Genre conventions help film audiences know what to expect, but there’s a fine line between rewarding expectations and making something truly innovative…sometimes you must break genre rules. Consider this set of conventions: swinging saloon doors, grizzled men drinking whiskey, a lone stranger wandering into town on horseback seeking redemption accompanied by a haunting harmonica solo.

And compare them to these conventions: Galaxies near and far, alien races, floating cities of neon lights, laser gun battles, a cocky ship space pilot, and a hero with self-doubt. Despite the differences between these two sentences, it’s a safe bet to assume that both of them shaped well-known films — in this instance, a western and a sci-fi movie. But did you picture Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy for the second sentence? Read “Break Genre Rules Like a Master Filmmaker” with video examples at Premium Beat.


A film genre is a motion picture category based on similarities in either the narrative elements or the emotional response to the film (namely, serious, comic, etc.). Most theories of film genre are borrowed from literary genre criticism. The basic genres include fiction and documentary, from which subgenres have emerged, such as docufiction and docudrama. Other subgenres include the courtroom and trial-focused drama known as the legal drama. Types of fiction which may seem unrelated can also be combined to form hybrid subgenres, such as the melding of horror and comedy in the Evil Dead films. Other popular combinations are the romantic comedy and the action comedy film.

Films can also be classified by the setting, theme, topic, mood, format, target audience or budget. The setting is the environment where the story and action take place (e.g., a war film, a Western film, or a space opera film). The theme or topic refers to the issues or concepts that the film revolves around (e.g., science fiction film, sports film, or crime film). The mood is the emotional tone of the film (e.g., comedy film, horror film, or tearjerker film). Read more at Wikipedia.


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