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21 Famous Filmmakers’ Genre Secrets

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Genre gets a bad rap when it comes to movies and television, but these are the facts: writing good genre is REALLY DIFFICULT. Every bit as difficult as writing good drama!

Check out the famous filmmakers’ quotes below and see how many touch on the same things, including:

  • Why various genres appeal to certain audiences
  • How mixing up different ideas, threads, characters, plots can really help
  • Why genre does not automatically mean “dumb”
  • How zeitgeists can really affect the popularity of certain genres
  • Why you need to know what goes into various genres to subvert them
  • How it’s STORY, not ticking genre “boxes” that really counts

and much more! Don’t forget, you can sign up for The B2W Mailing List and get first notification of articles like this, as well as offers, tips and info NOT on the blog. SIGN UP HERE.

Do YOU know what goes into the genres, so you can subvert them??

1) Quentin Tarantino

“I’m attracted to this genre and that genre, this type of story and that type of story. As I watch movies I make some version of it in my head that isn’t quite what I’m seeing – taking the things I like and mixing them with stuff I’ve never seen before.”

2) Christopher Nolan 

“The term ‘genre’ eventually becomes pejorative because you’re referring to something that’s so codified and ritualised that it ceases to have the power and meaning it had when it first started.”

3) Zooey Deschanel

“I like romantic comedy as a genre, but I think it can get stuck in its ways.”

4) Joss Whedon

“Limitations are something that I latch onto – like working in genre, or if you’re writing TV, there are act breaks, there’s a length of time it’s supposed to be. The restrictions of budget and sets can be really useful. When you can have everything, it’s very hard to make things feel real and lived in.”

5) Bruce Willis

“The action film genre is gonna have to come up with some new bad guys.”

6) Lana Wachowski

“With a genre like Film Noir, everyone has these assumptions and expectations. And once all of those things are in place, that’s when you can really start to twist it about and mess around with it.”

7) Neill Blomkamp

“There has to be the popcorn genre element, or I don’t engage the same way. I like action and vehicle design and guns and computer graphics as much as I like allegory. It’s a constant balancing game.”

8) George A Romero

“If one horror film hits, everyone says, ‘Let’s go make a horror film.’ It’s the genre that never dies.”

9) J.K Simmons

“I’m not a fan of any genre but am a fan of movies that are intelligent and/or funny. That goes across all genres: a horror movie, a zombie movie, alien invaders, chick flick, or raunchy comedy. If it’s well done, I’m a fan.”

10) John Carpenter

“What scares me is what scares you. We’re all afraid of the same things. That’s why horror is such a powerful genre. All you have to do is ask yourself what frightens you and you’ll know what frightens me.”


11) Lena Dunham

“I think romantic comedy, when done right, is my favorite genre. It’s just a genre that’s very human.”

12) Brandon Lee

“Action-adventure, that genre, only works for me if you can care about the characters. If the hero’s not taking some kind of a journey, then there are no stakes – and no stakes, then you don’t care if he lives or dies, wins or loses.”

13) J.J. Abrams

“I think that even if you’re wondering if two characters are ever going to kiss, drawing out the inevitability is part of the fun. Whatever the genre happens to be.”

14) Jason Reitman

“I think romance is a tool, comedy is a tool and drama is a tool. I really just want to tell stories that challenge the viewer, move people, make you laugh, perhaps push an idea about being open-minded but never settle on a genre or an opinion. I hate genre. I like movies that are original in their approach.”

15) Ethan Hawke

“One of the things that separates a good genre movie from a bad genre movie, I always think, ironically, is when you care about the people. The dime a dozen ones are where you don’t have any awareness of the character.”

16) Robert Duvall

“It’s a cyclical thing. When they make one, everyone loves them. Different genres come around in succession.”

17) Josh Trank

“Filmmakers have to really find a unique take on something if they’re going to explore an already-explored genre of movies.”

18) Rian Johnson

“I do love science fiction, but it’s not really a genre unto itself; it always seems to merge with another genre. With the few movies I’ve done, I’ve ended up playing with genre in some way or another, so any genre that’s made to mix with others is like candy to me. It allows you to use big, mythic situations to talk about ordinary things.”

19) Gillian Flynn

“I think mystery writers and thriller writers – whatever genre you want to call it – are taking on some of the biggest, most interesting kind of socioeconomic issues around in a really interesting, compelling way.”

20) Drew Goddard

“A movie that’s about other horror movies isn’t interesting. A movie about who we are, is.”

21) Matthew Vaughn 

“People just want to watch movies that are entertaining, it doesn’t matter what genre it is.”


More on Genre on B2W:

Genre Vs Drama: The Difference Between Them

What’s The Difference Between Horror & Thriller?

Genre & Tone, A Case Study: BEETLEJUICE

Genre Films: Don’t Overthink It

Genre Versus Craft 

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