Genres are based on a set of narrative and stylistic ‘rules’ that filmmakers follow in order to deliver the ‘type’ of film that is expected by the audience.
By making a film in a particular Genre, filmmakers enter into a kind of deal with the audience in regard to elements that are present in the film.
Films are often advertised as belonging to a certain genre to let audiences know what to expect.
Genres can be identified by two main elements:
Style (media codes)
When you are describing a genre's style, you are describing what it usually looks like and sounds like.
For example, what kind of setting is it likely to take place in? What props or costuming are you likely to see?
Story (narrative conventions)
When you are describing a genre's narrative, you are describing the type of story it usually tells.
For example, What usually happens at the beginning and end of the film? What type of characters are usually in it?
Film Posters and Audience Expectations
Because we have been watching movies our whole lives, we are very good at identifying genres and what we might expect to happen in them.
For example, by just looking at a film poster for a film we have never seen, we can take a good guess about what it might be about.
For example, by looking at this poster, we can guess that it's going to be an action film based on its title, actor and props in the poster.
We could also guess a few other things about the film as well:
The setting of action films are usually in a city, or in exotic locations around the world. We would expect to see a lot of props such as guns, fast cars and explosions.
Action films are usually about revenge, or justice. The two characters shown here might be buddy cops who are opposite in some way but learn from each other to beat the main antagonist