Beginner’s guide to film genres – 7 genres every filmmaker should know about
‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ is a romantic film while ‘Hera Pheri’ is a comedy flick, we all have heard this and we all know why we categorize movies in this way. This categorization is what makes for a film’s genre. Most often the genres are simple, straightforward, and can be identified with the film’s titles too, but sometimes they get complexed.
Movie genres started as very simple and clear distinctions of a movie’s content and provided a context of what one could expect in certain types of genres. For example, we always knew horror films meant scary stuff, but not anymore because there is a complex sub-genre of this category that has recently emerged, called horror-comedy. Movie genres have also seen a lot of evolution and many hybrid scripts are now being written by screenwriters to enhance the audience experience and offer them something new.
But broadly there are 7 genres that every filmmaker should know:
This is one of the oldest genres known in filmmaking and also makes for a very popular one at that. As the name suggests, these films have a lot of action, fight, and stunt-based scenes and are usually fast-paced. These films thrill the audience and the hero vs villain narrative is mostly how the film’s plot is unveiled for the audience.
The sub-genres for action films include-
- War and Military Action
- Martial Arts
- Cop and Thief
‘Border’ and ‘War’ are examples of War & Military Action, there cannot be a better example to talk about Western action films than ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’, while all Jackie Chan films are a great example of Martial Arts action and ‘Dhoom’ ‘Singham’ and ‘Rowdy Rathore’ denote the typical Cop and Thief action genre.
One of the easiest to identify, love has always defined filmmaking very strongly. Romance also makes for a genre that gets easily mingled with other genres. There could hardly be a blockbuster without romance at its core. ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Dil Toh Pagal Hai’, ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ and the longest ever running film ‘Diwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’, are all proofs that romance is an all-time favourite genre. Even an action-packed film could have romance at the center of its script.
From old-time classic romantic films to the new-gen romance, it is a genre that never goes out of fashion. But again, with times, this genre has also evolved greatly, and some sub-genres have been added-
- Romantic-Comedy, popularly known as Rom-Com- examples include ‘Salaam Namaste’, ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’ etc.
- Historical Romance- ‘Jodha Akbar’ and ‘Asoka’ are examples of historical romances.
- Romantic Drama- ‘Titanic’, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’, ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ are all examples of romantic dramas./li>
- Romantic Tragedy- ‘Devdas’, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, ‘P.S. I Love You’ are some of the examples that showcase what romantic tragedies are all about.
- Chick Flick- ‘Pretty Woman’, ‘The Proposal’, ‘The Notebook’, which have female characters at the center of the film are some wonderful examples of Chick Flick romances
- Paranormal- ‘Ghost’ and ‘Dracula’ are the movies that beautifully depict what paranormal romances are all about.
This edge of the seat genre has always been considered as one of the most stylized methods of filmmaking. With huge doses of mystery, suspense, and ticking clock aspect, thrillers have come a long way and have now found their place in mainstream cinema. The thriller genre has these sub-categories-
- Crime Thriller
- Political Thriller
- Legal Thriller
- Spy Thriller
- Supernatural Thriller
‘Don’ is a great example of a classic Crime Thriller, while ‘Rajneeti’ falls under the Political Thriller category. Movies like ‘Waqt’, ‘Article 375’, that have a courtroom drama fall under the category of Legal Thrillers. What better example than the ‘James Bond’ series to talk about Spy Thrillers while ‘Ek Thi Dayaan’, ‘Raaz’, and ‘Kaal’ make for some of the examples for Supernatural Thrillers.
Film scripts that are set against the backdrop of sports belong to this genre. Some of the examples would include films like ‘Chak De India’, ‘Mary Kom’, ‘Laagan’ and ‘Gold’. The overall tonality of these films can be dramatic or comical, but sports form an integral part of the script. In earlier times sports were considered a sub-genre, but in current times with a lot of films focusing on different sports and the overall script revolving around the same, sports is one of the emerging and new genres that the audience has found a liking with.
One of the most straightforward and entertaining genres that have delighted the audience for years, comedy finds a liking across ages and is considered a perfect family watch. Some of the pioneers of comedy like Charlie Chaplin expressed humor through their gestures alone and did not even need dialogues to make the audience laugh. The art of making someone smile and feel entertained to the fullest is one thing that filmmakers strive to achieve through this genre and that’s one of the reasons it can never lose its charm.
Comedy also has a few sub-categories-
- Dark Comedy
- Romantic Comedy
‘Entertainment’, ‘Dumb and Dumber’ fall under the subcategory of Slapstick comedies while ‘Jane Bhi Do Yaaro’, ‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa’ ‘Delhi Belly’ showcase the darker side of comedies and ‘Hera Pheri’ ‘Dhamaal’ and ‘PK’ are great examples of spoof comedy. ‘Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani’, ‘Chennai Express’, ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and the ‘Munna Bhai’ series showcase romantic comedies.
The world of aliens, superheroes, and robots comes alive in this genre. Built on the concept of alternate realities, the sci-fi genre takes the audiences’ fantasy to another level. It allows the filmmaker to be as creative as he wants because this genre that has no boundaries.
It has many sub-genres, such as
- Time Travel
- Alien Invasions
- Space Travel
- Robots & Monsters
- Cerebral Science
‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Avengers are popular examples of time travel sci-fi films.’ Edge of Tomorrow and ET are examples of Alien movies while ‘Ra One’, ‘Robot’ showcase robots and monsters category, ‘Interstellar’, ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘Star Trek’ are all about space travel whereas ‘Annihilation’ and ‘Solaris’ are movies that literally bend our minds.
Although this genre is not everyone’s cup of tea, it dates back to the early days of cinema and has always found a sizeable audience that enjoys it. From the 1970s, this genre saw a lot of evolution and many sub-genres have been introduced since then. From just scary faces and a haunted sound design, the new age horror movies show much more than the typical.
The sub-categories include-
- Zombie Horror
- Folk Horror
- Body Horror
- Horror Comedy
- Found-Footage Horror
While ‘Raat’ and ‘Pari’ are examples of main-stream horror flicks, ‘Go Goa Gone’ is a zombie horror, and ‘Stree’ is one of the finest examples of the newly found sub-genre of horror-comedy.
As a filmmaker, one has the liberty to dwell into each of these genres and keep evolving them in order to offer an innovative and ever evolving cinematic experience to the audience. To get an even more detailed understanding of these genres and filmmaking at large, enrol for WWI Virtual Academy’s Advanced Certificate Program in Filmmaking.