Film Language Q-V


A scene is a segment of a narrative film that usually takes place in a single time and place, often with the same characters.

Here is one of the most famous scene from Hitchcock’s Rear Window.


Script, Screenplay, Scenario

A written description  of a film’s dialogue and action, sometimes with basic camera directions.

In this film a  screenwriter explains how to write a screenplay.


In this short clip a  scriptwriter explains how to write a filmscript.



A single stream of images, uninterrupted by editing; a unit of film in which the camera does not stop filming.



Aerial shot:

A shot taken from a crane, plane, or helicopter, restricted to exterior locations.

The trailer for Psycho starts with an aerial shot of Hitchcock outside The Bates Motel.


Birds’s eye view

A shot in which the camera photographs the scene from directly overhead.

Crane shot

A shot taken from a mechanical device called a crane which can carry the camera in any direction.

High angle shot

A shot taken from above the subject.

Low angle shot

A shot taken from below the subject.


Extreme long shot

A framing in which the scale of the object shown is very small; a building, landscape, or crowd of people will fill the screen.

Establishing shot

A type of extreme long shot at the beginning of a scene or sequence which provides a context for the subsequent closer shots. Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt starts with an establishing shot of where the main character Charlie Oakley lives, and it becomes clear immediately that it is a deprived area.


Long or full shot

A type of long shot that includes the human body in full, with the head near the top of the frame and the feet near the bottom.It makes for a relatively stable shot that can accomodate movement without reframing .

Medium long shot

Framing such than an object four or five feet high would fill most of the screen vertically. Also called plain américain, given its recurrence in the Western genre, where it was important to keep a cowboy’s weapon in the image.

Medium close-up

A relatively close shot, revealing the human figure from the waist up.


A detailed view of a person or object. A framing in which the scale of the object shown is relatively large. In a close-up a person’s head, or some other similarly sized object, would fill the frame.

Extreme close-up

A shot in which the scale of the object shown is very large, a minutely detailed view of an object or person. Faces are the most recurrent images in extreme close-ups. An extreme close-up of an actor usually includes only his or her eyes or mouth.

Point of view shot

A shot taken with the camera placed approximately where the character’s eyes would be, showing what the character would see; usually cut in before or after a shot of the character looking. Horror films and thrillers often use POV shots to suggest a menacing and unseen presence in the scene. In Force of Evil we see  Frank-s face in a point of view shot from the killer above: Then  we cut to the killer-s face from Frank-s point of view below.

In this video clip the entire film is shot from the perspective of the protagonist.

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With the use of helmet mounted POV cameras we can experience the sensations of the protagonist as in this video.

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Reaction shot

A shot to show an emotional response to the immediately preceding action or words of another character in the scene, or to an event in the immediately preceding scene which may or may not involve another actor (e.g., an explosion, monster, empty room, etc.)

Two shot

A medium featuring two actors in the same frame.

Three shot

A medium featuring three actors in the same frame.

Dutch Tilt

A shot in which  the camera angle is deliberately slanted to one side. This can be used for dramatic effect and helps portray unease, disorientation, frantic or desperate action, intoxication or madness.


Still pictures taken from from a film.

This short clip looks at the work of a film stills photographer.



A short description of the main parts of a story.

In this clip we have an explanation of how to write a film synopsis.



An opening sequence designed to catch the interest of the audience.

The opening sequence of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs certainly graps the audience’s attention.



A film with a lot of action and suspense


A short filmed advertisement for a film using highlights from the film with graphics and voice-over commentary to publicise the film.

The trailer of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather is a beautiful example.



A dangerous trick, usually done by a stunt man or woamn substiting the actor.


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