You know what I said about how the material you shoot makes up a big part of your "vision?" There are actually two parts to the material part. There's a) "What's the movie about?" which is what I went on about last time, and b) "What kind of a movie is it?" which probably should have come first because it's both broader and more categorizing.
Comedy directors do comedy. Action directors do action. Horror directors do horror.
Put the two parts together and you have a pretty good idea what kind of film you're going to see (or make). A comedy about how mankind confronts the end of the world ('The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy') is going to be different from a horror film about how mankind confronts the end of the world ('I am Legend') is different from an action film about how mankind confronts the end of the world ('Mad Max').
This is particularly poignant for me because I work mostly in commercials, where there's really only one part to the material part. The part about what kind of a movie (commercial) it is.
It makes sense if you think about it. Commercials are mostly about one of two things: saving money or getting laid (I'll get into that in a later post), and it really doesn't make sense to go, "Oh, Brian? Yeah, he's drawn to spots about getting 10% off."
In commercials, if you're considered a comedy guy –– as I am –– you're not really sub-categorized any further than that. Comedy guys do comedy. And have a really hard time getting invited to do special effects, action, food, cars, or any of the other categories. (Those are commercial categories,by the way. You might have noticed that there aren't a lot of horror, caper, thriller, disaster, spiritual, tragedy, heartfelt drama, coming-of-age, slasher, western, rom-com, or woman-in-peril commercials.)
Where was I? Oh yeah. The material.
The material you shoot goes a long way to determining your vision –– as it's ascribed to you. Not just by audiences, but also by agents, managers, financiers, and studio execs. So be careful. It makes sense to do comedy if you're working in commercials because so many commercials are supposed to be funny. But only if you don't mind being a comedy director.
Once you're categorized, it's hard to break out.