Film Studies: What you need for your exam

Year 9 Film Studies Revision

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The Ten codes of Perfomance

1. Direct Bodily Contact

2. Proxemics

3. Orientations

4. Apperance

5. Head Movement

6. Facial Expressions

7. Gestures

8. Body Language

9. Eye Contact

10. Aspects of speech/ voice

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Parallel sound- when a style or mood of music is played that SUITS the style or mood of the scene. E.g. 'Mamma Mia' being played during a happy scene.

Contrapuntal sound- when a style or mood of music is played that CONTRADICTS the style or mood of the scene being shown. E.g. 'Mamma Mia' being played in a/ when a murder scene is being shown. 

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is a french term which means "in" or "of the scene". There are a series of elements that may be seen within the frame of any individual shot. These elements encourage a viewer to "read" a scene in a particular way. Elements in Mise-en-scene can be categorised into five topics.

  • The setting
  • Props
  • Costume
  • Decor
  • Features of the actor's performance and movement

Elements that are used to 'build' a film, can be put into one of these four headings.

  • Mise-en-scene
  • Cinematography
  • Editing
  • Sound
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Mise-en-scene: Setting and Decor

The settings or locations for films or separate scenes can tell the viewer a great deal. For example, the start of a film may be set in a vast landscape filled with snow or perhaps the location chosen is a small lift crammed with people.

You can also look at decor of any particular scene- take a look at the wallpaper, carpet and furnishings. What does it tell you about the characters? Or the location? Does it show a certain characters emotion? Or what they are like?

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Mise-en- scene: Movement and Performance

This refers to the acting that is taking place but the phrase also helps to define a little more clearly what it is you should be looking for: there is performance going on and essentially it revolves around movement. These movements can range from miniscule to the expansive and can involve the whole body or the smallest parts of the body. Everything is included from slow movements of the eye to sudden running and jumping, each may be 'read' in some way (or several possible ways) as creating potential meanings, or understanding of characters and/ or emotion.

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Mise-en-scene: Costume and Props

This refers to items of clothing being worn by the characters or objects seen within any given setting. At its simplest, costume clearly acts as a type of uniform, linking a character to a particular group and often to a rank or position within that group. But costume can also 'announce' a character, giving an insight into what this person is suppose to be like: for instance, shy or flamboyant. At their simplest, props work to give an authentic sense of place, but may also be used in more complex ways to suggest important characteristics of particular individuals or even key themes for the whole film. 

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Lighting refers to the various ways in which the light, whether on the studio or on location, is controlled and manipulated in order to achieve the 'look' desired for a particular shot or scene. 

Sometimes lighting is used from different angles to create interesting effects.

Under Lighting- the source of light within a scene comes from below. This often has a distorting effect on the object or character being lit and can be used to make the character or object seem threatening. Horror films often use under lighting in order to make the audience feel scared of a character or fearful of an object.

Top Lighting- the light source comes from above. It is often used to highlight the actor's features- sometimes making them more glamourous. 

Back Lighting- the light source comes from behind a character or object. If the only light is back light then silhouettes are created. This could be to create mystery or tension. 

Film Noir- is a genre that using side lighting or broken lighting to particular effect.

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Coloured Lighting

There are two main types of ways colour can be used. The first is through using lighting, the second is filters. 

  • Theatrical Look (Dramatic)
  • Rare in modern films
  • Cheaper alternative to filters
  • Commonly seen in low budget/ independent cinema.

Why use coloured lighting?

  • Unique
  • Mood
  • Setting
  • Dramatic
  • Old Fashioned
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Coloured Lighting: Filters

  • Diffusion filters/ colour-effect filters are widely used to enhance mood/ give a dramatic effect.
  • Two pieces of glass glued together with some form of image/ light manipulation material between the glass.
  • Expensive compared to coloured lights.
  • Takes away colours --> shortens wave length.
  • Modern films.
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  • Key Light- usually the brightest and at 45 degrees either side of the camera.
  • Back Light- often used behind the characters to make them more rounded and less one dimensional.
  • Filler Light- a softer light than the key light and placed opposite side of the camera. This is to fill in any harsh shadows
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Cinematography refers to how the camera manipulated by the camera opperators to create particular meaning as and/or mood/atmosphere. The two majors factors to consider are framing or compostition and movement.

Cinematography considers all camera work: shot types, camera positioning, camera movement and framing.

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Shot types

Shots are one of the basic 'building blocks' of a film. Many directors storyboard 

  • Extreme Long Shot (ELS)
  • Long Shot (LS)
  • Medium Shot (MS)
  • Close-up (CU)
  • Extreme Close-up (ECU)
  • Establishing shot
  • Master Shot
  • Cut-away shot
  • Cut-in shot
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Camera Positioning

Another important element of cinematography that you need to consider is camera positioning. The position of the camera when a shot is filmed has a significant effect on the meanings that are created for the viewer. 


  • Eye-level shots
  • Low-angle shots
  • High-angle shots
  • Point-of-view shots
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Camera Movement

As well as the type of shot that is used within a scene and the positioning of the camera, camera movement is also an important aspect of cinematography.


  • Panning
  • Tilting
  • Tracking
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Aside from shot type, camera positioning and camera movement, the other significant element of cinematography for you to consider is framing. If you pause a film, what you will see is a frame. The director and/or cinematographer of a film will make decisions regarding where the elements of a particular shot are positioned. The decision might be made that one character appears dominant, and thus they might be positioned in the middle of the shot, standing higher than the other characters. In order to convey the idea that events within the narrative are overwhelming to a particular character, that character might be shown squashed in the shot by the other characters, objects or buildings. 

Frames can be empty or full. Characters can be in the foreground or background. They might be to the left or right-hand side of the frame. All possibilities of framing have the potential to generate meaning.

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Sound is an essential element within any film and is integral to the creation of meaning for the viewer. The first distinction to be understood is the difference between sound that exists within the "world" of film (sounds that characters in the film can hear) and sound that has been added to the film at post production stage, (sound that the characters cannot hear).

There are two types of sound: diegetic and non-digetic.

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Diegetic Sound

Sound whose source is visible on the screen or whose source is implied to be present by the action of the film. 

  • voice of characters
  • sounds made by objects in the story
  • music represented as coming from instruments in the space (=source music)

Diegetic sound is any sound presented as originated source within the film's world.

Diegetic sound can be either on screen or off screen depending on whatever its source is within the frame or outside the frame.

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Non-Diegetic Sound

Sound whose source is neither visible on the screen nor has been implied to be present in the action.

  • narrator's commentary
  • sound effects which is added for the dramatic effect
  • mood music

Non-diegetic sound is represented as coming from the source outside the story space.

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Slide 9 doesn't seem to be finished? Could you please only upload finished resources.

Thank You,

Megan (moderator)

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