If you thought that I missed a few genres in my blog last week, it might be that they’re more classically sub-genres. The biggest difference between a genre and a sub-genre is that a genre is generally a tone or a feel of a film (and sometimes some elements related to those tones) and a sub genre is more related to Themes, Settings, Style or niche audiences that targeted largely by those themes settings, or style. Some sub-genres pair better with certain genres than others, and it’s common to have more than one in a film. More as we go through them.
Before we get started, this is not an exhaustive list. If I get requests, I may publish a secondary add on to it.
Crime is as it sounds. It’s a piece of content about crime. These generally have some level of a mystery associated with them. Noir could be classified a sub-sub genre of the crime sub-genre. Nearly all noir films revolve around crime (I know exceptions exist) but not all crime films exhibit the gritty darkness that characterizes Noir films.
What I’m about to say is purely a US distributor’s view on how we classify faith based films. When we refer to a faith based film, we mean an overtly christian film. They nearly always have a lot of overt bible references in them, and generally involve a fall from grace and a redemption arc. If you’re making a film about murderous nuns and sexual assault, it’s probably not a faith based film. Generally they have an inspirational feel.
Again, I’m not saying that movies about judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or any other religion are not films rooted in faith, it’s just not generally what we mean by Faith based films.
As an aside, authenticity is Important in these films. If you get things wrong, it’s easy to alienate this market.
So, I put LGBTQ+ here because as an ally and a member of a strongly queer community in my social life I’d rather use the proper term. However, sadly, when a distributor says they work in LGBT films, they mean films targeted for consumption by gay men. For quite a while they were the people who consumed the most content in this niche, and distributors figured out how to target them and make money getting them content.
Again, I’m not defending that, but it is generally what’s meant when you’re having these conversations.
As with faith based films, Authenticity is key. If you haven’t spent a lot of time in the LGBT community, you probably don’t want to make an LGBT film. This is probably even more important than it is with the faith based community.
Animated films should be relatively clear, although generally this refers more to western animation than it does to eastern animation like Anime. It can mean 2d, 3d, or even stop motion, but generally it means 3d and that’s where the highest demand is. Most of the time it’s family content, but there’s a bit of a movement building up steam to take it out of that sphere. We’ll see if it gets there.
I’m going to get nerdy on this for a second. Technically, Sci-fi is a subset of fantasy where there’s an extrapolation of real science in the universe building. As such, Star Wars would not be Sci Fi, but Star Trek would be. Technically speaking, Star Wars is fantasy action adventure set in a space faring culture.
But in practice, Star Wars would be considered Sci-Fi 19 out of 20 times. Sci Fi generally means space stuff to distributors. Aliens would be sci-fi as well. Shrink Rays are also Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi as are ice rays, multiverses, and a few other things although those types of films less likely to be thought of that by distributors.
As an Example, Futurama would be an example of Animated Sci Fi by anyone’s definition. While they take A LOT of liberties with the science, they also had Stephen Hawking consult on the show to invent new math.
Fantasy is things like magic, unicorns, orcs, centaurs, and the like. If you could see it in a dungeons and dragons game, a Brother’s Grimm Story, or Lord of The Rings it’s likely fantasy.
There are a lot of other ways one might decide to classify as fantasy, but in general that’s what distributors are thinking about with fantasy. Massively fantastic world involving some kind of magic.
People falling in love, generally with some sort of romantic foil, often a jerk of a rich, handsome boyfriend that the clearly much better Ted Mosbey of guy must win the girl away from that dude she’s been with for years just because the new guy is creative or something. Clearly not the favorite genre of this author and producer’s rep.
Romantic comedies can sell well, and romance in general can be very interesting when it’s paired well with other content and breaks the mold a bit. Also, it’s pretty common in content targeted at teenagers, and any sort of serial TV.
Movies at least loosely based on history, generally from the 20th century or earlier. Or, a movie about a real person of significance. Vice is a recent high profile example, or anything on the history channel before they started focusing more on ice road truckers and aliens than actual, you know, history.
Music would be something like any rockumentary you’ve ever seen, and musicals would be something like Les Mis, Dr Horrible, Aladdin, Mulan… I can go on for a bit here. (I would have listed Hamilton first, but it’s not a movie yet.)
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My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.
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