DIY Film Tips #5 – Using Genre Conventions – Slices of Lasagna

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Genre Conventions: “I am whatever you say I am!”

When thinking about what you want to write about, take great heed from the classic conventions of genre. This can be a great tool in solidifying what type of film you will be making as well as help you structure the ins and outs of the script. For instance if you were going to shoot a movie in one room with two characters the film will be completely different based on the conventions you apply. If it is going to be a horror film you will most likely build suspense through the beats of each scene and have a lot of “shock” moments intended to scare the audience and keep them on edge. Or, if you’re making a drama, you will build up intense moments with close ups and tension, leading the audience along by making them empathetic to the protagonist and his/her situation. However, if you employ conventions of comedy you would want to keep your dialogue light hearted and fun, with long scenes that employ “beats” leading up to major “punch lines,” (actions and/or dialogue) that seals the joke.
Be careful though genre conventions can run a fine line between Archetypical and Cliché so bring a new spin to whatever genre you decide to go with.

For detailed descriptions of each genre please see Wikipedia’s list of Genre Conventions.

Genre convention may be combined of course and no film usually falls into simply one category so feel free to play around with the notions!
A great example of blending genre conventions is
“Back To The Future III”:
A Sci-Fi/Western/Romance/Comedy

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