Monday, November 10, 2008

Self-induced genre restrictions.


I've been thinking about something.

A while back, I was introduced to a gentleman who hosted some sort of local screenwriting class in my town. I'm always ambivalent about such things, but I figured I might as well talk to the guy. We were at the gala our city's film festival, and the mother of a friend of mine runs up to me, entirely drunk, and says "NICK, You've GOT to meet this guy!"

So she drags me (literally) hastily over to this funny looking guy, who was apparently hard of hearing, and says "Such and Such, this is NICK, and he is a FANTASTIC writer and FILMMAKER." Then she walks away, leaving me stranded with this guy.

First question out of his lips: "Oh, what genre do you write in?"
I didn't know what to say, and I've been thinking about what would have been the right answer ever since.

Do you think in terms of genre when you write? I, personally, have never found a lot of value in that. Sure, at times I see the echos of a feeling of a genre in something I write, but I've never seen that as an epiphany moment, "THERE! That's what genre this movie will be!"

I've always just tried to be true to the story, characters, or ideas I'm trying to put out there.

When I think about it, it seems that maybe when writers think it terms of what genre their piece will be, they perceive a lot more criteria for the genre than is actually required of it. They limit themselves by more than is necessary to define the genre in the first place.

This could make for a lot of really boring (rehash, some might say) movies. If you ARE going to write in a genre (say, for example, that's you're assignment) why not backtrack, see what REALLY needs to be present for it to still be accepted as a genre, and PUSH that limit. Pear down the necessities.

Just make the damn thing GOOD.

I mean, look at Sean of the Dead. Zombie Movie? Yep.

Comedy? You bet.

But I'll be damned if that movie doesn't earn all of its payoffs just like any other movie, be they tender, comedic, romantic, whatever.