help thinking of those film titles? Check out the links below, or head here.

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