All films are classified by:1. Its makers2. Its marketers, reviewers and the BBFC3. Its consumersThese classifications (horror or thriller?, PG or 18?) havematerial effects on the ways we encounter, enjoy andunderstand film.They shape the status of the film; they determinewhether the film gets made and whether the film gets awide UK release.
This presentation focuses on „genre‟and ways of grouping films to createexpectations and evoke audiencefamiliarity.
Recommend a film task:How do you go about telling a friend about a film?What frames of reference do you use to help yourfriend understand what the film is like?
The word „genre‟ is simply a French word for„type‟ or „kind‟.The term has close associations with biologyand the classification of plants and animals.This biological association is useful as it helpsus think about how genres change, mutate andproduce hybrids.
Audiences often seek the pleasures of thefamiliar.We enjoy the ritual and reassuranceinvolved in knowing broadly what „mighthappen‟ in a particular film.
What „mighthappen‟ inLoveHappens?What are youbasing yourjudgementson?
What „mighthappen‟ inFright Night?What are youbasing yourjudgementson?
An important development in thinking aboutfilm genres has been to put them into thecontext of audience‟s understandings andactivities.Genres are no longer seen as sets of fixedelements, constantly repeated.They are seen as working with ‘repertoires ofelements’ or fluid systems of learntconventions and expectations
Film makers and film spectators are both activeon both sides of meaning making.The film maker can rely on certain kinds ofaudience familiarity to play with, and theaudience can look forward to having theirexpectations challenged or developed.
These genre conventions andexpectations include:
Narrative – how the stories in a genreusually begin and conclude, what kinds ofcharacters are at the centre of the film
Audio-visual codes of signification – aspects ofmise-en-scene associated with a specific genre;stars and actors associated with a specific genre(including directors and film productioncompanies)
Ideology and real world values – includingperceptions of how realistic the genre is seento be; and how it taps into the ideologicalvalues of the film audience.
Activity:Get the weekly listings for The Odeon and/or Cinema CityOrganise the films on show by genre (including films you consider tobe genre hybrids)What conventions and expectations do you think the films willinclude?Organise your ideas under the headings:NarrativeAudio-visual codes of significationIdeology and real world valuesHave a look at the “Story Types” worksheet. Which of Phil Parker‟sStory Types do your films fall under?