Top 10 Directors in the Genre Their Trademarks and Techniques
Name: Brian De Palma. (Director/Writer/Producer) Born: September 11, 1940 in Newark, New Jersey, USA. Films: Directed 38 titles. Known for Scarface (1983), Mission: Impossible (1996), The Untouchables (1987) and Carrie (1976). Trademark/Techniques: Often uses split screens in his movies to build up suspense and/or convey story information. This enables the viewers to decide what to look at and engages them further in the story. (Used in the films Carrie and Dressed To Kill) This is part of the Uses and Gratification Theory.
Name: Quentin Tarantino. (Director/Writer/Actor) Born: March 27, 1963 in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. Films: Directed 31 titles. Known for Pulp Fiction (1994), Reservoir Dogs (1992), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004). Trademark/Techniques: Revenge is a common theme in his films and this will be the main premise in my product (Konvicted). Characters frequently use the phrase Bingo. Also, briefcases and suitcases have an important role to play in some of his films including: Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
Name: Guy Ritchie. (Director/Writer/Producer) Born: September 10, 1968 in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, UK. Films: Directed 12 titles. Known for Snatch (2000), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), RocknRolla (2008) and Sherlock Holmes (2009). Trademark/Techniques: Often uses narration in his movies. Frequently employs the use of high speed photography in action sequences. His use of graphical and rhythmical editing creates a sense of rapidity in his film and make it tense. Also, he often casts musicians such as Sting, Madonna and Ludacris as their up-beat and hurried style of music fit denote the genre very well.
Name: Martin Scorsese. (Director/Actor/Producer) Born: November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City, New York, USA. Films: Directed 45 titles. Known for Goodfellas (1990), Shutter Island (2010), The Departed (2006) and Taxi Driver (1976). Trademark/Techniques: Often uses long tracking shots which is a notoriously difficult shot to perfect. When done accurately, these shots can connect to the audience much easier by showing the mise-en-scene. Frequently sets his films in New York City. Also, he tends to begin his films with segments taken from the middle/end of the story giving them a non-linear narrative, which effectively increases the interest within the audience (Goodfellas and Raging Bull).
Name: Robert Rodriguez. (Director/Writer/Producer) Born: June 20, 1968 in San Antonio, Texas, USA. Films: Directed 31 titles. Known for Sin City (2005), Grindhouse (2007), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) and Planet Terror (2007). Trademark/Techniques: The protagonists in his films usually dress in entire black. Often uses images of scorpions in his films which could connote a threat using the Cultivation Theory. Also, he is famous for working and delivering on relatively low budgets (Sin City, which was his most expensive work, cost $40 million).
Name: Sergio Leone. (Director/Assistant Director/Writer) Born: January 3, 1929 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. Films: Directed 32 titles. Known for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and A Fistful of Dollars (1964). Trademark/Techniques: Often used the Mexican standoff which Tarantino later adopted. Invented the extreme close-up in western-style films. This shot is essential in the genre as a gangsters facial expression may portray a lot about the situation. What's more, characters in his pieces frequently play a musical device with the music also appearing in the composers score.
Name: Francis Ford Coppola. (Director/Writer/Producer) Born: April 7, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Films: Directed 73 titles. Known for The Godfather Part I, II, III (1972, 1974 and 1990) and Apocalypse Now (1979). Trademark/Techniques: Often casts his own real-life extended family members in his films which I will also adopt as a technique in my product. He includes the original authors name in the title of his works (Mario Puzos The Godfather). Also, releases re-edited versions of his works years later (Apocalypse Now).
Name: Alan Parker. (Director/Writer/Soundtrack) Born: February 14, 1944 in Islington, London, England, UK. Films: Directed 19 titles. Known for Evita (1996), Angel Heart (1987), Mississippi Burning (1988) and Angelas Ashes (1999). Trademark/Techniques: His films are often based on true stories. Alan tends to include graphic and brutal depiction of violence in his movies. Also, he is better known for the musical of the film as they help to build up the suspense and support the conventions of the genre.
Name: Sam Mendes. (Director/Miscellaneous Crew/Producer) Born: August 1, 1965 in Reading, Berkshire, England, UK. Films: Directed 11 titles. Known for American Beauty (1999), Skyfall (2012), Road to Peridition (2002) and Revolutionary Road (2008). Trademark/Techniques: Often begins his films with a voice-over narration from main character and at the end the character finishes his narration off in a very similar manner. He uses a very slow pull in. Also, borrows music scores from Thomas Newman.
Name: William Friedkin. (Director/Writer/Producer) Born: August 29, 1935 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Films: Directed 35 titles. Known for The Exorcist (1973), The French Connection (1971), Killer Joe (2011) and Rules of Engagement (2000). Trademark/Techniques: Frequently uses a hand-held camera in several action sequences. His films also recurrently feature a crucial car chase which make them more electrifying (Used in The French Connection and To Live and Die in L.A.).
Evaluation Although the gangster genre has seen redefinition and experimentation throughout the years, the six main conventions which define the genre have remained (such as the plot, motifs, setting, characters, themes and props). Furthermore, all the named directors have had an influence on how we perceive the genre today. The mise-en-scene in gangster movies is important in order to control the portrayal to the audience, and realism is also tied into this concept because it allows the viewer to establish whether the setting, characters and costumes are realistic or not. This also ties in with the Uses and Gratification Theory as the audience are receiving information from these films and analysing them. One of the directors who I have researched that is well known for his cinematography and use of mise-en-scene is Martin Scorsese, and I will use a variety of his techniques when it comes to assembling my product Konvicted. In many gangster films, the mob is typically well dressed. They frequently wear nice clothes such as a shirt and tie. Scorsese went along with this notion in Goodfellas. All of the characters wore classy clothes and looked like they were Italian, so they could be depicted as Italian mobsters. They have an Italian accent and many of their conversations are about illegal activities that they would partake in. They give off a firm and fierce attitude to those who wouldnt know them. Lighting is also an aspect of the mise-en-scene which Scorsese expanded on. The over-use of the colour red connotes a blood-like colour which gives off an impression of peril and perhaps a notion of death which later followed. Additionally, the beginning scene of Goodfellas is a flash-forward to a later part of the movie. Scorsese uses a strong narrative form to tie in the significance of that scene in relation to what happens to the characters afterward. This is significant as after the murder, it turns to the series of events that leads to the demise of the three main characters. This is the idea I have for my opening sequence as it will commence with a flashback of how he went to prison in the first place, then the theme of revenge later elaborates as a series of enthralling events unfold in the narrative by cleverly using the theory of Todorovs Equilibrium.