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November 23 2011 4 23 /11 /November /2011 00:15

In teacher traVancouver-Film-School-Summer-Intensives-2010_3.jpgining college in the 1960s I was trained by a team from Kodak to teach filmmaking in schools. Technology was very much celluloid and spools at that time, we edited tape by literally cutting and cementing the ends of the tape together.

The concept of digital was unknown then, but whatever the technology, the planning process for visual storytelling has not much changed. I am now a narratologist, fascinated by the science of storytelling. Breaking a story down into its component parts, as the storyboard does, highlights this technical aspect of narrative.

When writing fiction for any medium, the writer has to hang the story onto the technical frame, the plot, achieved by pace, tension, mystery and suspense. By that mysterious involvement of the audi3002426059_80015e2902.jpgence (the reader) with character, the success of their involvement depends on them caring what happens. That’s where my interest in audiences comes from.

Audience engagement is as important a component as theme, style, narrative structure in evolving genre theory, something frequently complicated by the film and television industries' constant reinvention of content and technology to stimulate growth and generate profits. 

Form, style, theme and mise en scene are all aspects of genre that audiences respond to. They are one key to understanding film genre, Stephen Neale suggests, that was identified early in the development of film studies as an academic subject. Neale quotes Tom Ryall's early discussion:

"He also makes explicit the importance and the role of the audience. And he offers a definition of genre itself. ‘The master image for genre criticism’, he writes, ‘is a triangle composed of artist/film/audience. Genres may be defined as patterns/forms/ styles/structures which transcend individual films, and which supervise both their construction by the film maker, and their reading by an audience’" (1975/6: 28 in Neale, Steve, 1999, Genre and Hollywood, Routledge).

And so we see the complicated equation that must be created for each new movie that emerges into the public domain. Just one of the many fundamentals that filmmaking students have to learn at Film School to gain their diploma or degree and become a fully trained professional filmmaker and find a job in fimmaking.

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