Mise-en-scène is French for placing on stage or “placing on the screen” for film purposes. (3)

Mise-en-scène refers to everything that appears before the camera and its arrangement. Along with the cinematography and editing of a film, it influences the believability for the viewer.

Various elements of design generate a sense of time and space, as well as setting a mood, and may suggest a character’s state of mind.

The Black Swan, a movie directed by Darren Aronofsky, gives life to light and darkness and tells a beautiful, dark, twisted story, through its set design, lighting and colour palettes, costumes, as well as the acting, and even composition., (as discussed in an earlier post April 28, 2015)


The Black Swan. (2010). Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Photo credit- http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/natalie-portman/images/27525764/title/new-black-swan-stills-photo

Success with the various elements in a movie is only possible through a collaborative partnership with the director who has the vision. From the craftsmen building sets, to the cinematographer who chooses the lighting, the mise-en-scene is the result of many contributors.

One of the most important collaborators with the director is the production designer. Together they perfect all the aspects of the mise-en-scene, long before the actual filming even begins. The production designer is generally responsible for the look of the movie and leads various departments. Within the production environment, the director is more specific with his requests and orders whether to the prop master, the set designer, the make-up artists or the actors. All influence the mise-en-scene.

Set design

An important element of “putting in the scene” is the setting, and the objects (props) visible in a scene. Set design can be used to amplify character emotion or the dominant mood, which has physical, social, psychological, emotional, economic and cultural significance in film. (3)

The shot below shows the precision of choreographed rehearsal, and illustrates the movie’s theme of light versus darkness.


The Black Swan. (2010). Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Photo credit – http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/black-swan/images/19071961/title/black-swan-stills-photo


Unarguably, lighting is an element with great power. The intensity, direction, and quality of lighting can influence the  audience’s understanding of characters, actions, themes and mood. Light (and shade) can emphasize texture, shape, distance, mood, time of day or night, season, glamour; it affects the way colours are rendered, both in terms of hue and depth, and can focus attention on particular elements of the composition. The Black Swan has all of these; not only does the lighting grasp the two identities Natalie Portman portrays, it also showcases the authenticity of the ballet and the story is told through it. (1)


Acting has become one of the most important elements of film. An actor’s performance can make or break a movie regardless of how engaging the story is or how well the editing was done. It is the actor’s duty to bring their character to life within the framework of the story. Their emotional input dictates how strongly the audience feels about the film. An actor must be completely aware of their character and be ready to portray their emotions and actions as if they were their own. The actor is the basic element of 99% of films which guides the audience to empathy and reality for the movie. (2)


Readings –

    (1) http://www.slideshare.net/sarahlou79/mise-en-scene-14239171

    (2)  http://collegefilmandmediastudies.com/mise-en-scene-2/

    (3)   http://www.elementsofcinema.com/directing/mise-en-scene-in-films/



Composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art, as distinct from the subject of a work.

There are a number of established composition principles, which can be applied in almost any situation to enhance the impact of a scene. These principles will help you take more compelling photographs, tell a more in depth story, or just make whatever you are creating more visually pleasing lending the audience a helping hand.

I will list a few of these principles and once you are familiar with these principles, you’ll be surprised at just how universal most of them are. You’ll spot them everywhere, and you’ll find it easy to see why some composition works, while others feel like simple basic shots.

One of these principles is THE RULE OF THIRDS. Imagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. The Rule of Thirds requires you to position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. When you look at a photo the eye is naturally drawn along lines. By thinking about how you place lines in your composition, you can affect the way you view the image, pulling you into the picture towards the subject or on a journey through the scene. Doing so will add balance and interest to your shot. A great example to show balance and symmetrical composition, as well as other principles discussed here, are films by Wes Anderson.

The Darjeeling Limited-Click image for link

This photo showcases our characters, the setting and the balance of the story it is trying to tell.

Another principle of composition is Centre of Interest. This is the area that first attracts attention and the importance of a scene in composition, either through more colour or the placement.

It is important to balance the “weight” of your story by including other objects of lesser importance to fill the space. In the image below, the focus is purely drawn to the man in the purple jacket, but there are enough objects and signs to give us insight to what he does, and his character’s plot in the movie.

Featured image

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Click for image link

Another principle is Viewpoint. Before shooting your subject, take time to think about where you will shoot it. The viewpoint has a massive impact on the composition of the shot, and as a result it can greatly affect the message that the shot conveys. Rather than just shooting from eye level, consider all angles.

Whatever medium you choose it is two-dimensional and the composition must be chosen carefully to convey the sense of depth that was present in the actual scenario.

Composition is what gets the message across to the audience. It is up to the creator whether he chooses to do this through objects, characters, colours, or viewpoints or a combination of some or all of these. By using the principles listed here, the creator guides his audience to his vision.