15 Steps to Creating Mise-en-Scene in Your Next Film

In filmmaking, the term Mise-en-Scene refers to identifying each component through analysis and explaining the respective significance while connecting them to the film’s theme. In the following 15 steps, I’ll walk you through what you need to look for to creating the mise-en-scene in your next film.


15 Steps to Creating Mise-en-Scene in Your Next Film

1. Dominant: What is attractive on the first glance and why?

The feature can be achieved in a plethora of techniques with the color being the primary idea – what is the tone you are trying to achieve with your shot?

2. Lighting Key: High key, low key, high contrast or a blend of them?

High Key Lighting is bright and often appears in comedies and music while Low Key Lighting is identified by diffuse shadows as it is often the case in mysteries and thrillers. High Contrast is typical in tragedies and melodramas because of the dramatic blends of brightness and blackness.

3. Shot and Camera Proxemics: They type of camera shot and the distance between the camera and the action.

  • Extreme long shots: Showing a bigger locale and people are literally invisible
  • Long shots: Suits the space between the audience and the stage and shows the characters
  • Full shots: Accommodates the human body in full
  • Medium shots: The human body from the wrist up
  • Close up: Concentrates on specific parts
  • Extreme close up: Unnaturally small portions of the object

4. Camera Angle:

  • Bird’s eye view: Taken directly from above with those people down appearing insignificant.
  • High angle: A little better than the former
  • Eye-level shot: The clearest view or the norm
  • Low angle: Increases high vertically, perhaps for the sake of such themes as respect and power
  • Oblique angle: Camera is tilted for a slanting appearance, perfect for depicting a form of transition.

5. Color Values:

6. Lens/Filter/Stock: How each alters or comments on the photographed materials.

A telephoto lens draws objects closer while blurring the illusion of depth, Wide-angle lens for a broad area and a better illusion of depth. Fast filming is sensitive to light though it can create an image with little light. Slow film stock is insensitive to light and may need lots of illumination. The image is often amazingly polished.

7. Subsidiary Contrasts: What is there when the dominant is taken?

8. Density: The visual information that is contained in the image.

Is it stark texture, moderate or just highly detailed?

9. Composition: The two-dimensional space

These are horizontal (peacefulness), diagonal (tension and anxiety), vertical (strength), binary (parallelism), triangular (interplay) or circular (security).

10. Form: It is either open or closed, perhaps to signify an arbitrary isolation of the fragments of the scene or if the visual elements are set to appear set and in balance.

11. Framing: Tight or loose; the characters can move around, or they are simply confined to one location? It all depends on where the shots were taken.

12. The Depth of Field: The number of planes (or persons) are in focus?

If the background also shows that there may be others and in focus, etc.

13. Character Placement: Part of the framed space where the characters are located.

Near the top – for what relates to power, authority, and inspiration

The bottom side shows the opposite of the top – powerlessness and hopelessness

Near the right and left edges – signify insignificance

14. Staging Positions: The position of the characters vis-à-vis the camera.

  • Full front – facing the camera
  • Quarter turn – loved by most filmmakers because of high intimacy level, yet less emotional involvement
  • Profile – to show the character when they are unaware that they are being filmed
  • Three-quarter turn – portrays the character’s unfriendly part
  • Back to camera – the character’s separation from the world

15. Character Proxemics: The space between the characters

  • Intimate distances
  • Personal distances
  • Social distances
  • Public distances

We’ve put together this info-graphic as reference to nailing the ise-en-scene in your next film.


Michael Hall runs the production company  ShoHawk, with director Christopher Sakr. From their childhood beginning, there was never a choice: we would make movies together. Whether we were off at separate colleges, traveling, working respective jobs and trying to climb the industry ladder, it worked. This is the power of dreams, and the foundation of ShoHawk.

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