A scene is a dramatic part of a story, at a specific time and place, between specific characters. The term is used in both filmmaking and theatre, with some distinctions between the two.


drama Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance: a play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a genre of poetry in general, the dramatic mode has b ...
, a scene is a unit of action, often a subdivision of an act.

French scene

A "French scene" is a scene in which the beginning and end are marked by a change in the presence of characters onstage, rather than by the lights going up or down or the set being changed.George, Kathleen (1994) ''Playwriting: The First Workshop'', Focal Press, , p. 154

Obligatory scene

From the French ''scène à faire'', an obligatory scene is a scene (usually highly charged with emotion) which is anticipated by the audience and provided by an obliging playwright. An example is ''
Hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare sometime between 1599 and 1601. It is Shakespeare's longest play, with 29,551 words. Set in Denmark, the play depicts ...
'' 3.4, when Hamlet confronts his mother.


filmmaking Filmmaking (film production) is the process by which a motion picture is produced. Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages, starting with an initial story, idea, or commission. It then continues through screenwriting, castin ...
video production Video production is the process of producing video content for video. It is the equivalent of filmmaking, but with video recorded either as analog signals on videotape, digitally in video tape or as computer files stored on optical discs, hard dr ...
, a scene is generally thought of as a section of a motion picture in a single
location In geography, location or place are used to denote a region (point, line, or area) on Earth's surface or elsewhere. The term ''location'' generally implies a higher degree of certainty than ''place'', the latter often indicating an entity with an ...
and continuous time made up of a series of
shot Shot may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * ''Shot'' (album), by The Jesus Lizard *''Shot, Illusion, New God'', an EP by Gruntruck *'' Shot Rev 2.0'', a video album by The Sisters of Mercy * "Shot" (song), by The Rasmus * ''Shot'' (2017 ...
s, which are each a set of contiguous frames from individual cameras from varying angles. A scene is a part of a film, as well as an act, a
sequence In mathematics, a sequence is an enumerated collection of objects in which repetitions are allowed and order matters. Like a set, it contains members (also called ''elements'', or ''terms''). The number of elements (possibly infinite) is call ...
(longer or shorter than a scene), and a setting (usually shorter than a scene). While the terms refer to a set sequence and continuity of observation, resulting from the handling of the camera or by the editor, the term "scene" refers to the continuity of the observed action: an association of time, place, or characters. The term may refer to the division of the film from the screenplay, from the finished film, or it may only occur in the mind of the spectator who is trying to close on a logic of action. For example, parts of an action film at the same location, that play at different times can also consist of several scenes. Likewise, there can be parallel action scenes at different locations usually in separate scenes, except that they would be connected by media such as telephone, video, etc. Due to the ability to edit recorded visual works, a movie scene is much shorter than a stage play scene. Because of their frequent appearance in films, some types of scenes have acquired names, such as love scene, sex scene, nude scene, dream scene, action scene, car chase scene, crash scene, emotional scene, fight scene, tragedy scene, or
post-credits scene A post-credits scene (commonly referred to as a stinger or credit cookie) or mid-credits scene is a short clip that appears after all or some of the closing credits have rolled and sometimes after a production logo of a film, TV series, or video g ...
. There is usually an opening scene and a closing scene. In contrast, the traditional movie script is divided into acts, but those categories are less frequently used in the digital technology. The scene is important for the unity of the action of the film, while a stage drama is typically divided into acts. The division of a movie into scenes is usually done in the script. Some action scenes need to be planned very carefully.

See also

Fiction Fiction is any creative work, chiefly any narrative work, portraying individuals, events, or places that are imaginary, or in ways that are imaginary. Fictional portrayals are thus inconsistent with history, fact, or plausibility. In a tradi ...
* Long take *
Plot (narrative) In a literary work, film, or other narrative, the plot is the sequence of events in which each event affects the next one through the principle of cause-and-effect. The causal events of a plot can be thought of as a series of events linked by t ...
* Scene and sequel *
Theatrical scenery Theatrical scenery is that which is used as a setting for a theatrical production. Scenery may be just about anything, from a single chair to an elaborately re-created street, no matter how large or how small, whether the item was custom-made or ...


{{film-term-stub Plot (narrative) Narratology