"In space no one can hear you scream," from the movie Alien. This is probably the most famous tagline in movie history.
Script Taglines - Part I: Why create a tagline?
Before we get started on why to create a tagline let me explain what it actually is:
Taglines are short little lines of advertising you see on movie posters. Sometimes they are also used in movie trailers to hook an audience. So their purpose is to attract an audience to go see a particular movie.
Normally marketing experts create taglines with the purpose of luring audiences into a movie. So it’s not necessarily the job of the screenwriter to create one; but why should you do so anyways?
Just like creating a great title, a tagline can help you focus on your project, acting as your compass. And if you have a clear story and original high concept idea, creating a great tagline should come easy.
It can be a motivator; you can visualize a movie poster with the title and tagline. It helps you see the movie as a finished and appealing product.
A great tagline can help you figure out who you would like your target audience to be.
In creating a marketable tagline, you have to think like a businessman. You give the producer a possible way to market your movie. Even if they create a different tagline, put yourself in his or her shoes.
It is a nice add-on for a great title and logline when you pitch your idea. You are creating your own adverting for your screenplay. Not everyone does this, so again it allows you the possibility to stand out from the crowd.
A certain screenplay writer’s tagline ended up on the movie poster, which is pretty cool. Low budget indie movie producers might not be able to afford to hire a marketing expert to create a tagline for a movie, so it’s important to create taglines when writing.
Script Taglines - Part II: How to create a tagline?
You can do it alone or with someone who is a movie enthusiast or marketing expert or whomever, but most importantly have fun. Here are some often used ways on how to create a tagline:
You can create a rule of three:“Five criminals. One line up. No coincidence.” from “The Usual Suspects” (1995)
You can first create a factual description and then use your imagination to portray the story:“A romantic comedy…with zombies.” from “Shaun of the Dead” (2004)
It‘s great if it’s simple, short and easy to understand: “Hide your bridesmaids” from “Wedding crashers” (2005)
It can reflect on the tone and feel, genre, with a glimpse of the story – “In space no one can hear you scream” from “Alien”(1979)
They can be clever and witty: “The only way out is in” from “The Core” (2003)
You could create a connection with your audience and put them into the shoes of your character; your story: “What would you do if you were accused of a crime you had not committed…yet?” from “Minority Report” (2002)
You can tease your audience, create suspense: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water” from “Jaws 2” (1978)
There are many more ways as to how to create a great tagline, but the tagline should always be an extension of the title.
Script Taglines - Part III: Exercise, Tip and Selected Links
Create as many taglines as you can for your screenplay projects. Jason Byers, a professional Hollywood tagline writer, submits upwards of 50 taglines for a project.
Go to imdb or use the links below and read taglines to get inspired. Think about how and why they work; read taglines of movies from the movie genre of your project.
Great source of taglines sorted by decades from AMC.
A database of movie taglines from IMP AWARDS; starting from 2009 sorted by Best funny and serious tagline. There is also a search field and it features a yearly award for best tagline.
A list of the 100 best taglines from TAGL!NEGURU; voted by 500 advertising, marketing branding professionals.
An excellent selection of the most successful taglines with an explanation why they are great from gamesradar.