Watching and Being Watched: The Narrative Power of the POV Shot

A little perspective never hurt anybody.

The Shining Pov Shot
Warner Bros.

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about the narrative potential of the POV shot.


Movies excel at conveying the sensation of watching and being watched. Photographs and paintings can only give you a snapshot of a given point of view. And video games (despite all the immersive potential of virtual reality) tend to give too much camera control to the player. But film forcefully directs our gaze, flipping fluidly between the perspectives of different subjects.

In a way, all shots are technically point-of-view shots. Even when the camera isn’t assigned to a specific character or device, omniscience is a perspective all its own. As the video essay below suggests, one way of appreciating the narrative potential of the POV shot is by looking at how the technique materializes across different genres.

Implemented correctly, POV shots can let us see what a character sees and feel how they feel. In romantic contexts, this can allow viewers to fall in love alongside protagonists. In dramas, it can help us understand fragile or heightened mental states. Horror films and thrillers frequently use POV to emphasize vulnerability and predatory viewpoints. The possibilities (and the perspectives) are endless.

Watch “The POV Shot — The Art of the Subjective Camera and ‘Point of View Shot’“:

Who made this?

This video about the narrative potential of the POV shot was created by StudioBinder, a production management software creator that also happens to produce wildly informative video essays. They tend to focus on the mechanics of filmmaking itself, from staging to pitches and directorial techniques. You can check out their YouTube account here.

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(Senior contributor)

Three toddlers in a trenchcoat. Currently running The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope.