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By Akhil Pillai

The filmmaking world holds a lot of genres that are further classified into subgroups. The most trivial part when commencing to pen down a movie or a short film is to decide which genre to go for and then adding on any other necessary genre to spice up the storyline. Working on a specific genre means understanding the fundamentals of that genre and knowing the subgroups, then forming a plot around it. Some common movie genres and their subgroups:

Action Movies

In the action genre are evident by risk and stakes. While many movies may feature an action sequence, the bulk of the content must be action-oriented, including fight scenes, stunts, car chases, and general danger for it to be considered a part of this genre.

  1. Heroic Bloodshed- This action sub-genre is defined by values like duty, brotherhood, honor, redemption, and the protection of the vulnerable. It was initially created in Hong Kong cinema but has since made its way around the world.

  2. Superhero- The superhero movie is recognizable by characters with supernatural abilities who utilize those abilities for benevolent humanitarian altruistic purposes. If the film has superpowers that are used for questionable purposes, it would be more of a supernatural thriller versus a “superhero” movie.


The animation genre is defined by inanimate objects manipulated to appear as though they are living. That can be done in many different ways and could incorporate any other genre and sub-genre on this list.

  1. Claymation- Claymation is a form of stop motion animation, except the subjects used are built particularly out of clay.

  2. Cutout- This is where shapes are cut out and placed on top of one another to make figures and settings, all used to tell a story.

● Comedy

Comedy is apparent by events that intend to accentuate humor and make someone laugh. Comedy prevails in most movies, but if the preponderance of the film is purposeful situational humor you may safely place it in this genre.

  1. Slapstick- Slapstick comedy is defined by humor derived from physical movement, harm, or frustration that requires little to no dialogue.

  2. Spoof- A spoof is broader than a parody because it mocks an entire genre or collection of indistinguishable but separate works. Where parody targets a specific piece of art or entertainment, spoofs target the genre.

● Crime

The crime genre deals with both sides of the criminal justice system but does not focus on legislative matters or civil suits and legal actions. The best crime movies often occupy moral gray areas where heroes and villains are much harder to define.

  1. Caper- The caper sub-genre is defined by a group of criminals, often non-violent, who set out on a heist or job. A caper is often humorous and less profound when compared to the other crime sub-genres.

  2. Procedural- A procedural is defined by following the established day-to-day events of investigating, solving, and prosecuting crime. Procedurals often end in situations where law enforcement has learned a valuable lesson, but their lives may not irrevocably switch from each particular case.

● Experimental

Experimental genre is often noticeable by the idea that the work of art and entertainment does not fit into a particular genre or sub-genre, and is intended as such. Experimental art can forego a cohesive narrative in exchange for an emotional response or nothing at all.

  1. Surrealist- Surrealism cannot be stylistically defined, and this is the point of the sub-genre itself. Surrealist art intends to act as an activity to broaden horizons, either of oneself or others. Surrealist art often uses irrational imagery to activate the subconscious mind.

  2. Absurdist- The absurdist sub-genre focuses on characters who experience situations that suggest no central purpose to life. Another way to frame it is a set of experiences that catalyze a descent into nihilism.

● Historical

The historical genre can be split into two sections. One deals with accurate representations of historical accounts that can include biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. The other section consists of fictional movies that come inside precise portrayals of a historical setting. The accuracy of a historical story is measured against historical accounts, not fact, as there can never be a perfectly factual account of any event without first-hand experience.

  1. Historical Epic- A historical epic is the dramatized account of a large-scale event with an attached historical account. They often feature battles, romance, and story, and will commonly revise history or provide assumptions that fill in gaps in the narrative of the historical event.

  2. Period Piece- The difference between a period piece and historical fiction is slight; the main difference is a general omission or a lack of necessity for real-life characters or events to provide context. Period pieces are defined by merely taking place in and accurately depicting the period in contrast to specific lives, events, and accounts.

Western Genre

Westerns are evident by their setting and period. The story needs to occur in the American West, which begins as far east as Missouri and extends to the Pacific ocean. They’re set during the 19th Century, and will often feature horse riding, military expansion, violent and non-violent interaction with Native American tribes, the creation of railways, gunfights, and technology created during the industrial revolution.

  1. Epic Western- The idea of an epic western is to emphasize and incorporate many if not all of the western genre elements, but on a grand scale, and also use the backdrop of large-scale real-life events to frame your story.

  2. Empire Western- These movies follow a protagonist or a group of protagonists as they forge a large-scale business based on natural resources and land. It can also follow the creation of the railroad or large-scale settlement.

Above mentioned are some of the genres and their sub-groups. Along with them, there are other genres like music, war, and biopic. Choosing an appropriate genre is very important as some genres like horror and romance require more than just scaring or showing two people love each other. Watching movies containing multi genres would help open up the window to more content-related ideas and give the viewer an idea of how and why to choose a particular genre. It is not just the genre you choose but the content you build around it that gives the story life. The fun part about filmmaking is mixing up different genres in a single movie like crime and thriller or action and romance that the viewers might find more interesting. Conclusively, all that matters is how one tries to break down different genres and build up stories and direct them in the best way possible.


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