Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Researching your GENRE

If you are going to get marks for research and knowledge you need to clearly evidence your grasp of the genre(s if hybrid) you are working in. That would include:
  • useful genre resources: books + book chapters (or even samples through Amazon inside, googlebooks, kindle free sample etc); websites; newspaper sections; specific articles; fansites; YouTube videos, playlists, channels
  • films to analyse - and which you can actually access! Every group should look at least 10 from the genre - its a good idea to include Warp and Working Title in your search! - but the level of detail you blog on these can vary
  • history: key films, directors, stars, companies
  • conventions, including specific character types and narrative devices
  • distinct (from general examples) film opening conventions
  • typical age rating 
  • typical budgets and casting
  • box office record and critical standing
If you're working on rom-com or horror (especially slasher) then look for tags but also the blogs on these, eg BritCinema blog: rom-com, slasher.

Examine at least 10 within your group, and clearly summarise any distinctive elements or genre conventions you often see within openings for your specific genre. This often means particular narrative approaches and structures (perhaps a more detailed version of Todorov's concept - like Nowell's slasher structure) and character types (that may be also fit within Propp's model but have specific names for the genre: eg jock, cheerleader, scream queen, final girl).
You can again use a mix of detailed single film overviews and individual elements such as titles or sound.
This research really needs to be ongoing - it doesn't matter if it is simply ONE detail from a film, keep blogging on any findings that might influence your work. Editing is often improved by revisiting and reviewing openings you've looked at - if you pick up something new, add it into a fresh post, keep evidencing both your journey and how your research and knowledge is being applied.

Amazon is a good place to start a book search, so too Googlebooks ... but also your Library. Use chapter lists as well as book indexes to search for useful chapters or sections on particular films or directors. Books mostly won't use the word 'genre' in their title, so you'll need to experiment, and look at the categories your results appear in.

Its a good idea to identify Working Title and Warp movies from your genre!

Following initial research and feedback make sure you can access any films you've shortlisted to analyse. If ordering any DVDs or VoD, make this part of your film budgeting, and don't delay.
Many quality newspapers like the Guardian will have a section for articles on a particular film genre - look for links lists on my genre blogs, or search (eg guardian horror film helped me find this).

Reading box office columns (I also recommend The Guardian for this, as they cover UK, US and global) will help you find some very specific, recent analysis; is a good, reliable source; is helpful to deepen your understanding for the exam too. You can click through the column listings or try searches like guardian gant horror film.

Fansites (and social media pages) can be useful to help show how you've used and integrated a range of technology (evaluation question 4), including for audience feedback - but be aware that the level of language used on many online forums can be an issue. A sample search: facebook horror movie fans.

Be careful with the quality of sources. A search like slasher film conventions brings up lots of Prezis and PowerPoints on Slideshare - the quality is VERY variable! Make sure you ALL include some respected academic books as part of your research to ensure you don't rely on such material.

You can find the most recent, and upcoming listings by searches such as cinema release schedule 2016 and can try adding country or genre to this to narrow it down (eg slasher films release 2015). Sites you'll be familiar with like BoxOfficeMojo and The-Numbers will provide detail like this as well as all-time box office by genre. IMDB is another good source for lists. There are also many sites like FirstShowing dedicated to listing film releases. You can also look for a wider range with searches like horror films released since 2010.

You can gauge the critical standing of a genre by looking up the RottenTomatoes score of a sample, or doing a wider search.

You can dig deeper into distribution with searches like these:

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