Genre Theory

Sorry, I didn’t do a plan. I started writing one but it turned into my essay!

Genre is the classification of films and other media texts through their shared characteristics. During the rise of the film industry, genres were created to help production companies quickly produce films, with known archetypes that gave audience pleasures. This meant that there was little time spent on considering plot lines and themes that would attract audiences, as they had already developed a set of codes and conventions they knew would be a success. For example, Western films were very popular in the mid 20th century, and the concept of a Sherriff preventing the town from a threat gave the audience pleasures. From then on, the majority of Western films were based around this concept, with slight variation to prevent the film becoming boring. This concept was suggested by Neale, suggesting that “genres are instances of repetition and difference” and that “difference is absolutely essential to the economy of genre”, enforcing that for a genre to survive, certain aspects must differ between films to prevent it’s downfall.

Genre films share similar iconography, they tend to develop similar moods and emotional settings, they share ‘stock characters’, and tend to be shot in similar cinematic styles; however this concept is enhanced more in different genres, such as Film Noir, than others. The film I created for my A2 coursework, Green Fingers, was planned to be a part of the thriller genre. The thriller genre includes a very wide range of films, thus making its codes and conventions more difficult to define as within the thriller genre there are many sub genres, such as the psychological thriller, action thriller, crime thriller and many more. The most common convention for films in this genre is that it creates suspense and a tense emotional setting for the audience. It also features the iconography of violence, tense music and quick cuts. Through featuring these conventions in my short film, I was able to create a film that I knew would be received well by the audience. This concept was considered by Daniel Chandler, who stated that “Conventional definitions of genres tend to be based on the notion that the constitute particular conventions of content  and form  which are shared by the texts which are regarded as belonging to them”. The conventions of my short film share the conventions of other thriller films such as the suspense built in The Silence of the Lambs, or the lack of continuity in Shutter Island; thus being able to group these films into one genre. He also stated that pleasures can be gained by the audience through sharing the experience of genre with others ‘within an interpretive community’, suggesting that the familiarity with genre conventions only enhances the pleasures gained from certain films.

Genre is essential for the marketing and production of a film, as the common conventions of each film ensures that any company can produce a film that features a tried and tested formula and will be able to attract an audience. For example; when researching into Thriller film posters for my A2 coursework, I compared them to posters of rom-coms, horror films and comedy posters to determine the characteristics that set the thriller genre apart from the rest. From my research, I determined that thriller posters featured a dark filter over a photograph of the protagonist, and also a bold font for the title of the film. By adhering to these set standards, I was able to attract an audience who had already determined that they enjoy thriller films, through having watched them and gained pleasures from it’s conventions. As stated by Knight, “satisfaction is guaranteed with genre”, and therefore by following the iconographies set in the genres marketing strategies, I have guaranteed that if a consumer was attracted to view a thriller film from previous posters, they will be attracted to mine.

Altman’s theory enforces the concept that genre was created as a way of institutions attracting audience members. This is known as a pragmatic approach. By combining the conventions of multiple genres, the film institutions are more likely to be able to attract a wider audience; for example, superhero films feature a variety of conventions found in several different genres. Take Spider-Man, this is an action film, featuring his love interest, with sci-fi like monsters combined with the comedy of the protagonist. By combining these conventions, this film will appeal to viewers of action, romance, sci-fi and comedy fans, thus increasing the companies profit. Bordwell enforced this concept by stating that “any theme may appear in any genre”, and thus complicating the rigidity of genre classification. Just because a film shows the majority of codes and conventions of one genre does not mean that it will not appeal to the interests of fans of other genres. Green Fingers follows this idea, as the beginning of my film starts off as if it were a drama film due to the slow paced montage and the calming music and therefore may appeal to fans of the drama genre. However this is then subverted through the mystery of the buried finger, building the suspense found in thriller films.


Age Rating Certificates

  • Universal certificate The film is suitable for all ages and is suitable for anyone aged over four years.
  • Parental guidance Some scenes may be unsuitable for young children but is safe for children over eight years. These films may contain infrequent mild language and possibly references to sex/drugs. The film may contain violence but it will be justified by the plot.
  • 12A These films aren’t suitable for young children. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult to be permitted to see this film, but it is unlikely to be suitable for them. These films can contain mature themes, discrimination, soft drugs, moderate language which may be stronger based on the context and frequency of use, and violence. Sexual activity may be briefly and discretely shown, and sexual violence may be briefly implied or indicated.
  • 12 certificate These have similar guidelines to the 12A films.
  • 15 certificate No one younger than 15 is permitted to view this film. These films can contain adult themes, hard drugs, frequent strong language and strong violence. Strong sexual references, and nudity without graphic detail may also be shown.
  • 18 certificate Films in this category don’t have a limit to the language that is used. Hard drugs are typically allowed and explicit sex references along with detailed sexual activity are permitted. Gory and sadistic violence is usually permitted and sexual violence (unless eroticized or particularly graphic) is frequently allowed.

