Notes on Language of Film
The Language of Film article refers to film as having its own language. There are a range of techniques the film-maker uses to present a narrative (chain of events that are usually linked) through film.
The mise en scene is developed in relation to theatre. This is the visual content of what is on screen which to a large extent is how the story is told. The elements covered by mise en scene are setting, props, costume, performance, lighting and colour.
The setting provides the space in which all the other elements of mise en scene are situated. The setting sets up expectations for the viewer and instantly produces meanings and signifies certain things. This is especially the case for genre films. Typically, films use both studio sets and location filming, but many films from the Hollywood era were filmed entirely within the studio.
Props are inanimate objects within the setting. They may remain static or be used by the characters. They could simply be to make the setting more convincing to the viewers as opposed to being used for something in particular.
Costume is used to help create an actor's character. However, there can be some overlap between the props and costume. They can place an actor within a particular historical period, indicate social class or lifestyle, and even determine what is possible and what is not.
There is more than one way to tell a story. A film's form is a result of a multitude of variables which are themselves the result of decisions taken by those involved in the film's production. Decisions are taken as to how the narrative is to be structured and how it will be narrated. The content of each shot requires careful consideration, the result of which is the shots mise en scene. The techniques used to film each shot need much thought in terms of camera movement, angle and shot size. The editing together of shots and the use of sound also play a vital part in the construction of a film's form as they produce, enhance and communicate meanings which are vital to the film's story.
Notes on Creativity and Genre
in TV Crime Drama
Nick Lacey explores the creative potential of genre television, and shows how crime drama can still surprise, challenge and innovate.
New generic texts are usually constructed to be 'the same but different'. As genre theorist Steve Neale says : 'the repertoire of generic conventions available at any one point in time is always in play rather than simply being replayed... (2000:219)
It is highly unlikely that the success of the CSI franchise can be wholly attributed to its visual style. If a generic variation is going to appeal to audiences, it is also likely to express the zeitgeist ('spirit of the times'), so a genre text can seem both novel and relevant to its times. However, we cannot simply read society off a TV crime programme.
As the market for television programmes has become more global, there has been an increase in co-productions, particularly of expensive drama. An example of an innovative text is 'The Shield' (2002-2008), in which the protagonist Vic Mackey is portrayed as monstrously corrupt.
Creativity in genre comes from a variety of forms. But possibly the most important aspect is the institutional context; non-mainstream producers are far more likely to embrace difference and give creative talents the autonomy they require than the big networks are. Genres that are not creatively developed will inevitably lose their popularity.