Within this lesson, we’ve been working on “Genre”. In specific, what it means, why it is important and studying certain genres – in particular: Sci-Fi, Western and Thriller as well as Film Noir to see how effective lighting can be.
Starting off with the session, we gathered up some of the genres within the Film & TV industry. Some of these include Horror, Thriller, Action, Romance, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Crime, Rom/Com, Film Noir & Western. We also had Adventure and Drama, however we decided that they were more known as the “broader header” meaning that they are in most films.
We gathered up a way to analyse what we look for within three different genres within the Film & TV industry: in specific, we worked on:
Within a Sci-Fi Film or TV show, usually the audience would expect some sort of futuristic theme, maybe with an advancement in technology including robots or aliens with possibly the idea of space as well. A good example of a Sci-Fi TV show is Doctor Who, as it’s set with a futuristic theme, and has aliens etc. For a film, it could be similar to Star Trek as it includes Space with an advancement in technology.
Within a Western Film, generally an audience would expect something to do with horses, cowboys, salons, pianos, hats, guns, sunshine and also the desert. Let’s not forget the most crucial part: Tumbleweed! You can’t have a Western Film without Tumbleweed! Generally the theme would be more old-fashioned rather than up-to-date. It would include a lot of things from earlier years somewhere in a desert. They’re not as common anymore as they have been.
Within a Thriller film, usually the audience can expect some form of implied violence. As well as that, there would be some form of a plot twist – the characters give away a lot about themselves within meeting them, and maybe the murderer is actually the person you least expected. The audience would usually also feel frightened by the location, however it would be something that the audience would recognise and feel comfortable/relatable with (e.g a normal every day house that you reading this might live in). Finally, there’s an impression that there’s a fear of the normal within this specific genre of film, you never know what could happen, even if it’s normal!
How do we analyse a film genre?
There are four different ways that you can analyse the genre and the type of film:
- Mise-en-scene – This means everything that’s been put on the stage (everything within the scene) and has a classic theme set up.
- Iconography – This means the objects within that specific scene. They can be props which are then followed by a Semiological Analysis or even the clothing of the characters.
- Narrative – This is what the story is about. For example, a Sci-Fi about fighting aliens would be defending the normality, a Western would be an Outsiders threat etc. This is also how the story is told which can be done through voiceovers or even idents (which is writing on the screen).
- Technology – This is everything that is being used, for example, the lighting within a film, special effects that are used and also sound.
Film Noir is generally very low lighting. By this I don’t mean like insanely dark or anything, I simply mean they didn’t use that much lighting within the films. Originally, Film Noir was a French name that was created and was officially the first genre. Film Noir began in the early 1940’s (during the World War II). It continued to occur even after World War II, and it became a huge success. Usually within the films they use blinds to create a visual effect of lighting, as well as choosing specific locations to put the shadows and where the main light sources are.
What is Film Noir? Film Noir Foundation Editors (No date)
Within our lesson, we watched the first 10 minutes of Double Idemnity (1944), The Maltese Falcon (1941) as well as Gilda (1946). This exercise allowed me to understand the way lighting was used within the Film Noir genre, and allowed me to see how the placement of the lighting within those films are effective in certain positions, for example, the lighting set a focus point, either in the background to form a silhouette or in the foreground to make it stand out more as well, shining straight on the object.
I found this task very helpful as it allowed me to gain a better understanding of some specific genres and made me actually understand I knew more about specific genres even though I don’t watch some specific genres that often!