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How to Cite a Movie Scene


If you quote, analyze or refer to a film in an academic paper, you should cite it in your Works Cited page of the essay in the Modern Language Association (MLA style), the citation style usually used in the liberal arts and humanities. Unlike citations of books and other sources, the format of film citations varies depending on the focus of your paper. Citing a specific scene in a film follows the same citation as that for citing the film in general, such as its plot or the characters; however, the citation differs from that used for citing a specific person in a film or scene, such as the director or a performer.

Citing Films/Scenes in General

Write the film title in italics, followed by a period.

List the director and performers, indicated by the abbreviations "Dir." and "Perf." Put a period after the director and separate the performers with commas.

List the production company if you watched an original release and the distributor if you watched a DVD, followed by a comma and the release or distribution date. Add a period after the distribution date.

Write the medium followed by a period, such as DVD or film. For example, the entire citation reads: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Dir. David Yates. Perf. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2011. DVD."

Citing the Director or a Performer

Write the director or performer's name first in the format Last name, First Name, role. For example, the entry for David Yates reads "Yates, David, dir."

Write the film title in italics, followed by a period.

List the director and performers, indicated by the abbreviations "Dir." and "Perf." If the director is listed before the title, list only the performers; if a performer is listed first, list the director and the other performers.

Cite the production company if you watched an original release and the distributor if you watched a DVD, followed by a comma and the release or distribution date. Place a period after the distribution date.

List the medium followed by a period, such as DVD or film. For example, the entire citation reads: "Yates, David, dir. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Perf. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2011. DVD."

Tip
  • When you paraphrase a scene of the film in the text of your essay, you don't need to provide an in-text citation; you only need to be sure to obviously and directly refer to the title of the film and its material as distinct from the analytical voice of the essay.
About the Author

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at tolerance.org. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.

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