Guardian, CNet, Slate, IndieWire are reporting Werner Herzog, the world famous director of over 70 films including dramas (Rescue Dawn, Queen of the Desert, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) and documentaries (Grizzly Man, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Into the Abyss)), is offering an online filmmaking course later this summer on the online training site MasterClass.com.
To this reporter, Herzog has long been seen a great mentor/teacher after watching the 19 minutes short film “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe” (YouTube video link) some years ago. Werner and Oscar winning Errol Morris may simply see each other as just old friends. This reporter personally sees Werner as mentor/teacher of Errol. Having “shoe eating” friends in our lives is sure a great way to inspire/push aspiring filmmakers/anyone to achieve more! (time code 8:18 is the start of the shoe eating moment)
Have a look of a brief promotional trailer about the course where interested potential students can learn about the online master class.
And here is an annotated Lesson Plan #1 – #6 for Werner Herzog’s filmmaking MasterClass:
Lesson 01 – INTRODUCTION
Hear from the master, a self-taught filmmaker who’s battled the impossible to tell his stories, on why he now wants to inspire future filmmakers to be good ‘soldiers of cinema’.
(Reporter’s note: Have a read of “Werner Herzog on Being a ‘Soldier of Cinema’ and the Relative Nature of Facts (Q&A)“, THR, 8/15/2013 by Alexandra Zawia)
Lesson 02 – TEACH YOURSELF STORYTELLING: WATCH FILMS
Werner teaches you how to watch films critically to learn from them, giving us an example of how to learn how to open a film from one of his favourite films of all time.
(Reporter’s note: In an Open Culture 2014 May article “Werner Herzog Picks His 5 Top Films“, a few free to watch films are shared online. Werner has high praise for D. W. Griffith (1875 – 1948) known as the “inventor of Hollywood”.)
Lesson 03 – TEACH YOURSELF STORYTELLING: READ
Reading opens up new worlds and gives you a new perspective to approach storytelling. Werner highlights the importance of reading, and gives you mandatory reading.
(Reporter’s note: Werner recommends reading The Warren Commission report (also known as “Report of the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy”. You can download the whole report as a single PDF image file (81MB) from gpo.gov page using this link. The online HTML text version may be easier to read for some people.)
Lesson 04 – WRITING A SCRIPT
A screenplay is not a screenplay until you see the whole film in front of you. Werner shows you how to write a script to inspire everyone to make the film.
Lesson 05 – FINANCING FIRST FILMS
Werner teaches you how to overcome the excuse of not having money for a film. Learn how to finance your first film and make it for $10,000.
(Reporter’s note: Werner has talked about working in any job for half a year to save up enough money to make films. To quote an IndieWire interview “Werner Herzog Says Independent Film Is a Myth (and 7 More Good Ideas From the FIND Forum Keynote)“:”My answer is just roll up your sleeves and work where there’s real intensity of life. Don’t work in an office. Work as a bouncer in a sex club. Something like that. Work as a guard in a maximum security prison. Earn the money and then make your film, no matter what.“)
Lesson 06 – NEGOTIATION SKILLS
Learn how to negotiate in a tough industry and to have the confidence to fight to tell the story you want to tell.
Lesson 07 – LOCATIONS
Werner’s films are set in some of the most beautiful (and dangerous) places in the world. Learn the importance of location scouting, and adapting to your environment.
(Reporter’s note: Werner is known to be willing to go to some extreme measure to continue shooting in some locations despite obvious danger. In one incident fondly retold by Werner in this two hour long video “An Evening with Werner Herzog“, posted Sep 30, 2010 by University of California Television (UCTV), he actually got challenged for his permission to film in a location one time. He then proceeded to produce some beautifully forged documents a few days later for the officials. Yes, the permission by the “president” was a fake!)
An Evening with Werner Herzog
Lesson 08 – LEADING THE PLATOON
Inspire your crew, and lead them down paths that they’ve never been on before to tell the story you want to tell.
(Reporter’s note: Watch the clip “Werner Herzog on why he makes films” especially starting at 0:23. You will see a giant steamship being pulled up to the mountain top for a film Werner was shooting. One of the many cases that perfectly illustrates the theme of this lesson.)
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