Directors consider the physical space in the scene, including the use of space and focus, when framing each shot.
Mise-en-scèneMise-en-scène literally means “placing on stage.” Mise-en-scène is a term used to describe the director’s choices in framing a shot, including the actor positions, costumes, physical props, décor, and lighting.
In the example on the left, the mise-en-scène provides important information. The décor of the shot includes a holiday scene. The use of decorations, twinkling lights, turkey dinner, candles, and warm sweater worn by the subject indicates a joyous occasion that is filled with endearment.
Directors use internal framing when they surround a character with physical boundaries that exist in the shot (e.g., a door frame or a window pane). In these examples, the director internally frames a woman's face with intricate wrought iron,
a wedding couple in an elaborate church, and a gentleman within an intricate doorway. Consider what message the internal framing conveys about the characters.
Extend Your Understanding
View this clever video essay (warning: mature content—language) that explores one of the most simple and common mise-en-scène elements.
ExploreFamiliarize yourself with the cinematic technique definitions in the “Framing” section of the
Elements of Film handout.
Use the Elements of Film Tutorial to explore the remaining framing techniques not mentioned here (e.g., shallow focus). Be sure to review the YouTube link that accompanies each term in the tutorial to understand the effect of each technique. Record your impressions of the effects of framing techniques in your Elements of Film handout.