Generally speaking, a lot of these ratings don’t really apply to my short film as it contains no drugs or sexual references. However, there is probably about one or two swears which was added in by the actors improvisation, which means my film probably wouldn’t be a PG as it is used in an aggressive light. The murder scene in my film isn’t particularly graphic so I don’t feel that it would be awarded a 15 or 18 rating. As the violence occurs out of aggression and leads to murder, I don’t feel that the rating would be suitable as a U or PG. With both of these factors combined I would place my film in the 12A rating, as nothing is particularly gory and therefore may be suitable with parental guidance.


Music Research

For my film, I will need to include different types and sounds of music to get across different moods. To find an appropriate style of music, I will look on Audio Network as it has a huge library of free, royalty free music that I can easily access. I also need to find some more daunting music to help build up tension and a sense of panic. I will also need to find some dark sounding music for the final scene where the murder takes place.


My favourite piece for the jolly music ‘Resignation’ as it has a really gentle pace but is also quite uplifting, which is exactly the kind of style I’m going for.

I quite like all of the darker music, and I feel that now I’ve got a collection of music pieces to use I can decide which one suits my film best when it comes to editing. A dark piece of music will be essential to my film because without it, it would be difficult to create a dark tone to my film.

I feel like this has been a really helpful piece of research, as it will save me a lot of time when editing.



Genre Research – Thriller

I have decided to re watch A Good Marriage since it follows a similar structure to the idea of my film, in the sense that everything starts off seeming normal and happy, which turns into quite a dark twist.

The plot is as follows:

The film is about a happily married couple (Bob and Darcy) and begins the story at the celebration of their 25th year anniversary. One weekend the husband goes on a work trip so his wife is home alone at the weekend, and whilst watching television she comes across a news story about a serial killer who goes by the name of Beadie; who tends to keep the driving licences of his victims so that he can later send them to the police as a way for them to acknowledge that he was responsible for the murders. Later that evening the television remote runs out of battery so Darcy goes to the garage to get some new ones. However, whilst looking for these batteries she comes across a small box made by one of their children for Bob, and when she comes to open it she discoveres the driving licence of the woman who was on the news that very morning. Obviously Bob (or Beadie) was very meticulous about his serial killer stash, and notices that the rubber bands that held the licences together was wrapped differently to how he usually does, so he realises that his wife now knows his secret. Through the film we see Bobs manipulative and controlling nature, and he tells Darcy that she’d effectively ruin her and her children’s lives if she reveals Beadies identity to the police so she agrees to keep it quite. Eventually, she decides she can’t live with the guilt of this huge secret again so instead of coming clean, she decides to get Bob drunk, push him down the stairs and then suffocates him until he dies. So at least through this method their children still see him as the loving man he always was and poor Darcy doesn’t have to share the bed with a serial killer.

There are lots of elements to this film which I could utilise, as there were times where it wasn’t clear whether the scene was actually taking place or just in Darcy’s imagination, which I could feature in my film to show how the elderly man overreacts to when anyone comes into contact with his allotment. This is done by acting out a scene and then cutting back to the start of the scene, and showing the actor react to that happened in the imaginary scene. This could be effective to show the mans frustration and his anxiety towards the secret buried under his plants. The film also features many canted angles and simply shots filmed from odd places to enforce the sense of disorientation, which I could feature in my film to suggest the elderly mans panic towards the dog walker.

Through watching a thriller film, I have been able to understand how they build up tension just as I wish to create tension in my short film when the audience realises that the elderly man isn’t all who he seems to be. Also by watching this film, I have been able to see how a sinister side to a character is revealed after building up the illusion that they are generally friendly.


Genre Research – Thriller

To begin to understand what is frequently found in thriller films, have decided to watch as many films in the genre as possible in order to get an understanding of the recurring features, so that I can make my short film as realistic as possible.

The basic plot is as follows:

