‘The Dead Don’t Die:’ Why Genre Filmmaking is Back
Art and Experience: Jim Jarmusch made a career as an auteur filmmaker but even he knows the future of Hollywood lies in genre movies.
There is no easy way to break into Hollywood. It’s a complicated network full of ideas, egos, and even on a good day you need some magic to get your movie to happen. But what if I told you there was a way to definitely stand out. A way that even auteur directors like Jim Jarmusch were taking to see their projects get greenlit?
The way is thinking and creating in the genre space. And it’s paying off big time.
The Dead Don’t Die
In an interview with Film Comment, Jarmusch described what led him to this genre movie. “I wanted to make something entertaining but with some bite.” The Dead Don’t Die opens the Cannes Film Festival, and then hits at least 500 screens in France. It arrives in the U.S. on June 14.
The movie stars Adam Driver and Bill Murray as local cops who spring into action when a zombies attack the town’s citizens. Jarmusch shot the movie in upstate New York, and Murray went on record saying the director has “written a zombie script that’s so hilarious.”
How can you not be pumped for this movie?
I love zombie movies. Over the last fifty years, zombies have become part of the cultural lexicon. They’ve been part of the biggest shows on television and some of the biggest movies of the year. We’ve seen them be fast, be slow, and be all over.
Now it’s time for them to be in an indie auteur’s take on humanity and how we are all inherently sheep. In terms of inspiration, you have to look at the same Film Comment interview to see Jarmusch’s answer.
“I don’t know. I don’t know why I decide to do anything. Just the inherent metaphorical potency of zombies, especially now. All the behavior of sheep. Romero, too, focuses on consumerism as a malignancy. It’s a good metaphor, for sure, for now. They are kind of a modern mythology.”
While this isn’t a ringing endorsement for genre films, I can tell you that the movie comes across as both a commercial idea and one that can be done for a relatively modest budget.
One of the things we talk a lot about on this blog is that no one in Hollywood owes you a movie. This is both art and entertainment. So when you’re setting out to make something or brainstorming movie ideas, I implore you to think about genre movies.
What’s a genre movie?
Genre movies are movies easily categorized into comedy, horror, action, or other film genres. This easy categorization allows producers and studios to figuratively see the finished product before them. They know how to market it. They know the trailer. They can cast it easily, and they usually don’t cost too much to make.
Picking and pushing a genre movie will help alleviate the stress you’ll have in the marketplace. It will also be easier for an agent or manager to want to attach because they know who to send those scripts to and how to get those movies made.
While this all sounds like a lazy cop-out, it’s truly how things work in Hollywood today.
So if you’re sitting to write a screenplay think about what your best version of a genre movie can be and go for it.
What’s next? Learn how to write a screenplay!
Screenwriting is hard. But to become a filmmaker, you need to learn script writing to master storytelling. We’ll give you free lessons. Many people come to No Film School because they want to get information about cameras, gear, and screenwriting. We’re aware that the luxury of attending film school is not available to most of the world, so we do our best to keep you all up to date on what’s out there and how you can shoot and create with your utmost potential when filmmaking.
But what’s at the root of all filmmaking?
Storytelling and Screenwriting.
And before you can start telling the story on the screen, you need to tell it on the page. For that, you have to be (or to hire) a screenwriter.
So over the next ten weeks, I’m going to give a free screenwriting seminar.