Topic 2: Framing

Directors consider the physical space in the scene, including the use of space and focus, when framing each shot.


Mise-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.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


In the example on the left, the mise-en-scène provides important information. The dĂ©cor 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. 


Watch this film trailer for the film About Schmidt. As you watch, observe how the mise-en-scène conveys information about each of the characters. Record your impressions of the effects of mise-en-scène on your Elements of Film handout.

Internal Framing

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. 

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Photo by Alex Perelmuter from Pexels



Photo by Suliman Sallehi from Pexels

Extend Your Understanding

The Chair
View this clever video essay (warning: mature content—language) that explores one of the most simple and common mise-en-scène elements.


Familiarize 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.