Conventions Of Film
Lucy-Beth Pearl 1573
Codes & Conventions of all Film Trailers
Film trailers are the main way in which film producers can advertise their new film to a mass
audience. A film trailer is a video usually between the duration of 1-5 minutes which takes
the most eye-catching, dramatic and comedic scenes from the film compiled together to help
give a brief, yet informative introduction to what the film will be about. From the trailer we
will be able to tell the genre of the film, the audience to whom is being targeted, and most
importantly the main narrative so as the audience can grasp what the film is about, however
this will most likely be revealed in full in the full-long film.
In the opening of the trailer it is conventional that we see a green screen with information
listing that the following preview is approved for all audiences. This is referencing the viewing
laws surrounding films viewing. When we buy films on DVD they inform us before we watch
the film that it is for the buyer’s entertainment only. Therefore the certification that all can
view the upcoming scenes, allows audiences who may come across the trailer on the internet
that it is legal for them to watch the advertisement and also informs them that the trailer has
been put together by the film association who produced the film and is not an unofficial film
trailer like many we can find on video blogs and YouTube. An example for a film association
who demonstrates this convention is the Motion Picture Association of America. It is also
often that we see the production company logo appearing at the begging of a film trailer, a
small moving animation is often used as advancement from the basic logo. Company’s such
as 20th Century Fox, Paramount and Pixar are just some of the film production companies
who show this.
It is successful in allowing the audience to associate the trailer with another film that they may
be accustom to which has been produced by the same company, allowing audiences to feel that
they should like this certain film because it has been produced by the same association.
The film logo gives away more than just the film association; it is also representative of the
films budget, as larger film companies belonging to America we understand to have multi
million pound budgets for high profile films; however a British film company is likely to have a
lower budget, therefore reach a smaller audience. It Is also common that along with the logo
and green screen a certificate is displayed which states the age of the appropriate audience,
deemed by the Board of Film Classification. This ranges from U (universal) to the certificate age
rating of 18. This allows parents, teachers etc. to be warned of any text in the film which is
said to be inappropriate for a certain age group. A certificate is given on the grounds of the
presence of sexual references, drug use, violence and explicit language etc.
The main aim of the trailer is to interest viewers into the film so as they go and watch the film.
Therefore techniques are used within trailers to grab the viewers’ attention. A clear narrative is
shown by a beginning, turning point and outcome structure. Usually in the first few seconds we
as an audience understand the location, the genre and the main characters featured in the film.
Then, a turning point is shown, by the pace of the editing, and often we hear a change in the
soundtrack. This is where excitement is often given, and at this point audiences are drawn into
the narrative. Nearing the end of the trailer we begin to see the narrative settle, however never
is the plot given away. It is left to the film to deliver the outcome.
Either at the beginning of the trailer or the end, to persuade us that the film is worthwhile,
often we are shown on screen a quote of what a famous magazine or newspaper columnist has
said about the film. Only positive feedback is shown which helps in the persuasion of a fulfilling
film. As well as this the five star universal rating system is used to show us again what the film
is rated by film analysts, conventionally nothing less than a 4 star is shown. Well known film
stars are also listed on screen as loyal audiences may feel may be attracted to film because of
the cast starred in the film.
Codes & Conventions of Teen Trailers
Much like the conventions listed in the previous slide, teen trailers use very similar techniques to create an
informative, persuasive and engaging trailer. The main differences are that obviously, the trailer is being
put together for a younger audience, therefore the content will have been made appropriate for the under
18 category ,i.e. Appropriate language, minimal references to sexual content and no scenes including
visual violence, however the trailer has to be engaging enough to capture the older teens who are
beginning to explore these texts.
To be able to connect with the younger audiences, the characters in the trailer have to be relatable to the
target audience. Therefore narratives referring to school, the cliques which are formed, young
relationships and bullying etc. are some of the likely scenarios which may be touched on during the trailer.
The use of teenage cast members is one of the main conventions of teen trailers, to be able to relate with
a character in a trailer, it is important that they go through similar situations. This makes stereotypes very
important when the characters in the trailer are give a personality.
For example in the film ‘Mean Girls’ (2004) everyone who goes through secondary school life would be
able to identify characters who fitted each of the characters in the films stereotypes; the handsome boy
who plays sport, the popular girls who everyone wants to be and the groups who try to be cool and fit in.
An adult cast put in this situation would not be able to make a connection with the teen audience. The
younger audience who are experiencing these situations when they watch the film are more likely to find
the trailer engaging and something which may help them in their lives.
If we use the ‘Mean Girls’ trailer example again, we can see that narration plays a key part in helping us
to understand the characters and inform us on the narrative. The main character, ‘kady’ begins to narrate
to us her first day of her new high school. The fact that this is narrated, helps us to make a connection
with the character more than if we were just shown a selections of scenes.
The soundtrack also is very important in teen trailers. It is typical that in these trailers we
hear modern music which teenagers at the time of the release of the trailer would have
already heard, therefore would be able to identify with the film when they heard the song
being played. In the film trailer ‘Kidulthood’ (2006) we hear a grime/rap soundtrack which is
highly identifiable with young urban teenagers. We can see a contrast to film trailers which
have a target audience of adults, the soundtrack used is often very different, classical music
and early pop music is often featured as the soundtrack as this type of music is would be
presumed to be more favourable and enjoyable for the older audience.
Much like all other film trailers, the conventional narrative will show a clear, beginning turning
point and end outcome, in teen trailers it is uncommon that the trailer will end on a cliff
hanger, however will draw in attention by the audience being able to relate with the trailer,
therefore want to watch the film on its release.