A man named Trevor Reznik becomes responsible for a work lace accident when he accidentally cuts off a co-workers arm because he was distracted by an unfamiliar colleague named Ivan yet when asked, nobody in the factory knows of this man. We see him spend a lot of evenings at an airport diner speaking to a waitress named Maria who he formers a rather strong bond with, to the point that he is taken on days out with herself and her son. After spotting Ivan several times whilst busying about his life, he decides to track him down by taking his registration number to the DVLA, who tells him that they cannot give out this information unless a crime had been committed. So in severe desperation, Reznick throws himself in front of a car and reports to the police that Ivan’s registration was the car that ran him over. However in doing this he learns that this car belong to him and that it had been reported missing a year ago, which leads him to run away from the police station in a haze of confusion. He shows up at a female friends house where she cleans up his would from the accident and cooks for him, and whilst at her house, he comes across a picture of a man named Reynolds stood with Ivan which of course sent Trevor into a fit of aggression and he accused her and Ivan of conspiring against him. However all through this commotion, she is continually telling Trevor of that photo is of himself stood next Reynolds but he refuses to believe it. He rushes to the airport to see Marie but he notices that she isn’t working, which is strange because she always worked at that specific time. After demanding to see her he is told by an unfamiliar waitress that a lady named Maria never worked their, and he learns that this unrecognised waitress is in fact the woman who had served him every day, not Marie. As the tension of the film progresses we see Trevor murder Ivan in the bathroom, which is contrasted with flashbacks of the photo showing Trevor with Reynolds which presents the fact that Ivan replacing Trevor in the photo was completely delusional. We then cut back to the opening scene where Trevor is shows disposing of a rolled up rug which presumably has Ivan’s body inside, but as the rug unrolls we see that it is completely empty, and we see Ivan, alive and well, approach Trevor. It is then revealed that Trevor ran over and murdered a boy similar to Maria’s son a year ago, because he was not focussing on the road which was witnessed by the boy’s mother who looks identical to Maria. This revelation leads Trevor to hand himself into the police whilst accompanied by Ivan in the car.

I think this film fits the thriller genre because personally I found it really confusing the first time I watched it, due to the fact that the protagonists delusions were so strange, but after watching it for a second time it was clear that this film was incredibly well thought out! I think the main aspect of the film that made it a  thriller was that the true story wasn’t revealed until the end which enhanced the viewers confusion. I plan to include some element of mystery and confusion into my short film, as I will not reveal the reason behind the mans anxiety until the very end, building up the suspense found in other thriller films. The Machinist is classed as a psychological thriller, as it concerns the mental state of the protagonist; just as my short film will thus fitting it into the thriller genre, as it will be focused on the irrational anxiety that the main character feels towards his allotment.


Genre Ideas

To gather an idea for my film, I will consider the possible genres available to me and analyse whether or not I would feel passionate about creating a film within this genre.



An action film is typically what it sounds like; full of action. They usually feature ‘heros’ whose main role is to over come some sort of challenge, such as defeating a villain or saving the world.These humans possess qualities such as being greatly intelligent, strong and attractive. I feel like I would struggle to create an action film as the ones that already exist are frequently tentpole releases with big budgets and they often require a lot of special effects which I doubt I have the ability to recreate with my budget, time frame and experience.



Main plot elements include quests for lost continents, settings, or characters going on treasure hunts and heroic journeys for the unknown. Again, I feel like I may struggle to create an adventure film as I have a limited time frame and very few desirable destinations that are local to me which I could easily get to. However, I could take qualities of an adventure film, such as a kind of exploration that happens in local woods or beaches.



Also quite an obvious one, the film needs to feature some kind of humorous element. Now, since everyone’s sense of humour varies so much, different comedy films have different aspects that different people find funny. I feel like a comedy film would be difficult to pull off well due to this fact and that it may be a bit risky as there’s a large chance that maybe the examiner marking my coursework may not have exactly the same sense of humour as someone my age. Even with market research into what other ages find funny there may still be some risk involved.


Dramas are a more serious genre of films showing realistic characters, settings and situations. They don’t usually include many special effects and aren’t often based on action (of course the two overlap sometimes), thus making this seem the most easily creatable film genre; as clearly I have access to realistic people, settings and situations.

Horror films:


Horror films are created to frighten the audience and play on our fears by featuring supernatural monsters or gruesome experiences. I don’t intend on creating a horror film due to the same reasons as a comedy, everyone finds different things scary. However this time, I will need to create unrealistic life events in order to scare the audience which may not always turn out as effectives as I’d initially planned.

Thriller films:

Thriller films use the manipulation of tense atmospheres to captivate the audience and generally keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Usually, thrillers can be linked to crime and horror films to drive the plot further towards a dramatic climax, where usually any hidden information is finally revealed.



Science fiction films deal with a great number of things based on depictions of phenomena that are not fully accepted by mainstream science, including aliens, time travel, robots etc. I feel like if I were to create a film within this genre, I would need to spend a huge amount of time in post production in order to create these out of the ordinary phenomena, regardless of the fact that I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Historical films and Western:


As with the title, these films are either set in the past or in the wild west and deal with the social and political issues of these settings. My biggest issue with producing a film within these genres is that a huge deal of effort would need to be put into ensuring that no modern day equipment or clothing are featured in my film, not to mention creating realistic looking settings.

Through my analysis of each genre idea, I have decided that a drama would be the most appropriate genre to fit my film into. I liked the idea of thriller however my AS coursework was a thriller theme and I’d like to experiment a little as a drama film would be completely different.