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Film Genres

This guide highlights library resources for some of the more popular film genres.

A quick definition for amateur film

A set of practices of non-professional or hobbyist filmmaking, often (as home movies) recording family and leisure activities, but also including local newsreels, films of amateur dramatic productions, home-made pornography, and films of all kinds by members of film societies. The scale and nature of amateur film is closely associated with developments in dedicated consumer technologies. While the standardization of the 16mm film format in 1923 opened filmmaking to non-professionals, amateur film largely remained the province of the technically oriented (and the well-off) until after World War II. In consumer societies like the USA’s, home moviemaking saw a sharp rise in the 1950s: simpler 8mm cameras were introduced and found a ready market, while suggestions of suitable subjects, techniques, and approaches for personal moviemaking featured in home and family magazines as well as in the technical press. The market has since been continually renewed by the introduction of new technologies, from the super-8mm camera to the home video camera, the digital camcorder, and the smartphone. Amateur filmmaking technologies have been, and continue to be, deployed for a wide range of purposes beyond home, family, and local community–from experimental and avant-garde filmmaking to ethnographic film and political campaigning; and amateur films of all kinds can be disseminated and viewed on the internet (see Youtube). Old personal films are collected by a number of local and regional film archives, and figure regularly in fiction and documentary films and television programmes as a means of evoking memory and nostalgia.

In film studies, amateur film is studied (often under the rubric of personal film) in terms of its history, its technologies, and its aesthetics; while anthropologists and other social scientists studying ‘home mode imagery’ consider how it works as a social practice—as a distinctive form of visual communication, in relation to its place in consumer culture, and in terms of the everyday uses of its technologies. See also machinima.

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Amateur film. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 Apr. 2023

Finding library resources for amateur films

To find what we have in the Library's collection, you can do a subject search for "amateur films" in the online catalog. That search will show you what film titles are classified as amateur films as well as books and other items about them.

As you look at the list under amateur films, the subject headings which include "history and criticism" talk about the genre itself. The headings which also include a country name are specifically talking about amateur films in that country.

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Finding scholarly articles for amateur films

Articles and other writings about movies can be found in many publications. Our collection does not include a journal or magazine which looks exclusively at amateur films. Other film journals within our collection will cover amateur films. You can use Film & Television Literature Index to find relevant articles.

Selected movie titles

Find more amateur films in the online catalog.