Top 10 Directors in the Genre
Their Trademarks and Techniques
Name: Brian De Palma.
Born: September 11, 1940 in
Newark, New Jersey, USA.
Films: Directed 38 titles. Known for
Scarface (1983), Mission: Impossible
(1996), The Untouchables (1987) and
Trademark/Techniques: Often uses split screens in his
movies to build up suspense and/or convey story information.
This enables the viewers to decide what to look at and engages
them further in the story. (Used in the films Carrie and Dressed
To Kill) This is part of the Uses and Gratification Theory.
Name: Quentin Tarantino.
Born: March 27, 1963 in Knoxville,
Films: Directed 31 titles. Known for
Pulp Fiction (1994), Reservoir Dogs
(1992), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill
Bill: Vol. 2 (2004).
Trademark/Techniques: Revenge is a common theme in his
films and this will be the main premise in my product (Konvicted).
Characters frequently use the phrase ‘Bingo’. Also, briefcases and
suitcases have an important role to play in some of his films
including: Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
Name: Guy Ritchie.
Born: September 10, 1968 in
Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, UK.
Films: Directed 12 titles. Known for
Snatch (2000), Lock, Stock and Two
Smoking Barrels (1998), RocknRolla
(2008) and Sherlock Holmes (2009).
Trademark/Techniques: Often uses narration in his movies.
Frequently employs the use of high speed photography in action
sequences. His use of graphical and rhythmical editing creates a sense
of rapidity in his film and make it tense. Also, he often casts musicians
such as Sting, Madonna and Ludacris as their up-beat and hurried style
of music fit denote the genre very well.
Name: Martin Scorsese.
Born: November 17, 1942 in
Queens, New York City, New
Films: Directed 45 titles. Known for
Goodfellas (1990), Shutter Island
(2010), The Departed (2006) and Taxi
Trademark/Techniques: Often uses long tracking shots which is a
notoriously difficult shot to perfect. When done accurately, these shots can
connect to the audience much easier by showing the mise-en-scene. Frequently
sets his films in New York City. Also, he tends to begin his films with segments
taken from the middle/end of the story giving them a non-linear narrative, which
effectively increases the interest within the audience (Goodfellas and Raging Bull).
Name: Robert Rodriguez.
Born: June 20, 1968 in San
Antonio, Texas, USA.
Films: Directed 31 titles. Known for
Sin City (2005), Grindhouse
(2007), Once Upon a Time in Mexico
(2003) and Planet Terror (2007).
Trademark/Techniques: The protagonists in his films usually
dress in entire black. Often uses images of scorpions in his films
which could connote a threat using the Cultivation Theory.
Also, he is famous for working and delivering on relatively low
budgets (Sin City, which was his most expensive work, cost $40
Name: Sergio Leone.
Born: January 3, 1929 in
Rome, Lazio, Italy.
Films: Directed 32 titles. Known for
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
(1966), For a Few Dollars More (1965)
and A Fistful of Dollars (1964).
Trademark/Techniques: Often used the “Mexican standoff”
which Tarantino later adopted. Invented the extreme close-up in
western-style films. This shot is essential in the genre as a gangster’s
facial expression may portray a lot about the situation. What's
more, characters in his pieces frequently play a musical device with the
music also appearing in the composer’s score.
Name: Francis Ford Coppola.
Born: April 7, 1939 in
Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Films: Directed 73 titles. Known for
The Godfather Part I, II, III
(1972, 1974 and 1990) and
Apocalypse Now (1979).
Trademark/Techniques: Often casts his own real-life
extended family members in his films which I will also adopt as a
technique in my product. He includes the original author’s name in
the title of his works (Mario Puzo’s The Godfather). Also, releases
re-edited versions of his works years later (Apocalypse Now).
Name: Alan Parker.
Born: February 14, 1944 in
Islington, London, England, UK.
Films: Directed 19 titles. Known for
Evita (1996), Angel Heart
(1987), Mississippi Burning (1988)
and Angela’s Ashes (1999).
Trademark/Techniques: His films are often based on true
stories. Alan tends to include graphic and brutal depiction of
violence in his movies. Also, he is better known for the musical
of the film as they help to build up the suspense and support
the conventions of the genre.
Name: Sam Mendes.
Born: August 1, 1965 in
Reading, Berkshire, England, UK.
Films: Directed 11 titles. Known for
American Beauty (1999), Skyfall
(2012), Road to Peridition (2002) and
Revolutionary Road (2008).
Trademark/Techniques: Often begins his films with a
voice-over narration from main character and at the
end the character finishes his narration off in a very
similar manner. He uses a very slow pull in.
Also, borrows music scores from Thomas Newman.
Name: William Friedkin.
Born: August 29, 1935 in Chicago, Illinois,
Films: Directed 35 titles. Known for The
Exorcist (1973), The French Connection
(1971), Killer Joe (2011) and Rules of
Trademark/Techniques: Frequently uses a hand-held
camera in several action sequences. His films also
recurrently feature a crucial car chase which make them
more electrifying (Used in The French Connection and
To Live and Die in L.A.).
Although the gangster genre has seen redefinition and experimentation throughout the years, the six
main conventions which define the genre have remained (such as the
plot, motifs, setting, characters, themes and props). Furthermore, all the named directors have had an
influence on how we perceive the genre today. The mise-en-scene in gangster movies is important in
order to control the portrayal to the audience, and realism is also tied into this concept because it
allows the viewer to establish whether the setting, characters and costumes are realistic or not. This
also ties in with the Uses and Gratification Theory as the audience are receiving information from these
films and analysing them. One of the directors who I have researched that is well known for his
cinematography and use of mise-en-scene is Martin Scorsese, and I will use a variety of his techniques
when it comes to assembling my product Konvicted. In many gangster films, the mob is typically well
dressed. They frequently wear nice clothes such as a shirt and tie. Scorsese went along with this notion
in Goodfellas. All of the characters wore classy clothes and looked like they were Italian, so they could
be depicted as Italian mobsters. They have an Italian accent and many of their conversations are about
illegal activities that they would partake in. They give off a firm and fierce attitude to those who
wouldn’t know them. Lighting is also an aspect of the mise-en-scene which Scorsese expanded on. The
over-use of the colour red connotes a blood-like colour which gives off an impression of peril and
perhaps a notion of death which later followed. Additionally, the beginning scene of Goodfellas is a
flash-forward to a later part of the movie. Scorsese uses a strong narrative form to tie in the
significance of that scene in relation to what happens to the characters afterward. This is significant as
after the murder, it turns to the series of events that leads to the demise of the three main characters.
This is the idea I have for my opening sequence as it will commence with a flashback of how he went to
prison in the first place, then the theme of revenge later elaborates as a series of enthralling events
unfold in the narrative by cleverly using the theory of Todorov’s Equilibrium.