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Disaster Movies lesson 2: Codes and Conventions

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Katie Ogilvie

on 20 September 2010

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Transcript of Disaster Movies lesson 2: Codes and Conventions

Disaster Movies
Codes and Conventions What are codes and conventions? These are the detailed
'rules' of the genre. They are what we expect
to see in each disaster movie. ?
As a class agree on a
list of ingredients
for a disaster movie. This movie is considered to have been responsible for putting the disaster movie on the map and establishing it as a true genre in its own right. It includes almost all the codes and conventions that more recent disaster movies rely upon. Narrative Structure
of The Poseidon Adventure The structure of the story is a convention in itself. Luxury Liner New Year's Eve Giant wave Steaming too fast Capsize Small group
trying to survive ship sinking Will they
make it? THE BIG and the small Most important disaster movie convention – the pairing of the ‘big’ and the ‘small’. The disaster is the 'big'. The individual characters
are the small. Take 3 films from your list
and try to write a pitch for each one.
Use the Poseidon Adventure flow narrative
to help you to construct your pitch.
Try to construct a new idea
for a disaster movie.
Write a pitch for that idea. Watch The Poseidon Adventure
for the first 30 mins - and include the
capsize sequence. Things to think about ...
1. What were the film makers trying to achieve?
2. What were the film makers trying to say?
3. How does what we see on screen reflect this?

1. Cinematography (use of camera)
2. Sound (including music and sound effects)
3. Editing
4. Lighting and Colour
5. Mise-en-scene - the look and positioning
of all characters in each shot The Poseidon Adventure
features a group of 10.
A preacher
A cop and his wife
A pair of grandparents
A young brother and sister
An older bachelor
A young singer
A ship’s waiter
The wide group of characters gives the audience someone to identify with.

Stock characters or stereotypes speed up the narrative – they are not entirely strangers to us, because we have met the type of character before. That’s why
films use ‘stars’. the killing off ... Ten green bottles ….
Another convention.
Who do you think will die first?
Who do you think will survive to the end?
Watch the rest of the film and find out! Are there, or should there be, any rules about who is and who is not killed off in a disaster movie? In ‘Poseidon’ – 2006 – a remake of the original, the same codes and conventions are at work.
However – the special effects are more impressive and more grisly.
Only 15 minutes before the wave hits.
The survivors are all good looking and young – and there is no preacher.
Investigate ‘Poseidon’ (2006)
Find out:
Who financed and made it (production)
By whom and how it was distributed (distribution)
It is was a box office success (exhibition) (How and where did it earn its money?)
Full transcript