Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Genre)



  • Genre was brought about so that studios could standardise products and see what was successful
  • 1970s was when it was developed into actual genres with specific names etc.
  • Categorised based on common and recurring features
    • Stock characters
    • Themes (messages that the film gives off about the world)
    • Iconography (repeated images)
    • Mood (emotional setting)
    • Cinematic style (how films within that genre are commonly shot)
    • Plots, situations, issues
    • Music
    • Locations
  • In modern-day: films tend to not fit into one certain genre anymore, and differentiating them becomes difficult.

Para 2: Rick Altman:

  • Altman: critic who discussed the issues with modern-day genres, book Film/Genre
    • Addresses the issue proposing a “dual approach” called the ‘semantic and syntactic’ approach. Aimed to improve the “weaknesses of current notions of genre”
      • Semantic: Conventions of the genre that communicate to the audience (examples listed above)
      • Syntactic: Deals with the relations between these elements and the structure of narratives in genre
    • Outlined three main issues with today’s genre:
      • no single agreed upon way of determining which genre it belongs to
      • genres are no longer considered able to change over time, and therefore, their historical value is diminished (no historical development)
      • Two approaches to genre:
        • Ritual: ultimate agency to audiences, choices films audience wants to see, makes more of them.
        • Ideological: genre is a vehicle for rhetoric Hollywood, luring in audience and manipulating them.
    • The genre for our film followed the ritual approach

Para 3: Daniel Chandler:

  • Conventional definitions of genres tend to be based on the notion that they constitute particular conventions of content and or form which are shared by the texts which are regarded as belonging to them
  • Every genre positions those who participate in a text of that kind… (storyteller and listener)… each implies different responsibility for response and for action.
  • Other pleasures derived from sharing our experience of a genre within an ‘interpretive community’ which can be characterised by its familiarity with certain genres.

Essay Draft One:

Apply the concept of genre to one of your media productions.

Genre and its definition came about in the early 1900s, after studios decided that they wanted to standardise products, and categorise the films that were most successful with audiences. Studios differentiated the film genres by ordering them according to common and recurring features. These features included the stock characters, plots, locations, situations, mood and themes (how the world is portrayed to the audience). However, as time has passed, the definition of genre has become increasingly less defined, leaving room for debate regarding which films classify as which genre. This gradual change has not been popular amongst film critics and the general audience, as there is a lack of pattern.

One of the main critics of the modernised change, is Rick Altman. Altman discussed this issue in his book ‘Film/Genre’, where he proposed a ‘dual approach’ theory, claiming that it could solve the “weaknesses of current notions of genre”. The dual approach solution consisted of categorising films in the following two ways; semantic and syntactic. The semantic approach involves the conventions of the genre that communicate with the audience, whilst the syntactic approach is concerned with the relationship between these characteristics and the structure the narrative is expected to take. In relation to our film, this can be applied by declaring the semantic and syntactic values of the genre we chose. We gained inspiration from multiple Asian (Japanese and Chinese) advertisements, that we found all shared common traits. These are the semantic values, so for example, we found that the stock characters of the genre were a young child, and a guardian of some kind. The recurring theme of the ‘genre’ is that there are still good, generous people in the world, contrary to the popular belief that the world is decreasing in innocence and purity. The mood of all of the clips that we watched of this particular style, was that it was emotional and thought-provoking, in an uplifting tone rather than a melancholic one. Despite this genre having been subject to the gradual change within the genre field, each of them have these similarities, that enable the features to be identified as a particular style. The commercials that we watched, definitely exhibited characteristics from multiple genres, perfectly demonstrating the lack of order. Altman also identified that there were three main issues within this dilemma, which he stated were the following: that there is no single agreed-upon way of determining which genre a film belongs to, that genre is no longer able to change over time and it is cemented within the age it was created, restricting its historical development. The final problem that Altman addressed was that in Hollywood, genre is approached with one of two attitudes whilst producing films: ritual and ideological. In other words, the creators either attributes ultimate agency to the audiences, and choices the most popular films as rated by the audiences, and recreates more of them, or the genre is a vehicle for the rhetoric of Hollywood, luring in and audience to keep them there and subsequently manipulating their opinions. It is clear to see that our genre took the ritual approach, as one of the first short films of that type were created, and evidently evoked a large reaction from the audiences, that lead to further production of clips of that style. To illustrate, one video that we watched was based on a little girl whose father devoted his life to keeping her happy despite being unhappy himself, then shortly afterwards another production of the same style was released concerning a young boy who received the generosity of a stranger, and then went on to repay the favour by saving his life as a doctor. Daniel Chandler was also another critic of the problem of genre features, who says that the concept of genre is an important thing, and as well as pleasures received from watching the film, other pleasures are derived from sharing the experience of a genre within an ‘interpretive community’, which can be characterised by its familiarity with certain genres.

Whilst planning our film, we utilised our understanding of genre, to create a production that took a similar form to that of the Asian advertisements that we had watched. Carolyn Miller was a scholar who said that “the number of genres in any society depends on the complexity and the diversity of the society”. We saw this reflect from the commercials that we watched, as they conformed very little to a singular, broad genre. During research and planning, we concluded that the most relevant, well-known genre that we could display elements of was drama. However, following the structure of the inspirational videos we used, we were able to find some very specific elements to include, therefore, defining its genre. Others of these included, the cinematography, which was using hand-held techniques to create a gentle shake. Or, using slow, melancholic music that becomes more upbeat towards the end, composed with violins or piano. From our film, we hoped that the audience would see such features, and recognise that it was similar to other videos of that style. However, I believe that we may have struggled with this because the genre or style we chose is so refined. It would have been difficult for the audience to identify such qualities as they wouldn’t have been aware that they were commonly found within these videos. This is because we chose a foreign style, and as the entirety of the audience were from the UK, they would not associate that style with advertisements only shown in Japan. This is a perfect example that reflects upon Carolyn Miller’s quotation, as it shows that with a different culture, there can be different boundaries for genre.


One thought on “Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Genre)

  1. Leah

    The following is the exam board’s description of a level 4 answer, from the June 2014 mark scheme (

    Level 4 (21-25 marks).

    Candidates demonstrate a clear understanding of genre and relevant media theory and can relate concepts articulately to the production outcome, describing specific elements in relation to theoretical ideas about genre. Candidates offer a range of specific, relevant, interesting and clear examples of how their product can be understood in relation to relevant theories of genre. The use of conceptual language is excellent.

    Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriate to the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar

    I would mark your current answer as being Level 4, possibly 22/25.

    – Good work, Cannon. You main paragraph is impressive.
    – Get those last few marks by describing elements from your own production in more detail.

    Liked by 1 person

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