Codes & Conventions of Genre Specific Trailers (Teen Drama)
The Mise en scene used in teen drama trailers is successful in depicting a realistic environment with
realistic characters. Drama trailers mostly focus on exaggerated and stereotyped characters to help
the drama become entertaining and attract audiences. If the drama shown in the trailer was what
the average person was going through then it would be boring to watch. Drama films and trailers
have to be relatable, yet dramatic and exciting enough to want to watch the film.
Teen dramas often focus on school life, friendship groups and relationships, however the narrative
often brings something new to the table which we as an audience would not have expected. This
leads to suspense being made and often the most dramatic and revealing sections of the film are
used within the trailer to make the trailer exciting and help to move the narrative on.
Along with this, the soundtrack within a teen drama trailer is very important. If at any point a trailer
includes an emotional scene where the produces want the audience to sympathise, and empathise,
slow, sometimes classical music is used to create tension and to highlight the mood and atmosphere.
The editing of the scenes as they transition is also very important within a teen drama trailer. It is
conventional that if a sad or emotional scene is transitioning, then fading to black and fading scenes
in and out is a common way of slowing the tempo of the soundtrack down, and also showing an anti
climax within the narrative. Contrasting this if key action is taking place within select scenes, then
lots of cuts and a fast tempo soundtrack would be used.
Drama trailers in general aim to represent and symbolise certain people and things in society,
therefore again, stereotypical characters, and realistic locations must be used to show a realistic
perspective of the trailer and the film. In teen dramas it would be most likely that the producers cast
a young looking set of cast members who would be suitable to represent the teenage audience.
Again, including all genres of trailers it is conventional that we see at the end of the trailer positive
review quotes from critics and a 4 or 5 star animation advertising to the audience that the film is
successful and worth while.
Codes & Conventions of Film Poster
After having conducted my similar text analyses I can now identify the codes and conventions which are present
in film posters. The most conventional feature is a large title which is often situated on the bottom half of the
poster to allow the for a tagline or critics review to stand out at the top of the page without covering up too
much of the main image. The title on a film poster is conventionally always in a large bold typeface which allows
it to stand out against the image and be big enough to spot when the poster is on bulletin boards around towns.
Often, like we can see in this film poster, the title helps to create the posters colour scheme – other text on the
page remains the same colour.
Another conventional feature are the credits on the bottom half of the poster. The credits include the directors
name, the cast, the producers etc. They are in a very small type face so as to leave room on the page for the
more interesting text, and images. At the bottom of the credits are company logos.
On many film posters a critics review with a star rating appears on the poster. Either at the top of the page or at
the bottom as this will mean that the title will be more prominent. The ratings used to appear on the poster will
always be positive so as to persuade and attract people to watch the film if others have liked it.
On a film poster there is always an image which will resemble the film being
advertised. Often if there is conflict or friction between characters the
protagonist/s and antagonist/s may be shown. This is effective because it
captures the characters role in the film in one picture and may have audiences
questioning the picture. If this is not present then a main character, symbolic
location or feature will appear on the poster to gain audiences interest. The use
of body language and facial expressions are important in defining the character.
Another convention used to gain audiences attention is the use of taglines which
often gives an insight into the film. These often appear just above of below the
title or at the top of the page. Often the tagline may be an open question which
may spark the audiences interest and curiosity.
For the poster to engage with as many viewers as possible the lead
actors/actresses are frequently used to increase the popularity of the film.
Having the well known actors/actresses named on the poster may create
conversation starters about the film, consequently the film gaining more views.
It is also conventional that the colour scheme on a film poster will mirror the
genre of the film. We can see in this poster that the poster is in grey scale,
which depicts the crime thriller and mystery present in the film. Therefore the
darkness may be representative of mystery etc.
The release date is also present on most film posters. It is mostly situated below
the credits or directly on top.
Codes & Conventions of Film Magazines
I can identify after looking at film magazines that a masthead is, without fail always included on the top half of the page.
It is conventionally in a large bold type face and creates the house style of the magazine, it also acts as a form of
continuity throughout each issue of magazine. As we can see on the magazine on this slide, the masthead has been
layered over the main image, which is common in many other film magazines, as it allows the masthead to stand out
most over everything else. Like in this film magazine, the masthead as been used to create the colour scheme on the
cover which aims to make the page as most aesthetically pleasing as possible.
A strap line is another convention which is mostly always used on magazine covers. On the magazine on this page it
appears above the masthead. Straplines act to engage the audience and entice readers to want to read the magazine. It
is one of the main devices in which editors will use to catch the readers attention.
The most prominent convention on all film magazines is the main image.
Sometimes more than one main image is featured on the cover, however it is
most common that we have one main image which is used to attract the audience
and displayed in full size over the entire page. This is because most people will be
attracted to the image before they read the headlines, so the image must be eye
catching. It is without doubt that the image on the cover will relate to an article
being featured within the magazine.
As we can see on this cover, puffs are also a convention within many film
A small animation or sticker like feature is layered over all other text and image
to urge the customer to buy the magazine. The example on this cover are the
buzz words ‘World Exclusive’.
A title will again always be a constant convention seen on magazines. For film
magazines this will most generally be the name of the film which is being
Featured. It informs the audience on what much of the content in the
magazine will be featured on. The title would conventionally compliment the main
Conventionally all magazines will include the issue number or date in a small type
face on the bottom of the cover near the barcode, of at the top of the page near
the masthead. Along with this we will see the price and barcode which are often
situated on the right or left hand corner of the page. A website address for
readers to refer to may also be featured on the top or bottom of the page in a
small type face to allow the most important information
to stand out.