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November 1999, Week 1


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Oyvind Staalen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 5 Nov 1999 18:03:58 +0100
TEXT/PLAIN (56 lines)
On Fri, 5 Nov 1999, Ed Owens wrote:

> This raises the question that I have seen mentioned before (was it Schatz?)
> about how the genre is to be defined.  Do we watch movies and build the
> definition based on what we observe?  Or do we establish the criteria
> beforehand and then see which movies fit?  Either approach seems inherently
> flawed, and yet, one of the two must be employed....unless someone has a third
> approach...

Just thought I'd drop in, being a long-time subscriber, but until now, not
a contributor (some of you might say that it should stay that way but...).
I have been in film studies for about four years, up until two years ago,
when I finally was admitted into film school, the screenwriting
department. So I have been writing for two years now, and therefore been
in the developing stage of film making. And I been thinking alot about WHY
I write a certain piece.

Do I decide to write, for instance a war-film, and then decide characters
and story, or, do I decide to write a story about a leutenaint, risking
his life to rescue a soldier, so that the government can use him for
publicity? And THEN use the genre "war-film" to sell it?

I was very interested in studying the conditions for making films when I
was into film studies, perhaps because that was what I wanted to do
myself. However, litterature and teachers were mostly concerned with the
recieving end of the process, that is, what is actually up there on the
screen when it is shown. The auteur theory deals with the director and his
public image, but I don't believe that the reasons for making films is
dealt with in depth. The auteur theory is very suitable for writing
papers, but does it give any true insight about anything except insight
about the person who is writing the paper? So auteurs aside, what is the
reasons for making films for the persons who is writing, editing,
photographing, producing and acting in them? Is the concerned with making
westerns? Do they just need to make money? Why did they choose THIS film
to work on? On what grounds do they decide to go about their work? Do they
edit a western diferently than a war-epic? Of course, but is that because
of a deliberate strive for a certain genre, or is it because the stories
or the caracters or the scenario or whatever is different in genres? And
anyway, why is it that a western can be edited in different ways, and
still work as a western? Does any of this make sense? Just tell me to shut
up and I'll shut up.

Sorry to bother you with all this. I should probably adress this to the
psychology dept. and not to screen-L. Film studies is, after all, very
philosophical, and there lies many of it's qualities. But nevertheless, I
have seen discussions on why a the number on the license plate is lingered
upon in Psycho... Or, more correctly, the license plate is lingered upon,
and everyone takes for granted that it's the number that's important...

Thank you for your patience.
Øyvind Stålen

Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite