Genre Research

Genre is about dividing media into appropriate categories that have different codes, conventions and expectations from audiences in order for the media to reach the right audience and collect the best profits and ratings. This is especially prominent in film where genre is very clear cut and is used to decide the audience of the movie being made before its made. This also causes the audience to have certain expectations of the film they’re about to see when they purchase the dvd or the cinema ticket. This allows the producers of the film to easily asses what the audience is looking for and put the expected conventions into the film to get the best reviews and therefore increase revenue. This is good for the audience as it means they can easily asses the types of media they prefer to consume and pick out whatever they want to purchase according to the genre, and it is good for the producers as they know what their audience wants from their product and can cater to their needs.

The Thriller genre is all about emotional battles of wits between good and evil, heroes and villains and keeping the audience ‘on the edge of their seats’ which is done using the plot line, music and lighting. Thriller as a genre has been popular since before the film industry became popular. Lots of story books from the 18th century and before that have all the common conventions we have in modern thriller movies, such as the epic poem by Homer, The Odyssey, which was written in the ancient Greek era. This poem was later made into a play, which were a popular form of entertainment before movies and cinema existed. At the time The Odyssey would have either been called a tragedy or a comedy, as those were the only popular genres of the time. However his epic poem broke the normal conventions that allowed his work to stand alone from the standard of the time. Many people could have called this play an old time action adventure. I would say that today we could consider The Odyssey a thriller as the theme of constant battles of good vs evil throughout the poem and the use of emotion throughout constantly keeps the audience second-guessing what comes next. The book “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly was written in the 18th century and though it was released as a horror it has many of the conventions we today would associate with a thriller. In the book there is a strong sense of good and evil, alone with more emotional factors such as death and love. At the time the book would have been considered a horror but by todays means it wouldn’t even be close to a horror as our views on what is horrifying has changed drastically since the publishing of “frankenstein”. Today it might be a paranormal thriller, or most probably a Scifi thriller, due to the conventions of the mad scientist and the theme of science being ever present in the novel. it is a good example of a thriller text as though it was written such an age ago in the 18th century it is still widely read and enjoyed today and is still relevant to the world today to the point of being taught in schools and having hundreds of reboots in literature, film, TV drama, comic books and artwork.


(from the Tim Burton Disney movie Frankenweenie 2012. A readapted, rebooted version of Mary Shellys ‘Frankenstien’ novel, targeted towards children)

In more modern times of films, Alfred Hitchcock is a highly acclaimed director and is considered to be one of the fist Thriller directors, directing films such as “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and “39 Steps”. In the days of Alfred Hitchcock’s first movies, thrillers were expected to mainly be psychologically testing, almost like crime dramas today they had a sense of supsense. The audience expected the film to keep them guessing till the end. The Thriller industry was based on more intellelcutal movies that had shocking plot twists and took the watcher on a rollercoaster of different emotions. In the days of Alfred Hitchcocks movies age ratings weren’t assigned to movies and it was down to parents as to what movies they wanted their children to see, however most of the time children did not expect to be accompanied to a Thriller movie as they weren’t particularly mature or frightening. Nowadays thriller films tend to feature higher age ratings due to bloody violence and more fear being introduced into the plot lines, such as “The Woman in Black” 2012, that has gore, violence and fear from the onset, gaining itself a 13A certificate rating.

woman_in_black the 39 steps

The most popular idea of the film genre comes from the very popular and influential movie Scream, that came out in 1996 and has remained incredibly popular today, spurring 5 critically acclaimed sequels, numberous parodies and an audience as big as the genre it created, Scream was the first ‘Slasher’ film. A branch of of the classic Thriller genre,

The newly famous actress Jennifer Lawrence has recently rocketed in popularity due to her leading role in the thriller franchise “The Hunger Games”, however she has appeared in many Thriller movies before those ones such as “House at the End of the Street” playing the lead role of Elissa and has appeared in the “X-Men” movies “Days of Future Past” and “Apocalypse” as both characters Raven and Mystique. Her importance in modern media, especially thriller movies has made her a huge success, gaining a her a huge fan base and is a highly valued actress amoung directors as her part in a movie could potentially draw huge box office profits. this is because she has become connected to the genre, and therefore people expect what sort of movie it will be simply by the actress who performs in the movie. Her success can be highly accredited to her giant presence in the movie industry and she has received many awards for this, including an Oscar for best actress, a BAFTA and two Golden Globes.

