film studies mini-glossary

  • Commercial Success: When a film makes money e.g. at the box office, on DVD or through streaming. Synergy is another way of evidencing commercial success when one media form sells another – an example of this could be a film and a computer game.
  • Saturated Distribution: Lots of advertising.
  • Cold War: A phoney war of intelligence between the U.S. and Russia in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
  • Mainstream Blockbuster: A big film going out to a mass audience.
  • Critical Success: When a film gets good reviews and can win awards.
  • Commercial Success: Makes money.
  • Non-Media Tie-Ins: Films that hook up with other outlets e.g. retail companies.
  • Product Placement: When a brand is clearly shown in a film after a financial agreement has taken place.
  • Genre Template: A platform on which to base ideas that most audiences are familiar with.
  • Niche Audience: Small, specific audience.
  • Iconic: Well known, recognisable.
  • Protagonist: The main character, often the hero or anti-hero.
  • Antagonist: The adversary that the protagonist battles with, often the villain.
  • Similarity and Difference: The way genre sells to audiences by familiar genre conventions but also little differences that may not have been in previous superhero films.
  • Binary Opposition: In direct opposition.
  • Intertextual References: References to other media (films).
  • Codes and Conventions: Features of a genre.
  • Genre Marketing: Selling to audience based on genre conventions.
  • Pro American ideology: America and American culture is seen very positively.
  • Anti-Hero: A fundamentally good character but who has a bit of ‘baggage’ and a rabnge of problems and issues.
  • Iconography: Familiar elements in the mise-en-scene that help identify genre conventions, sometimes through intertextual reference with other films.
  • Genre Marketing: When the genre is used to sell a film.
  • Maverick: Someone who decides to do things their own way.
  • Propp: Originally a character theory from fairy tales it can be useful in identifying different roles in films. Propp’s 8 character roles are: Hero, Villain, Princess, Her Father, Donor, Despatcher, False Hero and Helper.
  • Cultural Capital: The knowledge and skills that affect an audiences’ reading or understanding of a film.
  • Aspiration: Where audience respect or look up to something e.g. a representation of character.
  • Narrative Predictability: When audiences think they know what is going to happen in the story.
  • Single Stranded: When the story is focused mainly on one thing or narrative thread.
  • High Production Values: Big budget.
  • Three Act Structure: Films that have an obvious beginning, middle and end.
  • Wide Distribution: The film is sent out to, and seen at lots of cinemas.
  • BBFC: British Board of Film Classification – responsible for giving films their certification e.g. 12 or 15.
  • Cult: A film that has a loyal, dedicated following that often know everything about it.
  • CGI: Computer generated imagery.
  • Male Gaze: The pleasure of male audiences looking at, and sexually objectifying female performers.
  • Female Gaze: The pleasure of female audience objectifying male performers.
  • Franchise: A film franchise has a recognisable, and valuable brand identity which can be sold on and commercially exploited.
  • Hybridisation: A mix of genre conventions
  • Synergy: When one media form e.g. a film, helps to sell another, e.g. a computer game.

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