Jodie Foster shares 50 years of filmmaking experience in an enthralling masterclass that is designed to appeal to several different audiences.
A fascinating insight into the world of filmmaking
I am not a filmmaker, yet I thoroughly enjoyed this course and managed to learn a few things.
It was engaging and well-presented. Following the course was tricky in places because the main target audience of Jodie Foster’s Masterclass is students of filmmaking. But, I still think most of you will find this course interesting and informative.
She has been working in the industry for 50 years. Both in front of and behind the camera. During that time, she has been nominated for nearly 60 film and directing awards. Winning most of them. Four of those nominations were for Oscars, 2 of which she won.
There is no doubt she has plenty of experience. So, whether you are a filmmaker or just a film fan, this is a great masterclass for you.
How to find your personal story
If you can experience being moved, you can move other people.Jodie Foster Teaches Filmmaking- Masterclass.com
The first step in creating a movie is coming up with an idea. Jodie Foster takes you very quickly through the process of finding inspiration. She does this by tapping into her own experience and feelings. Her advice is to think about:
- Things that inspire you
- Things that catch your attention and interest you
- Things that you feel passionate about
- Anything that obsesses you
You have to believe in what you are doing and have an emotional attachment to your movie. If you do not, standing out from the crowd and getting funding will be impossible.
Identifying the big idea of your film
This was a little odd. Apparently, the big idea is not the plot. It is the story which, surprisingly, can evolve as you are making your film.
It is quite a hard concept to grasp. But, Jodie Foster provides you with several examples and a few exercises, which should enable you to learn how to identify and develop your big idea. Doing that will help you to create a memorable and meaningful movie.
How to turn your story into a screenplay
I do a lot of writing but have never written a screenplay. So, I found this section of the course to be particularly interesting. It is a long section. So, I suggest that you put aside an hour or so to go through the material and do some of the exercises that are included in the workbook.
Jodie shows you how the inspiration for stories and scenes can come from all kinds of places. It is clear that a lot of her best ideas come from her own life.
One thing that I wish I had learned when I first started as a director was that all I really needed was confidence, a pen, and paper.Jodie Foster Masterclass for film making
I really liked the way Jodie drew on the experience of the screenwriter Scott Frank, for this section of the course. She goes over a few ideas with him in real time. An approach that provides far more insight into the creative process than it would if she was to just carry on talking to the camera. She even shows the viewer her typed notes, which she has also annotated and edited.
She provides you with an insider’s view of the writing process in a way I have never seen done before. There is no doubt that Jodie Foster is an excellent teacher.
I was especially impressed by how open Jodie Foster was. She has a reputation for being quite a private person. So, I was not expecting her to ‘let her students in’ to the extent that she does. When you take this course, you get to see the real Jodie Foster.
The workbook is invaluable for cementing your understanding, at this stage of the course. It contains further explanations, several exercises, and a few additional tools to help you to develop your screenplay. The character drawings Jodie drew made me smile, but I can see that using them would be effective.
Creating and communicating your vision
Getting the look of your movie right is a big part of the creative process. Jodie does not go into quite as much detail as she did when explaining how to write a screenplay. But, she does provide quite a long list of techniques you will be able to use to give your film the right look and feel.
For example, taking photos and printing them out to help you and your team to visualize things. Or explaining the ambiance you are trying to create for a scene rather than just listing cold facts.
Again, she uses samples from her own movies to illustrate each point. That includes how she uses music to help her to create the vision she has.
Make sure that you watch the 2nd video, as well. In this one, Jodie takes an important scene from The Beaver and deconstructs it for you. This includes the sketched storyboard and details of how Jodie paces the shots and films to create the right level of tension.
It would be great to see one of the filmmakers on Masterclass make a full course about this aspect of filmmaking. I, like most people, know what a storyboard is, but have no real understanding of how to put one together. So, I would like to see this explained in a lot more detail.
How to handle the writer/director relationship
At some point, a film usually moves from the hands of the writer to the director. When that happens, things change. Often, radically.
It is all too easy for this stage of the filmmaking to be where things go off the rails. The nature of the relationship between a writer and director means it is all too easy to end up butting heads.
In this section of the course, Jodie highlights this potential issue and shows you how to handle things so that the film stays on track. She explains how to find the balance between compromise and staying true to your story.
How to construct a scene
Jodie’s process is a little different from most directors. This is mostly because she started her career as an actor. So, she sees things more clearly when she looks at things from that point of view.
She explains how to put yourself in the shoes of each of the characters in a scene. To me, this sounded like a time-consuming process, but I can see how doing that would help you to construct a scene that is believable and engaging.