SHOWBIZ Insider 092353

The film “Inception” is highly acclaimed in the eyes of most directors, critics and the public alike due to its unique plotline and how it has became such a classic hit. The new technology used on set as well as in film was considered groundbreaking for its time and thus it now serves as one of the modern classics of the film era. Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, became a giant hit from the onset as its fast paced, action packed, high budget trailer depicting New York city in a wreck of destruction and epic special effects took hold of its audience. Christopher Nolan, who already had a big name as a director by this point and Leonardo DiCaprio, who was then and is now to this day a highly cherished and talented Hollywood actor gave audiences across the world high expectations for Inception, and the movie, in my opinion, met the highest of expectations and deserved every praise it received. The movie is cinematic gold. From the top class acting from Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page’s excellent performance as the female lead role, to the flawless special effects to the seamless editing throughout, this movie gave Action Thriller a new meaning. This movie combines the old with the new of the Thriller genre. Taking some of Alfred Hitchcock’s desire to play on the audiences mind and drive the thrill of the movie with emotion and having the watcher questioning right to the end, Nolan blends this with more modern expectations of thrillers, a fast paced action movie lies beneath this epic mind puzzle of a movie, earning it all the praise it deserves.





The Hunger Games

House at the End of the Street


Days of Future Past


Subverting the genre and improving my film

The genre of my piece is going to be a thriller. After a class discussion I decided to make some important changes to my first movie idea to make my media project a little more interesting. I originally planned for my character to simply be in a nightmare sequence while sleeping at work so that by the time he woke up we could have his whole backstory. However I have decided to have only some elements of this remain in my piece, as my original concept was rather boring and very clichéd. I changed my original idea to having the nightmare sequence to happen while the character is at work to present the ongoing issues the character faces, and making it easier for the audience to understand. I believe having the character at a psychiatrist also will portray a lot more to the audience than simply having the nightmare such as that the character has an on-going mental illness that the character is struggling with this in day-to-day life. Also, seeing the character in his everyday attire will give a lot of indications to the audience as to what kind of person he is. I also believe that seeing the character in a very innocent and vulnerable state is going to get more of the audience’s affections for him and make them feel sympathy for him. I like this idea as normally in thriller movies the producers don’t try to focus on the audiences relationship with the characters as much as I believe they should, I feel if the audience has a strong emotional attachment with the character in my piece they are more likely to be moved by the piece as a whole and will be more easily influenced by events in the film. A good example of this would be in “Spiderman” as the movie depicted the personal life of Peter Parker, not just the acton packed life of his alter ego, Spiderman. This was effective at making the audience relate and empathise with him as a person and therefore they were more emotionally affected whenever he was in a difficult position. I did like this as a creative step as it meant that once a relationship was established between the audience and your character you are in a very good position to manipulate and influence their emotions. This is especially important for Thriller movies as the whole point of the genre is to keep the audience in suspense and to keep playing on their emotions.


(Here we see Spiderman and his girlfriend Mary Jane in the movie Spiderman (2002). The audience builds up empathy for Spiderman through them being able to identify with his ‘true identity’ Peter Parker. Therefore in scenes where Spiderman is with his girlfriend there is a sense of joy throughout the audience as they are happy that the ‘good guy’ is in a positive situation. Similarly when he is in a compromising situation the audience feels tense and upset because they don’t want to see someone they empathise with in a negative situation.)

