The Fifteen Points of Mise en Scene

By Michael Hall, posted 19 September 2016

Deep focus mise en scene from Citizen Kane.

When it comes to a making a movie, the arrangement of a scene has a huge impact on the audience's perspective. If the audience is intended to feel a particular emotion, or notice a particular detail, mise en scene visually does the work. Without putting proper thought into these aspects, many key opportunities are missed, thus lowering the value of the scene and reducing its potential. It is important to pay attention to detail, no matter how insignificant it may seem. The layout of a shot gives it power and speaks volumes. Mise en scene allows the film to make statements and ideas without needing obvious, forced scenes full of information. A script receives its full value when mise en scene is properly utilized.

Mise en scene is the arrangement of a scene or a setting in a movie, play, or other production. Mise en scene involves everything seen before the camera - the set, the lighting, the directions, the costumes, the actors, the props - every detail the audience can see. Mise en scene is meant to envelop the audience and bathe them in reality. How can a production be believable without the natural details? Analyzing mise en scene in movies is important in order to grasp the idea behind each and every fine detail. With every motion and prop there is a deliberate purpose. Can you tell what it is? How does it affect perspective on the characters? Is the movie drawing the focus onto a particular aspect? Does this seem relevant? Will it end up being relevant? How did the camera angle affect the outcome of the scene? What lens was used to shoot? In the following piece, we are going to explore the fifteenpoints of mise en scene that are absolutely necessary to think about. These points include: dominance, lighting, shot and camera proxemics, camera angle, color values, lens/filter/stock, subsidiary contrasts, density, composition, form, framing, depth of field, character placement, staging positions, and character proxemics. Throughout these fifteen points, we will explore what catches the eye in a shot, how lighting effects the audience's perspective, how the shot's proximity matters as well as the angle, the importance of color, what lenses are best, proper organization, framing, location of the characters, and a great deal more. Carrying through the examples and explanations will be a shot from Ghost World, a film created in 2001. This image provides an excellent basis off of which the fifteen points can be formed and explained utilizing a visual representation. This image allows the ability to ask questions about something already existent, in order to provide a better sense of the effects of the ideas discussed. For example, we will assess the lighting in the shot provided and how it affects the film's genre.

Reader Comments

More Posts

The 24 Best Movie Posters of 2016

Rotten Tomatoes has compiled it's list of the year's best movie posters (from a graphic design perspective).

16-Dec-2016  • 

How to spot a scam film festival

These days, it seems that every man and his dog wants to run a film festival, which is fantastic in many ways, not least because it provides a greater number of outlets for filmmakers to get their work in front of an audience.

8-Dec-2016  •  Benjamin Craig

5 Movies that Will Change Your Perception of Movie Making

The film industry is filled with inspirational moments that changed millions of mindsets throughout our planet. However, today we'll focus on the main 5 movies that succeeded to alter the methods of shooting movies. Let's see which these are and where lies the source of their power to turn things around.

25-Nov-2016  •  Erik Winther

Kodak to offer free filmstock to Kickstarer filmmakers

Reports of the death of film may be greatly slightly exaggerated. Kodak has announced a partnership with Kickstarer which will see the former industry giant supplying free 35mm and super 16mm stock to selected feature film projects, correlated to the amount the project raises on the crowd-funding platform.

4-May-2016  •  Benjamin Craig

How To Stop Your Characters' Dialogue From All Sounding The Same

Aspiring screenwriters are often told that all their characters sound the same. The grandma sounds the same as the teenager. The professor sounds the same as the stripper, etc.

7-Apr-2016  •  Alex Bloom