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The mise-en-scène of a film helps us to determine its genre (the type of film). Genre is very important to audiences (and therefore filmmakers) as it helps us to distinguish the types of films we may like to go to see.

You can tell the genre of a film by examining the mise-en-scène; the filmmaker will demonstrate the genre by the use of recurring motifs or clichés such as a full moon or a graveyard within a horror film. A galaxy setting and spacecraft would suggest the sci-fi genre. Genre is common to film and literary texts and is a great way of introducing students to textual analysis.

What genre do you think is suggested by the images below?

western scene horror scene

Below you will find our Genre Conventions Table for use in class. The table has columns for genre, typical props and objects, themes, characters, settings and plotlines. In class, you could screen a variety of trailers and students could use the table to interrogate each one and establish the genre using the table to provide evidence for their decisions.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Literacy Through Film

The British Film Institute (BFI)

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

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    Why use film to improve literacy?

    Watch this short video to discover how and why learning through film improves literacy.

  • Foley sound
    Foley sound

    This step is an introduction to Foley art, and has a video clip with Foley artist, John Fewell.

  • Stills from The Girl and the Fox that show different shot sizes.
    Developing writing through camera shots

    Linking camera shots and positions to still images in this activity, can provide a great writing stimulus in creating narrative.

  • Record and Playback
    Record and Playback

    An introduction to the technique of Record and Playback, a simple but very effective tool for curricular learning.

  • Two images each showing samples of a shoe box set design.
    Shoebox set design

    Making a shoe box set takes your pupils on a filmmaking journey that produces literacy outcomes, and is a great tool for assessment. PDF provided.

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