in filmmaking

What’s in a name?

I was listening to an old episode of the Freakonomics podcast (which is based on the NYTimes bestselling book). The podcast and the multiple books that have come out in the past few years have been wildly popular; it’s hard to imagine a name OTHER than Freakonomics at this point.

But in the episode, one of the hosts talks about asking his sister for help in naming the original book. The term “Freakonomics” immediately leapt to mind, but there were also a bunch of other names that were considered, including:

  • Economics Gone Wild
  • Dude, Where’s My Rational Expectation
  • Bend It Like Veblen
  • E-Ray Vision

The publishers/marketers originally HATED the name “Freakonomics” and for a time, the alternates was seriously considered. But at the end of the day, they stuck with Freakonomics and the rest is history.

Now, in retrospect, all of those other names look TERRIBLE in comparison with Freakonomics. I mean, Freakonomics just FEELS like the right name. But that decision was not always so obvious, and certainly, they were going against the grain by choosing that name. Sometimes things that seem obvious after the fact are bold and dicey in the moment.

It’s interesting to think about because we’re in the process of making a film right now, and our tentative name for it is “The Primary Instinct.” I love the name – others hate it or think it’s way too vague. Worth keeping? We don’t really have a way of knowing. Sometimes you just need to make a decision and hope that it makes sense later.