Film Techniques

Directors use a whole range of film techniques to help the tell a story and to convey meaning (probably more than you realise!). Think that extreme close-up is there just because the actor has pretty eyes? Think again.  Try completing the following activity:

Use the following websites to learn about a variety of different film techniques including framing shots and camera angles:


  1. Choose a favorite film. Collect screenshots of the film that demonstrate the following film techniques. Don’t forget to include the purpose or effect of the shot:
  1. Extreme Wide Shot
  2. Very Wide Shot
  3. Wide Shot
  4. Mid Shot
  5. Medium Close up
  6. Close up
  7. Extreme Close up
  8. Low Angle
  9. High Angle
  10. Dutch Tilt
  11. Point of View Shot
  12. Cut away

2. Choose 2 of the following shots and write a paragraph that describes how the director has conveyed meaning through the shot. Consider these points:

  1. What is happening in the film at the time? (Context)
  2. What do you know about how the shot is commonly used? (Use of technique)
  3. What the director is trying to say with the shot (connect Context with Technique)

Image: ‘Dragon spirit

The Review Team

Share the notes from the particular film technique you have researched here. List the technique as a list below your group, then create a hyperlink to the google doc you have created.

Yaroslava, Caitlin, Jordan, Herkus

Dean, Stefan, Kim, Jackie

  • Art direction,  Soundtrack, lighting, Plot, genre, Character

Shirin, Ilham, Kimmie, Allison

Rashid, Mina, Aykhan

Here is a list of film elements that can be used to discuss, describe and analyse film:

  • Setting (geographical, historical, social milieu)
  • Atmosphere (note shifts)
  • Genre
  • Cinematography (camera placement and movement, lighting, color, focus, frame, composition, etc)
  • Lighting
  • Art direction (décor, etc)
  • Costuming
  • Pace (note shifts)
  • Suspense
  • Sound (realistic, expressive, simple vs. multi-layered, etc)
  • Soundtrack
  • Character (complexity, development, believability, etc)
  • Acting (professional/non-professional, realistic, stylized, etc)
  • Plot (story and subplots)
  • Narrative structure (straightforward vs. complex, flashbacks, etc)
  • Conflict
  • Point of view
  • Themes
  • Editing

Use this excellent guide from Yale, to learn more about these elements.

I’ve created a page on narrative technique for your example.

Here are some examples to guide you (though they feature nowhere near enough information to serve as guide for a particular element; you need more!):


Run Lola Run features an interesting use of soundtrack to emphasize the theme of time in the film

Camera Movement/Placement:

This shot is an example of the use of Point of View to add to the realism of the film. The film was criticised for its realistic depiction of war emphasized by the first person perspective that is featured.

8 Responses to “Film Techniques”

  1. arjun September 30, 2011 at 10:25 AM #


  2. billy February 11, 2012 at 10:20 AM #

    this was very helpful thanxs 🙂

  3. SMZ February 26, 2012 at 5:11 PM #

    These posts on film are really helpful! I am an IB graduate who is teaching a comparative film course as a part of an English language program in China right now, and because I never really studied film, I was at a loss about how to discuss elements of film with my students. Thank a lot for all the resources you put up and I hope your classes go well!

    • seantangey February 27, 2012 at 9:04 AM #

      No problem. I’m glad they helped!

  4. millie September 13, 2012 at 6:45 AM #

    im doing mi hsc and this is like saaaaa helpful 🙂 keep up da godo work guys !!!!

    • Sesilia May 24, 2015 at 3:45 PM #

      really good stuff guys thanks 🙂

  5. Smithg909 May 28, 2018 at 2:12 AM #

    Thanksamundo for the post.Really thank you! Awesome. fkdfebkadedgecdc

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