Film & TV


Jodie Foster

Lesson time 17:21 min

Jodie argues that casting is one of the most important decisions you can make as a filmmaker. Learn how she approaches the casting process and what you can look for in an actor when casting your own films.

Jodie Foster
Teaches Filmmaking
In her first-ever online class, Jodie Foster teaches you how to bring stories from page to screen with emotion and confidence.
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Casting your movie, I would say, is the most important thing, because there are a lot of choices that you can change in the moment. There are a lot of decisions that you can make and remake over time. But with an actor, you've chosen a human being that comes with a whole history of possibility and impossibilities. And hopefully, you've made that choice carefully, because in 20 minutes, you're not going to be able to change drastically somebody's entire performance. Hopefully, you know when you cast an actor-- you've known that you're on the same train, that you're speaking the same language, that hopefully you're telling the same story. And hopefully, they are open enough to tell you what they've been working on. I think people sometimes believe that a director entirely creates a performance from an actor. I've never found that to be true. I found that a director can inspire an actor to bring a performance to the table, that a director can collaborate with an actor during their process. But it really is the actor who, through preparation, brings everything to the table. And then it really is the director as a kind of dog whisperer who's able to shepherd that actor and to shift and maybe change them slightly in certain different directions. But you really only have a few minutes to change an actor's performance. So it's-- hopefully, you've gotten the right actor. Occasionally, an actor will pop out to you when you're reading a script. But for me, that doesn't happen very often. I think-- for me, I think about the story first. I think about the changes that I might want to make to that story, the development process of the script. And then little by little, actors might emerge. The casting process is really what starts making it all bubble up, where you start seeing actors say the lines. And you start understanding why dialogue works or doesn't work. And then you start understanding why that actor is correct or why that actor isn't quite right. That process of having that time of watching actors inhabit the characters and come up with things and bring things to the table, that to me is so important. And I would never cut it short. These days, we have all this technology with video, and you can see people remotely. And you can scroll through 50 different performances in a very short period of time. And sometimes that shortchanges the process of hearing the words over and over again spoken, watching actors grapple and struggle with problems in the screenplay. I like to take as much time as I can in the casting process. And I like to be in the room if I can. I've been working with the same casting director for many, many years, a good friend, Avy Kaufman, and Avy, a very well-known casting director. We were all very young together. And the experience that we had together that I think was the most seminal for us was finding the little boy to play Tate in "Little Man Tate." We went through hundreds of children, lots of actor ...

Storytelling in action

Go behind the scenes with two-time Oscar-winner Jodie Foster, star of Silence of the Lambs and director of Little Man Tate. In her first online film class, she’ll teach you how to bring your vision to life. Jodie discusses her experience on both sides of the camera to guide you through every step of the filmmaking process, from storyboarding to casting and camera coverage. Everyone has a story. Learn how to tell yours.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Wonderful insights, on-target advice, loved this course.

It was just a pleasure to listen to Jodie's wisdom and experience. I enjoyed watching her meetings with the writer in particular and her discussion of shots and working with actors was also very interesting. Thanks.

Helped me think of the greater journey as I'm a writer which can be quite insular.

What a great class with practical lessons including very intersting and insightful material next to the course book. Thank you!


Dan U.

Jodie Foster is quite knowledgeable and equally bright. I grew up watching her movies and rejoiced in how she made me feel. It is a pure delight to hear her council on all things acting and directing and related subjects. You simply can ask for little more.

RJane @.

In casting, the staff has to find the right actor who can become the character. @RJanesRealm

J'nee H.

Again, great advice about knowing the lines-- even arriving in the appropriate clothes for the character helps during a reading. Big difference from Indie type casting calls compared to big studio productions.

Alonna S.

"decisions through fear [...] we have to look at that objectively, stand outside of yourself objectively [...], intellectually talk through your instincts and (find) that balance between control and freedom."

Frank L.

This is great! I'm learning a lot, even though I'm not a filmmaker:) Thanks Jodie!

piankhi I.

A very insightful lesson, Jodi's attention to detail in building a scene and shooting a scene was helpful. She takes her time to explain every little detail. Thanks again Masterclass you put together a great series with Jodi.


the most valuable subsets of differing tiny points of view I have (almost) every seen. Thank Master Class. Something true does not, when given in small subsets need to be reviewed. It just rings a bell. ( Dog Whisperer, O NO ! )


Directors are looking for me; Awful at interviews but an exceptional actress and amazing team player. I am the actor of all actors... I have strength. Superstar me!

Carlos S.

It reminds me of the story about Al Pacino in The Godfather. The studio did not want him but Francis Coppola kept struggling until he show them the scene in the bar, when he shoots the cop. Then there where no more interferences by the studio.

Jo E.

This lesson I found pretty interesting about how to cast the best person for a particular character. To look at how an actor can bring something to a character from their own personal experiences.