thriller conventions

I had to think in depth bout how I was going to make my idea go from a storyboard to a film. I had to think about things such as locations, filming times and how I’m going to film it (the use of angles, camera techniques etc.). For example my original idea for the chasing scene was to have the actor run and me run after him with my camera. However in test shots I did while deciding these things I found that the outcome was very messy, shaky and looked very amateurish, leading to the viewer feeling uncomfortable watching such a disorganised scene. I took some influence from “The Hunger Games” movie “Mockingjay” as there were plenty of scenes that used the handheld camera in very high action scenes, in the movie I liked this so I decided to try it, however it didn’t work as well for me when I tried it as the look was just too messy. I had to think of a new idea to improve the outcome of my scene, so I thought about different ideas. One of them was to film my actor running on a wide shot with a stationary camera, however on film though the shot looked neat it also didn’t portray any emotion. I wanted to try panning the camera as the actor ran, I liked how this looked when it was a mid shot at it gave a rather interesting clip of the actor running, however it didn’t portray a very scary looking scene, it didn’t give the impression of being chased like what I wanted, so finally I had the idea of a dolly cam. The dolly cam looked much better on film as it looked steadier, and made it easier to watch and understand. I also like the smoothness of the camera shot as it gives a very high quality, almost professional finish. Though it takes a lot more time to set up and takes more effort to use, I feel like the dolly cam is worth the effort as it gives perfect results almost every time. I wanted to make the dolly cam scene a little more interesting and a bit scarier so I thought I might cut together the shots of my dolly cam and the shots of my handheld cam and see how well the results are.

I feel like this scene in particular is very difficult for me to make decisions about as it has the potential to look more like a horror movie than a thriller as being chased in the dark is definitely a well known and very clichéd convention of horror films. However I like how it fits the standard of a Thriller film in my movie if done right as it will hopefully have the desired affect on the audience. The reason why I want a horror convention in my thriller film is because like thrillers, horror films are very good at building suspense in the audience. I feel like if I can get this scene right it will set the mood for the rest of my film. The danger is that because of this scene people will misread what my genre is, I can prevent it from looking too horror like by simply making this the only scene of that nature, and have all the rest of them just being very high emotion scenes with bright lighting. I will also edit the chase scene with a piece of music in a major key rather than a minor, as minors are more often associated with horrors and major keys more often are associated with thriller and action movies. This will balance out with the horror film conventions.

Use of lighting is very important to a scene as it tells the audience some key signifiers, such as the time of day, whether it is indoor or outdoor, the light source etc. the colour of the light is also a key signifier. Testing my camera in different lighting conditions it was no surprise to find out that the lighting it gives the best quality in is natural daylight. This is good as it means that I can film outdoors in the morning till evening very easily, however it serves to be an obstacle in my filming when I need to film indoors or in the dark. I know that for indoor lighting it might be best to film beside a window, as this will give the best source of light, however there are some scenes that I need to film in darkness to give the right effect. This is serving to be a problem, as my camera will not pick up anything in the dark. I had been given several solutions, i.e., to use a small lamp so I can film, however when tested the lamp illuminated all the wrong places and when moved it looked obvious and out of place, also it gave off an unpleasantly coloured tinge that my camera picked up as a yellow-orange shade that completely ruined the mood of the scene. I asked a cinematographer what I should do with this situation and I was taught how to alter the brightness settings on my camera. This means I can film in the locations normal lighting so that I can film and then I can go back and edit my piece to make it dimmer and darker. This way I have control over how dark I want my scene to be after I have the film, so I can change it as much as I like without having to go back and re film it.

Thriller films are often associated with dimmer lighting but lots of shadows, this is often achieved in a studio by using only one source of light as it illuminates the scene but will not have any lighting to cancel out shadows. Sadly, I don’t have access to a studio, or to any professional studio lights; however, I know how I can use the same technique with my current materials. Different types of light connote to different things, such as a yellow light is like an indoor light, like a lamp or a light bulb, or an outside streetlight. A blue light is a computer or television screen mostly, though it is sometimes layered very subtly over a white light in studio to give the impression of a professional and clean environment, such as a lab or a workplace. A plain white light is usually used when the scene needs to be illuminated well, such as in an outdoors scene, or a cityscape. It brings a very bright mood if the lighting is bright and dark mood if the lighting is dark. However white lighting alone doesn’t really connote to anything without a scene that amplifies that mood, white lighting simply looks plain.



Buffam, N. (2015). Genre: Thriller – The Script Lab. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].

Free Online Film School: Learn Filmmaking, (2010). Film Lighting Techniques and Tips: With Pretty Pictures!. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015]., (2015). Introduction to Film Sound. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015]., (2015). Movies and Film: A Brief History of Sound in Movies. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015]., (2015). Main Film Genres. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].