Introduction to Film Studies

Welcome to the Film Studies on line taster course!  This is an opportunity for you to  learn in your own time, at your own pace, and in the comfort of your own home. Please post your answers in the comment/reply boxes below this task, we also would love to hear feedback in regards to this taster course.

In this taster you will :

·   learn what we mean by the term ‘Mise en Scene’

·   learn what the term ‘de-construct’ means

·   apply theory of deconstruction to a short film clip

We hope you enjoy the course!

Definition of Mise en Scene

• A French term meaning what is put into a scene or frame

• Visual information in front of the camera

• Communicates essential information to the audience

• Made up of 5 elements:

TASK – Can you think what they are without looking below?

• Settings & Props

• Costume, Hair & Make Up

• Facial Expressions & Body Language

• Lighting & Colour

• Positioning of characters/objects within the frame

Each aspect of mise-en-scene has hidden meanings within a film and sends signals to the audience about how we are supposed to feel at a certain point. Lets look at each one in turn, and we will de-construct a film image and look what exactly goes into Mise en Scene.

 Setting & Props

• Settings & Locations play an important part in film-making and are not just ‘backgrounds’

• Sets are either built from scratch or a great deal of time is spent to find a setting which already exists

• Settings can manipulate an audience  by building certain expectations and then taking a different turn

TASK – What settings and props would you commonly find in:

1. A Science Fiction Film

2. A Romantic Comedy

3. A Horror Film

Costume, Hair & Make Up

• Costume, Hair & Make Up act as an instant indicator to us of a character’s personality, status & job

• It tells us immediately whether the film is set in the present and what society/or culture it will centre around

• Certain costumes can signify certain individuals (i.e. black cloak of a vampire, Spidey’s Spiderman suit)

TASK – Look at the image below and write a paragraph to explain how this character is appearing to be portrayed.

Facial Expression & Body Language

•Facial Expressions provide a clear indicator of how someone is feeling

•If someone is smiling broadly, we assume they are happy but we may get a different feeling if this is accompanied by scary music

•Body Language may also indicate how a character feels towards another character or may reflect the state of their relationship

TASK: What meanings/emotions do the following images convey:

Positioning of Characters & Objects within a frame

•Positioning within a frame can draw our attention to an important character/object

•A film-maker can use positioning to indicate relationships between people

•What does the positioning in the following images reveal about the characters/film:

Lighting and Colour

Lighting & Colour can be used to achieve a variety of effects:

• To highlight important characters or objects within the frame

• To make characters look mysterious by shading sections of the face & body

• To reflect a characters mental state/hidden emotions (i.e. bright = happy, dark = disturbed, strobe effect = confused


•Created by using only the key & back lights

•Produces  sharp contrasts of light and dark areas

•Deep, distinct shadows/silhouettes are formed

Example: Horror Films


•More filler lights are used. Lighting is natural and realistic to our eyes

•Produces brightly lit sets or a sunny day (right)

Example: Rom-Coms

TASK – Look at the next screen shot:

What does the mise-en-scene tell you about this scene?

Think about all the things that we have covered:

Settings & Props

Costume, Hair & Make Up

Facial Expressions & Body Language

Lighting & Colour

Positioning of characters/objects within the frame

End of Course Summary

Well done! You have now completed this taster course – An Introduction to Film Studies. We hope you have enjoyed it and found it stimulating and informative.  In this taster you have:

–         learnt what the term Mise en Scene means

–         applied the range of aspects within Mise en Scene to different scenes from films

–          de-constructed one final scene using all the methods covered in this course

The films we have used are:

Edward Scissorhands

Forest Gump

The Shining

Touch of Evil

The Break Up


Notting Hill

Reservoir Dogs


6 thoughts on “Introduction to Film Studies

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