Reading back on my Statement of Intent from the beginning of the semester I’ve realised that the studio wasn’t what I had anticipated. I came into the class knowing little to none about Genre. I’d never been compelled by Genre per se, and that hasn’t changed over the past couple months. Yet I’ve definitely learnt about Genre in a way that I didn’t even know existed. I had entirely underestimated its importance to Western cinema, the Studio system, and how Genre played out much of the film scene. I feel like I’ve spent a semester reflecting on Genre as a concept rather than on Genre. It worked quite hand in hand with my Cinema studies class this semester which centred on Hollywood and Popular Cinema. And yet I’m struggling to write down on what I’ve learnt. I’m adamant that I have learnt something – so what is it?
- I’ve learnt that Genre is a lens through which we present a story rather than being the dictator of which stories we chose to tell.
- I’ve learnt that every film can be labelled with an array of Genres given the right arguments.
- Similarly enough, not every Genre is always considered a Genre, and yet we can lean upon sometimes fragile structures of categorisation if we need to for the sake of research or organisation.
But probably most importantly – the relevance Genre has to an audience. It seems to be an enormously powerful tool for accessing certain niches and addressing target audiences. Genre enables filmmakers to tackle certain ideas upheld by the tropes of these Genres by dismantling them or playing upon audience expectations. It gives the auteur, writer, or director, the ability to say a lot by accessing pre-assumed knowledge without having to spell out every idea and opinion on screen.
I had hoped to study the particular aspects of genre – learning the practical execution of aesthetics, cinematography, audio, narrative, etc. And in a sense we did do this through the project briefs. Although I’ll hopefully be able to learn these practical skills in future classes.
But what I’ve realised is the learning of these things often comes through the consumption of similar pieces through which we can compile the collected information and regurgitate it back out again. This seems to be what Genre film does – gobble up all the things we expect as an audience and then spew them out at us in a way that may question our ideas or tantalise the senses. An entertaining albeit predictable form of entertainment.