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

12 Angry Men- A Lesson in Staging

Using Sidney Lumet's '12 Angry Men', Andrew Saladino from The Royal Ocean Film Society looks at how blocking and staging can add emotion and density to scenes which may otherwise end up rather dull.

11-Sep-2017  • 

How to Make a Blockbuster Movie Trailer

The super-talented Craven Moorhaus and Zak Koonce (aka Auralnauts) have created the perfect blueprint for your blockbuster movie trailer.

18-Aug-2017  •  Benjamin Craig

Common Mistakes Directors Make When Adapting a Book into a Movie

News that a certain beloved book is being adapted into a movie or even worse, a blockbuster, is concomitantly met with both joy and dismay by the same category of people - the fans.

7-Jun-2017  •  Zoe Baker

Clint Eastwood Gives the Cinema Masterclass at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival

The Master Class is an annual festival fixture in which a respected film practitioner is invited to talk about their approach and their body of work. Watch Clint Eastwood give the 2017 edition.

22-May-2017  •  Benjamin Craig

How to Film Safely at Height

Leila Jones looks at the regulations and best practice approaches to keeping your crew (and yourself) safe when filming at heights.

16-May-2017  •  Leila Jones