I was so pleased to find out that, like me, Jodie is not good at drawing. She does use storyboards, but only when she absolutely necessary.
Using my Masterclass all-access pass I have taken a few of the filmmaking courses. Interestingly, each director has a very different approach when it comes to creating their scenes.
So far, I would say Jodie’s is the most understandable and practical approach. Whether you are already making films or want to start to do so, I think this lesson is one that you will benefit from greatly.
Jodie covers far more than just the look and feel of the scene and where everyone is and what they say. Throughout this video, she talks extensively about camera angles. But, does it in a way someone like me, who rarely takes videos, can actually follow and understand.
This was a truly excellent section of the course. The workbook for this video was also great.
If you do take this course, try watching one of Jodie’s films after going through this section. I did that, and it made for a far more interesting viewing experience. Having an insight into how she works makes you pay more attention and see the difference the various shots make to how you feel while watching the movie.
Prepping and scheduling your movie the Jodie Foster way
I am a type A person. By that I mean I like to be prepared and know what needs to be done, in what order I should do it and roughly where I should be at any stage of the day. Although I am not very good at following through and staying on track.
If I ever got into filmmaking, that would have to change. Jodie Foster is a demon when it comes to prepping and scheduling.
She goes through why you need to prep carefully and how to set a viable schedule. Importantly, she tackles my Achille’s heel – staying on track. Even when things do not go as planned. Another interesting section, that taught me a few things I can use in my day-to-day life.
How to cast a movie
The title says it all. How to choose the right people to bring your characters to life and adapt when someone you really want cannot do your movie.
It was especially interesting to learn that Jodie and her casting director follow their guts a lot when casting.
If you are an actor looking for work, the information in this casting video will be invaluable for you. It will provide you with an insight into how directors think when deciding who to give the part to.
How to understand and get the most out of your actors
To be a good director you need to be able to get the best out of your actors. That means understanding them, respecting them and knowing how to talk to them.
This is where Jodie comes into her own. She has been on both sides of the camera, so truly can give you an insight into how actors think and feel. What motivates them and what turns them off.
In her “how to direct actors” video she explains that as a director you have to act a bit like a parent. Be clear about what you need, but use understanding and empathy to get your actors there. Once again, she provides you with tons of examples to help you to understand each of the points she is making.
Again, this type of information is missing from a lot of the other Masterclass.com directing classes. Providing you with another good reason, to take Jodie’s filmmaking masterclass.
If you are mainly taking this course because you are a fan of Jodie Foster, this is the video you should start with. It provides you with a real behind the scenes look at who Jodie Foster is and how she works. I promise you that she has never spoken so openly about her acting before making this masterclass. All of her fans are in for a real treat.
How to get the shooting process right
I really liked the way Jodie Foster approached this subject. She has clearly worked on big budget movies. Films where you have the time and money to shoot everything and leave a lot of it on the cutting room floor if you need to.
Despite this, she stepped into the world and minds of most of the people who are likely to be taking her masterclass. People who are very likely just getting started in the industry. A fact that means they have to work in an economical way. So, she explains how to shoot a successful movie, even when you are working with a tight budget.
For this part of the course, she provides a case study. In it, she explains how to sort through several takes of the same scene and pick out the version that will jump off the screen and connect with the audience.
Learn how to edit your movie with Jodie Foster
The information in this video is squarely aimed at actual filmmakers and I have to admit that a lot of what she said went straight over my head. But, I still enjoyed getting an insight into the editing process.
How to set the scene for your film using music
The music is the thing the erases all the seams.Jodie Foster Masterclass.com
I enjoyed the way Jodie Foster uses her soundtrack to re-enforce the characters she has created. It was especially interesting to learn how she chooses music that complements the story. I can’t quite see how I will put what I learned in this part of the course, to use. But, once again, getting the chance to take such a deep look into the creative mind of Jodie Foster was a real treat.
Jodie Foster’s masterclass extras
As you can see from my masterclass overview review, when you buy one of these courses, you get a lot for your money. As well as an excellent workbook that provides you with additional information and exercises you get the chance to have your questions answered by Jodie Foster, herself.
A great masterclass to give as a gift
I have given several friends a masterclass.com course for their birthday. People seem to really appreciate receiving them. Probably because it is clear that some thought has gone into their gift.
The cooking courses seem to be particularly welcome. Surprisingly, I think this course could also make a good gift for quite a few of my friends and family. It is definitely not just for filmmakers. This would make a great gift for most movie lovers, especially if they like Jodie Foster’s films.