Stupid genre questions ...



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  • Stupid genre questions ...

    1. I've been referring to two of my scripts as romantic comedies. Upon reflection, neither one falls in the least in the mode of Sleepless in Seattle, Runaway Bride, You've Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, etc. Is there anything wrong with just calling them comedies? One is close to farce, is that term not used in modern Hollywood? Or does it have a negative connotation? I tried tacking on screwball but that doesn't really get it either. If someone wrote something at all like "Bringing Up Baby," would you call that romantic comedy? I didn't write anything like that, just wondering.

    2. In the theatre we called a certain style Black Comedy. Is that term never used in Hollywood? I've seen Dark Comedy but never Black Comedy.

    3. If a script is not really a genre, genre, genre piece. How would you refer to it? Ex: The Exorcist. Calling it a horror movie seems to demean it to me. So how would you refer to a script like that? Or anything that reached far beyond generic labeling? Is there anything wrong with the simple drama, comedy designations? Now Sci-Fi seems pretty clear to me, it connotes nothing about depth, or themes, etc.

    4. I have designated a third script a comic drama (I hate the term dramaedy) but is that really necessary? Much good drama, as opposed to melodrama, contains comedy.

    Getting confused again about all this Hollywoodese.


  • #2
    3. Oh, Lil, you were just trying to get my attention, weren't ya?

    Simplest terms... simplest terms. If I had written The Exorcist as a spec and I was querying for it to a prodco, I'd call it Horror. Can you imagine querying for it and labeling it as a Drama With Horror Elements That Probes Into Matters Of Faith? Imagine the logline for that... (I'll leave that up to you... don't feel like putting any mental effort into it right now)
    Let 'em find out that the script transcends the genre and contains all sorts of depth WHILE they're reading it. Remember, your query is to get initial interest. Don't want them thinking too much yet. Just want them excited about the premise.

    And this stuff is incredibly confusing. But I enjoy being in a perpetual state of confusion, so it doesn't really bother me that much...


    • #3
      If I was pitching something like the Exorcist, I'd call it a Supernatural Thriller. Just sounds more high-minded that Horror. I have seen the terms Black Comedy and Dark Comedy. Also "edgy comedy" or even "dark edgy comedy." "Black comedy" might scare some people since they are pretty hard to do well.

      As for rom/dram/com, there's nothing wrong with calling your script a comedy. If it's a comedy where two people fall in love, then it's a romantic comedy.

      I have also seen the term dramedy used though personally it always makes me think of TV. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, but if it's a good drama with some humor in it, I'd just call it a drama and let the comic parts be a nice surprise.

      just me .02 4 ya.


      • #4
        So, sci-fi connotes nothing about depth or themes, hm ? Did you see 2001: A Space Oddyssy?


        • #5


          I think how you describe something depends on who you're talking to (but maybe that's just the Producer in me).

          My personal feeling is that 'Something About Mary' is 'Broad Comedy' with a little bit of romance that gets described as a RomCom wheras 'Notting Hill' is a Romance with a little bit of comedy that also gets described as a RomCom.

          If I may quote Richard Milhouse Nixon 'Basically you could say I'm a centrist but really I don't go for labels'

          I'm sure this probabaly hasn't helped in the least(:


          • #6
            Re: Genres

            Helping. Thanks. Soliciting more.

            You are due for a knock noggin, KSK2. If you weren't so ready, ready, set go -- you would never have made that assumption from what I said. I am not even going to attempt to answer that absurd challenge.

            Despite the bullfrog, you are not yet off the Good Guy probation list. Go to your room.



            • #7
              Re: Genres

              OK, back in the old days, we had something called a "screwball comedy" usually with Cary Grant or Judy Holliday in it. Where does that fit in now?


              • #8
                Re: Genres

                ribbit, ribbit...


                • #9
                  Re: Stupid Genres

                  As someone who has worked extensively in the "Stupid" genre, I would like to say...

                  Oh? Never mind!

                  I think genres just classify different story types, and there's a broad range of quality within a genre, as well as many subgenres. So THE EXORICIST and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 - IN 3-D are both horror movies, but one is a damned good horror movie and one is a cruddy exploitation horror movie.

                  I'd just look at a bunch of films like your script and see what people call them. If they call them dramas, you have a drama. If they call them comedies, you have a comedy.

                  I recently saw a film that was very funny - but overall it was a ROCKY-style drama about a kid struggling to attain his dream. The tone was serious, even though a couple of characters were really funny. I'd call it a drama because the STORY was a drama.

                  Hope this adds to the confusion.

