Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mise en scène

Film Tools and Techniques Introduction

In this and other publications, the term mise en scène signifies the major aspects filmmaking shares with staging a play. It refers to the selection of setting, subjects, and composition of each shot. Normally in complex film productions, the director makes final decisions about mise en scène.


■ A setting is the place where filmed action occurs. It is either a set, which has been built for use in the film, or a location, which is any place other than a film studio that is used for filming.

■ Depending on the needs of the scene, settings may be limbo (indistinct), realistic, or nonrealistic.

■ A setting can be the main subject of a shot or scene but usually is not. Settings often reveal the time and place of a scene, create or intensify moods, and help reveal what people (in a documentary film) or characters (in a fictional film) are like. Throughout a film, changes in settings can also mirror changes in situations and moods.


■ In films, fictional characters or real people are the usual subjects, and their actions and appearances help reveal their nature.

■ Performers may be stars, Method actors, character actors, or nonprofessional actors. There is some overlap among these categories: a star, for example, may also be a Method actor. Depending on the desired results, actors may be cast by type or against type.

■ Usually film actors must perform their scenes out of order, in brief segments, and often after long waits.

■ Effective performances may depend on the script, casting, direction, editing, and music. There is no one type of effective performance: what is judged effective depends in part on the viewers’ culture and the film’s style or its manner of representing its subject.

Composition: The Uses of Space

■ Filmmakers, especially cinematographers and directors, decide the shape of the overall image. They also decide how to use the space within an image. They decide when and how to use empty space and what will be conveyed by the arrangement of significant subjects on the sides of the frame, in the foreground, or in the background. Filmmakers also decide if compositions are to be symmetrical or asymmetrical.

■ Composition influences what viewers see positioned in relationship to the subject and how the subject is situated within the frame; what information is revealed to viewers that the characters do not know; and what viewers learn about the characters’ personalities or situations.

■ Many films are seen in an aspect ratio (or shape of the image) other than the one the filmmakers intended, and the compositions, meanings, and moods conveyed are thus altered.

Mise en Scène and the World outside the Frame

■ Mise en scène can be used to promote a political viewpoint or commercial product (the latter practice is called product placement).

■ Mise en scène can be used to parody human behavior or a text (such as a film). It can also be used to pay homage or tribute to an earlier text or part of one.

From Phillips, William H (2013 4th ed.) "Film and Introduction" Unversity of Wisconsin-Wau Claire, Bedford St. Martins. Boston / New York

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