On curlews and other birds

I’ve been making short films for other people and organisations for over a year now. So much so that my work is getting shown and distributed by those other people. So it seems to me like it’s the right time to start to build a brand. That way new people might want to commission me.

This is not easy. Whilst I have worked with some very capable and creative marketing people, their marketing skills do not appear to have rubbed off on me and I have discovered that finding a name to operate under is just as hard as naming your children.1

“Werner Herzog Film Productions” is a great name but it won’t work for me. There’s only one Werner Herzog but there are 3 billion Alistair Macdonalds. And “Alistair I Macdonald productions” just isn’t snappy. I figured that I need a name that is easy to remember and type into a search engine.2

“AIM Films” is great. But it exists already. As does “AIM Productions”.

I thought I had a winner with “AIMless Films” but my wife said that this makes it sound like I don’t know what I’m doing.3

Greek mythical names sound good but pretty much any Greek mythical figure has a film company named after them. And, anyway, I’m not Greek.

Abstract names aren’t offensive but say nothing at all about me. And, again, most of them seem to exist already. (“Object Films”, “Square Films”…)

I thought of naming my brand after something local, but “Marsden Film Unit” sounds all weird. “Kirklees Films” or “Colne Valley Films” just don’t sound good to me: too clunky. Plus, I was rather worried about a name that made me seem too local. I didn’t want people to think that I only make films within a 6 mile radius of my house.4

Pretty much every good name idea I had when I was out walking got trashed the moment I got home and either typed it into a search engine or suggested it to my wife. Until one day, when I was out running on the moors and I stood watching and listening to the curlews.

Where I live, just below Marsden Moor in the West Yorkshire Pennines, curlews are pretty common. I figured that for many people around here, the curlew is a local bird. But it’s not restricted to the Pennines. You find them all over the coastline of Britain and across the globe so I figured that naming my brand after the curlew might resonate with local people – who I’d like to commission me – whilst not restricting me to local clients or subjects.

The curlew has a rather fantastic call, which at some point I need to get round to recording. It’s very distinctive and recognisable. Also, so far as I know, it’s not a bird with a nasty side to it.5 Nor does it have any stupid or unfortunate connotations. (“Albatross Films”, anyone?)6

It’s not a big bird either. “Eagle Films” or “Condor Films” kind of suggest a level of grandeur that I can’t really admit to.7

And, crucially, I figured that “Curlew Films” is nice and short and easy to remember and spell. And to type into a search engine. Go on. Do it. See where it takes you.


1. My wife will confirm that I was not very good at this.

2. “Alistair I Macdonald” will never be this name. Nobody ever spells it properly. Even when they are responding to emails from me, with my name in the address bar. I mean, come on!

3. There is an element of truth in this.

4. I would if I could.

5. I thought of “Cuckoo Films” too because of a bizarre local myth but there’s already a Cuckoo Films in existence. And, anyway, the cuckoo isn’t really a positive role model is it? It dumps its children in other people’s homes, those children evict the host’s kids and trick the host into rearing them instead. That’s just not nice.

6. Apparently so. It exists! What bad luck.

7. And they both already exist.

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