Mise-en-scène (French: "placing on stage") is the stage design and arrangement of actors in scenes for a theatre or film production, both in visual arts through storyboarding, visual theme, and cinematography, and in narrative storytelling through the direction. The term is also commonly used to refer to single scenes that are representative of a film. Mise-en-scène has been called film criticism's "grand undefined term".
When applied to the cinema, mise-en-scène refers to everything that appears before the camera and its arrangement—composition, sets, props, actors, costumes, and lighting. The "mise-en-scène", along with the cinematography and editing of a film, influence the verisimilitude or believability of a film in the eyes of its viewers. The various elements of design help express a film's vision by generating a sense of time and space, as well as setting a mood, and sometimes suggesting a character's state of mind. "Mise-en-scène" also includes the composition, which consists of the positioning and movement of actors, as well as objects, in the shot. These are all the areas overseen by the director. One of the most important people that collaborate with the director is the production designer. These two work closely to perfect all of the aspects of the "mise-en-scène" a considerable amount of time before the actual photography even begins. The production designer is generally responsible for the general look of the movie, leading various departments that are in charge of individual sets, locations, props, and costumes, among other things. André Bazin, a well-known French film critic, and film theorist, describes the mise-en-scène aesthetic as emphasizing choreographed movement within the scene rather than through editing.
Because of its relationship to shot-blocking, mise-en-scène is also a term sometimes used among professional screenwriters to indicate descriptive (action) paragraphs between the dialog.