Genre Busting by Lucy V

2outland1You’ve heard the news … *THIS* production company or  *THAT* agent wants something  fresh, exciting or original … They want  a screenplay that’s GENRE BUSTING. But what does “genre busting” mean??

Basically, to qualify as “genre busting” you need to do the following:

  1. Take a genre
  2. Do something we don’t expect with it.

THAT’S IT. Seriously.

Good examples of genre busting screenplays include:

  • The unexpected, such as DUSK TIL DAWN – a mix of a Thriller & Horror, D2D literally changes genre just before the resolution in a very obvious and shocking way. And if you haven’t watched this movie, where the hell were you in the 90s?? Unless you weren’t born, I’m not accepting any excuses.
  • The clever, such as MEMENTO – a Detective Thriller, Christopher Nolan’s impressive debut busts the genre structurally, rather than with story devices (like Dusk Til Dawn). The main plot goes backwards, with the sub plot “Who’s Sammy Jankis?” going forwards, with both colliding in the resolution. Didn’t notice? WATCH IT AGAIN.
  • The pre-sold, such as UNDERWORLD – Vampires and Werewolves have always been great choices for Horrors, Supernatural Thrillers and Action/Adventures, but prior to Underworld, rarely appeared on the silver screen together. Creating a WAR between Vampires and Werewolves then was a masterstroke, building on the pre-sold myth of both legends and drawing them together.

Summing up the above then, you BUST the genre by using story, structure (or similar device) or by building ON myths and/or things your potential audience has seen before.

What a genre busting screenplay definitely IS NOT:

  1. Derivative of other hit movies or TV
  2. Have samey characters doing the same types of actions
  3. OR completely outlandish – the opposite end of the scale

Everybody wants a genre busting screenplay – that never goes away. So find your chosen genre, do something with it we’ve NEVER seen before and there’s a strong chance you may just find your writing in demand!


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