Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Week 1 Fllm An Introduction Notes


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
Who Am I?
What is film?
Media Convergence?

Story telling cavemen
Flip cards Kinescope
Projected celluloid (flammable plastic)
Advancements in film

1830 Germs that made film possible were planted
            German studies of the human mind and how we see motion
            “Persistence of Vision”

1839   First Commercial Photography
1869    Invention of Celluloid Clear Plastic
1870   Incandescent lamps or electronic light

January 7, 1894 Edison, who did no invent film, introduced commercial Kinescope
                        Used employees in his films not actors

December 28, 1895  Lumere Brothers first projected images
            Start of Cinematography
            A train leaving a station, then hurtling toward audience,
            And a French short Farce Comedy (first fictional film)

Mid 1896 Edison introduced Videoscope, his projection system
            Same time competitor introduced the Biograph in Chicago and NYC

1897 Cinerama, multiple screen projection system using ten synchronized projectors

By 1900 Kinescope parlors were all around the world, in stores, record shops, at amusement parks and carnivals and even in churches

1911 the first multi-reel longer films begins, as spectaculars…
Lez Mislabels, Shakespeare, Biblical and Historic

1915 Birth of a Nation
            Major achievement and advancement
            Racist and slanted by todays lens…

Cecil B DeMille began in the 1910 with sex comedies and moved on to
            Major extravaganzas.

Max Senate introduced the Keystone Cops slapstick style in 1912

WWII ended French and German dominance in film and allowed the US to move to a position it still holds, dominating International Film production and distribution…

Movies made possible “the American Century”.

(Why China is investing so much now)

After the war…how you gonna hold em down on the farm…
Films became increasingly racy and tacked increasingly controversial subjects using a European no holds barred approach

Hollywood became a legend not a subdivision in California. Scandals, crime, avoiding the law and governmental regulation,

First Academy Awards 1927, but first best picture was 1929
for a film made in 1926 film…WINGS
(Gary Cooper small role)

Lee DeForest and Edison rivals in experimenting with sound
            Silent films had sound…records played at specific places
            Live music and live sound effects
            Sometimes live actors with scripts reading

1926   Sound shorts, including African American artists
1927     Al Jolson…The Jazz Singer
1929   The Marx Brothers, first stars to take full advantage of sound

1930’s              Gangsters, Westerns, Escapism, Comedy, Sound,
            Unions, the Studio System entrenched,
            Nazi and other Propaganda
            Hollywood propaganda 1930 to 1950’s.
            Motion Picture Code

The Motion Picture Production Code was the set of industry moral censorship guidelines that governed the production of most United States motion pictures released by major studios from 1930 to 1968. It is also popularly known as the Hays Code, after Hollywood's chief censor of the time, Will H. Hays. The Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), which later became the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), adopted the code in 1930, began enforcing it in 1934, and abandoned it in 1968, in favor of the subsequent MPAA film rating system.

The Production Code spelled out what was acceptable and what was unacceptable content for motion pictures produced for a public audience in the United States. The office enforcing it was popularly called the Hays Office/

which was far more rigid in censoring films than Hays had been.

Hollywood followed the guidelines set about by the code well into the late 1950s, but the code was eventually abandoned due to the combined impact of television, influence from foreign films, bold directors (such as Otto Preminger) pushing the envelope, and intervention from the courts, including the Supreme Court.[1][2] By the 1960s the code had been entirely abandoned.

1938-1939 considered the greatest year of the studio system in artistic achievement,
attendance box office and quantity of films released…

Wizard of Oz
Gone With the Wind
Goodbye Mr. Chips
The Women
Young Mr. Lincoln
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Bringing UP Baby
Boys Town
Gunga Din
And many others…

1941 to 1945 The War Years
James Cagney president of the Screen Actors Guild
full speed propaganda machine
but with Hollywood quality and stars
John Wayne
Ronald Reagan

Citizen Kane
Here Comes Mr., Jordan
How Green Was My Valley
Our Town
The Lady Eve
Sargent York (Gary Cooper)
They Died with their Boots On
The Wolf Man
High Sierra
Blood and Sand
Pride and prejudice
Toad to Singapore
Santa Fe Trail
Boom town
The Grapes of Wrath
The Great dictator
His Girl Friday
Knute Rockne All American
Northwest Passage
The Shop Around the Corner
And many others

Post War Escapism
Mixed with after war dramas
And WWII glory films

1947 …released 1950…
Ronald Reagan President of Screen Actors Guild
First film to break the studio system
Returning war vet Jimmy Stewart
Produced, starred and independently distributed
“Winchester 73”
Supreme Court rules Big 5 are monopoly
In film production and distribution

(today there are four and all integrated more than they were in the 1930’s to 50’s)

1949 Twelve O’clock High
1949 North by Northwest

Soviet Scare
Horror Movies
Eisenhower Years positive family movies
McCarthyism continues (1947 the Hollywood ten)
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. It also means "the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism."[1] The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from 1950 to 1956 and characterized by heightened political repression against communists, as well as a campaign spreading fear of their influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents. Originally coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, "McCarthyism" soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries.
During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person's real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs were often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment and/or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned,[2] laws that were later declared unconstitutional,[3] dismissals for reasons later declared illegal[4] or actionable,[5] or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute.
The most famous examples of McCarthyism include the speeches, investigations, and hearings of Senator McCarthy himself; the Hollywood blacklist, associated with hearings conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC); and the various anti-communist activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under Director J. Edgar Hoover. McCarthyism was a widespread social and cultural phenomenon that affected all levels of society and was the source of a great deal of debate and conflict in the United States.
Some conservatives regard the term as inappropriate and deprecate what they say are myths created about McCarthy.[6][7][8][9]

Started conservative and grew very radical and change with audience / market
Musicals and Family films ending with counter culture, crime and rough edges
Experimentation in mid to late 1960’s

Started with an economic depression for American film industry
But new generation came along
Coppola. DePalma, Scorsese, Spielberg Lucas, Fiedkin, Robert Altman, Mel Brooks and others

Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Jaws, Star Wars, French Connection, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, MASH (1970), Taxi Drier, Blazing Saddles, Poseidon Adventure, Saturday night Fever and movie version of Grease…

Born of late 60’s counter culture, anti-war and cynicism
Created start realism and sharp lines images…
Method acting and increasing visual violence and brutality,
Along side political comedy and even musicals.

1980’s the decade of the Block Busters and large puffy hair

Raiders of the Lost Arch, ET, Driving Miss Daisy, batman, die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Rambo…Buffy the Vampire Slayer…

1970s’ counter culture and even anti-hero’s grew and continued…

Cost of films skyrocketed as audiences demanded more

The Indy film market grew, as studios did not green light “risky films”
So companies like Miramax, Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, Tribeca formed and prospered.

Tremendous foreign film growth and creativity.

Hollywood begins to lose its front seat dominance to foreign production centers and films…Nationalism, craftspeople, decline of the Soviet Block..

The Mall…


Big blockbusters with small Indy dollar makers
“Shakespeare In Love”, “Silence of the Lambs”, Saving Private Ryan, American Beauty, Schindlers List, Unforgiven..

First new movie studio in several decades Dreamworks SKG

Large Corporate buyouts, mergers, and integration

Product became about merchandising over content


Digital Revolution
Big Box Theaters
Big Budget busts
Animation that was not Disney (later purchased by Disney)
Growth of overseas production
Shift from US being center of profits to overseas


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