Flat staging involves composing an image which with an absence of depth and perspective. In many cases, using depth – including the foreground, middle ground and background – can help you achieve more cinematic images. Nevertheless, there are occasions when you might want to suggest that your character leads an uninteresting life or has a lack of options. Flat staging is one way you can suggest this visually.
Thanks to the work of Wes Anderson, flat staging also conveys a quirkiness that audiences now associate with films like The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), The Royal Tenenbnums (2001) and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004).
In Professional Storyboarding: Rules of Thumb, Sergio Paez and Anson Jew suggest that flat staging is a good choice for comedy because it lacks depth, focusing the audience’s attention on the performance of the actor, functioning like a single panel comic or a standup comedian on stage.
Need to make your film seem quirky? Want to convey that your characters are trapped and out of options? Flat staging might just be the compositional technique you’re looking for.