May 23, 2015

Staging and Blocking Multiple Characters: Lessons from 'About Elly' (2009)

Telling stories through cinema broadly involve two tools that specific to this medium: the Shot and the Cut. What all to keep in a shot, how to compose it, what kind of lens to use, how to coordinate actors' movements and performances, and how long to stay in the shot is what constitutes, briefly, the mise en scene. When to cut the shot, and how to use successive shots to create the desired impact is what constitues montage. A director is expected to have understanding and skill of using both and one major job that is included in these two is the staging and blocking of actors.

Using movement of characters and the camera is a priceless tool to tell your story on film. But it is also a very challenging task, especially when there are multiple characters in every frame. Studying the works of master film-makers can help us tremendously in taking the first steps toward this.

I have just created a 9-minute video essay, which is a brief study of Asghar Farhadi's craft through his film 'About Elly' (2009). Watching it over and over again can make us learn some basics of staging and blocking and inspire us to get ambitious with our own storytelling.


  1. I'm still learning from you :-)

    1. Thanks Anand!

      "I'm still learning" is important.

      "from you" is not.

      ":-)" is essential! :)

  2. Whoa !! Mindblowing. Thank you so much for making this essay.