Tips to Help You Block a Scene

Written by: Charlie Matthau

Summary: Everything a first-time director needs to know about blocking a scene for the camera.

In film, the term blocking refers to the action of placing the subjects of your scene in a particular arrangement. This is done to provide visibility or allow actors room to move or to make grand gestures. Blocking is a useful tactic for setting the pace of the action, and part of acting for the camera is that actors learn to work within that space. Two basic concepts will serve you well when you attempt to block a scene.

Tips for Blocking

Before you begin blocking, think about what you are looking to accomplish and how you can better utilize the location you’ve chosen. An actor’s angry outburst may necessitate an larger room with plenty of props to knock over. You can use close ups to better frame more emotional moments, with detailed facial expressions.

Understand the Type of Scene

There are two kinds of scenes: static and motion. Static sequences are the kind you see in older films where the camera is stationary. Tarantino’s earlier work was full of static shots, where the actors were free to move around on set and the camera was set at a distance to track them in the frame.

Scenes described as being “in motion,” rely on camera or actor movement. It’s popular to use steady hand held cams for this type of shot, especially in action flicks. Try to use the shot to frame the actor, panning as something happens around him or her. You can also go wide, and show the smallness of the actor against the imposing background.


Bio: The Charlie Matthau Company is best known for the film “The Grass Harp,” which was an adaptation of Truman Capote’s work by the same name. The Matthau Company will release the upcoming television show “Mexican High” in 2015.