                  - Bill


                  • #10
                    Wow. What a big question. Um --

                    There is a tendency (especially in literati circles), when a genre piece is good, for people to rip the piece from its genre and say, "Oh that is not genre, that transcends genre." That is genre snobbery though, the sentiment "if it is genre it cannot be good so if it is good it cannot be genre" expressed through a "the exception proves the rule" statement that is, well, dumb. If there is an exception, there is no rule. And genre is genre. And if a genre piece is good, that means genre can be good.

                    The Exorcist is horror. Is most horror really good? No. But The Exorcist is. And The Exorcist does not cease to be horror just because it is good.

                    Bringing up Baby is romantic comedy. It is a comedic story that revolves around a romance. That is what romantic comedy is.

                    Comedy can be a lone term. Planes Trains and Automobiles. The Third Wives Club. Home Alone. Midnight Run. Parenthood. Those are all comedies that do not center around a romance. So yes, "comedy" as just "comedy" exists.

                    "Broad comedy" usually means a lot of characters and diverse content. As a term is has supplanted the older term, "screwball comedy," but it is the same thing.

                    "Black comedy" is used. I think they said that about Fargo. It means "very dark." If you want to give me theater examples, I can attempt to explain the difference in use between theater and film. I have swum through both.

                    "Drama," as a term, is not often used unless something is sad. But everything is drama. That is a given. So if you go into a story description without designating genre, it is assumed it is "drama" i.e. outside a definable genre. That is why sales numbers on MovieBytes do not work. They are not marking anything up to drama unless someone says so and they are not double classifying when a work is both serious and genre. A romantic comedy they log under both romance and comedy, if it is just called "romance," they do not double log under "romance" and "drama." Which throws their numbers off in a big way.

                    Does any of that help, Lil?


                    • #11
                      A Comedy or Not a Comedy, That is the question

                      I see a lot of "Genre" and "Sub-Genre" references.
                      I see 3 levels; Global, Primary, and Secondary.

                      I interpret the Genre "Drama" as "Not Comedy", and these are the two Global Genres. Is the story meant to be serious or humorous? In the absence of either, drama is usually implied. The Primary Genre is the main theme of the story; Western, Espionage, Horror, Sci-Fi, Action, etc. The Secondary Genres are additional descriptives to the Primary.

                      So, the "Genre" would be: Global (Drama or Comedy) plus the Primary. The "Sub-genres" would be the Secondary Genres.

                      Title: True Lies
                      Genre: Action Comedy
                      Sub-genre(s): Espionage, Romance


                      • #12
                        Re: A Comedy or Not a Comedy, That is the question

                        Wow, WC, I had to go back and reread my post, to see if it was me --ie "stupid." I couldn't find anything. Then I realized I'd put the word in the title of the thread, meant to refer to me and my questions.

                        I've just gotten confused again and wanted to make sure I was representing the genres in the best and most currently acceptable ways. The genre descriptions do seem to be expanding a bit.

                        Funny, Gig, "genre snob." We come from the backgrounds we come from. I was used to "genre piece" being somewhat perjorative. Some writer's work stopped being described as anything - sort of became their own "genre." A Pinter Play, a Shephard, it's a Mamet or just plain Stoppard or Fugard. And some things were described by their historical period -- Restoration Comedy, or the movement they came from -- Absurdist.

                        Thanks for the imput.



                        • #13
                          Re: A Comedy or Not a Comedy, That is the question

                          Oh "genre snob" is a term I started using in honor of one of my lit professors. He was a GREAT teacher but he snubbed science fiction. Completely just wrote it off. Which made me crazy, that he would dismiss an entire genre and he did not even read it -- or when he did read it he pretended it was not even genre. Animal Farm is science fiction. 1984 is science fiction. We had wars. (smile)


                          • #14
                            Muddy waters

                            I came across this with my novel and the script adapted from it.

                            The book is classified as "Horror" pure and simple - ne debate.

                            The script has been looked at as an: action-thriller, action-horror, gothic action, supernatural thriller, thriller-horror.

                            (Hey Kosk - what would call the script you just read?)


                            • #15
                              C. J. Daly & E. M. Hemingway

                              Lil - Just having fun (as an expert in the Stupid Genre).

                              Genre Snobs:

                              Genre writing is usually the front lines - they win the battles for literature, but get none of the glory.

                              There would be no Hemingway if it hadn't been for Carroll John Daly who began writing genre mysteries using the language of the common man. CJD wrote short, terse, sentences using words that anyone could understand - he also introduced gritty realism to fiction. Homeless people stank in his stories. People sweated and pissed and everything else. He portrayed the world as it really was at a time when even "realistic" fiction was romanticized. Dash Hammett followed in his footsteps... then Hemingway wrote "in our time" about a year after Hammett created the Continental Op. Daly was the trail blazer - literature followed.

                              - Bill (who just deleted a whole section railing against John Updike because I was being counter-snobbish)