Style and Genre
Everything that goes on the screen or into the audio of a film affect how the viewer perceives it, so I think it’s important to talk about how genre is affected by stylistic choices, both technically and otherwise.
From the first frame of a film all the way to the end, the filmmaker has the rare opportunity to capture an
audience’s attention in a unique way. Once that interest has been piqued and that attention has been grabbed, the filmmaker can take the viewer down any number of paths he chooses.
You want to be good at indie filmmaking, right? What do you want to do with your audience once you have their attention?
Every film has some kind of goal in mind – whether it’s to tell a story, to depict a situation, or to confuse
the blue blazes out of anyone trying to make sense of it. We can classify our goals somewhat by focusing on
The main goal of a comedy is to make the audience laugh.
Thrillers and action movies put their viewers in suspense. They use different tactics to accomplish the same thing – thrillers tend to use mystery and intrigue, while action films employ death-defying stunts, high-speed chases, gunfire and big explosions.
Drama attempts to invoke an emotional reaction. This can be anything from sorrow to excitement to anger, depending on the story or idea presented in the film.
Horror films try to scare you.
Romance films tend to have those happily-ever-after endings that put you in a good mood.
Documentaries inform or educate the viewer.
Melding Them Together
You’ve probably heard terms like docu-drama, romantic comedy and action thriller used to describe movies. Many films like these blur the lines of genre, but all this does in essence is give these films multiple goals.
Often the perceived accomplishment of a film’s goal determines whether it becomes popular or does well at the box office and with home video sales. Take a comedy that isn’t funny, for example. While it might be an otherwise good movie with a solid storyline and good acting, if viewers gather in the theater expecting a laugh riot and they don’t get it, the film likely will not go over too well.
Your indie film probably doesn’t have to stand up to the pressure of being liked by millions of people, but if and when you do describe it to friends or family members, throw something out that’s easy for them to recognize. Don’t tell them it’s a gore slasher flick if they’re about to watch a romantic comedy. People like to know what to expect (at least in a general sense), because it gives them time to react to it more appropriately.
Do you have a specific idea to present? Some films are a simple portrait of a situation, without a solid, moving storyline or series of events. They depict a person or a group of people and how they interact with the world and/or with one another.
Do you have a story to tell? Do you want your viewers to feel something emotionally, or react in a certain way? Whatever your style and preferences are, you most likely want to create a film that lets you say something. You can always pull together a bunch of unorganized footage and make a collage, but if you know your goal it’ll be easier to make a film you’re proud of.
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