Chapter 11 of 18 from Jodie Foster



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.

Topics include: Casting Can Shape Your Story · Follow Your Fascinations · The Casting Session · Case Study: Jennifer Lawrence in The Beaver · Tough Calls: Check Your Instincts · Keep Fighting for the One You Believe In

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.

Topics include: Casting Can Shape Your Story · Follow Your Fascinations · The Casting Session · Case Study: Jennifer Lawrence in The Beaver · Tough Calls: Check Your Instincts · Keep Fighting for the One You Believe In

Jodie Foster

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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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 class, she’ll teach you how to bring your vision to life. Jodie brings 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.

From storyboarding your vision to collaborating with actors, learn filmmaking from an Oscar-winning Hollywood legend.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and access to exclusive supplemental materials from Jodie’s archive.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Jodie will also critique select student work.


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

Ms. Jody Foster's masterclass really inspired me, both as a novice filmmaker and as a human being. I like that she emphasis the important of the "human factor".

It sure has helped me improve as a filmmaker. Every film director is different. I love the way Jodie Foster tackles on the role of a director based on her experience as an actress. A great place to start.

This class has so much to offer, it's great! You can tell Jodie puts a lot of thought into what she does. She has so muck knowledge and experience to offer. This gave me a lot more information to think about in my own work.

that masterclass was great! thank you very much!


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.


I'm curious about how this advice applies when you have a very limited supply of actors. I'm not in L.A. so MY fear is that I will not find the one I need and have to settle. We don't exactly have hundreds to choose from. Has anyone run into this problem on an indie film or am I just projecting?


Casting a movie is one of the crucial steps of making a good movie. Jodie really brought up all the aspects of casting, and it doesn't matter how big the production is, you can never predict what your actors will do while the movie is in production. This is a huge leap of faith as well as making the right decision.


Really nice to hear about the audition process from both sides of the coin. I've been in both Director courses and Acting workshops where there's an "us vs them" mentality. The attitude that the other profession is the enemy is so common. Yes technically they speak a different language so its important to learn how the other sees the process. This discussion is great for closing the divide and hopefully we can all understand that actors and directors are actually on the same team.


I don't know that she realizes that some of the advice she gives about how to make a movie can apply to life. The quote from this segment, which I truncated for the purpose of making my point, is absolutely wonderful to apply to one's life, "Very often, people will make decisions through fear. I think that's natural. I think it's a human condition, that we try to avoid things that scare us. We might try to steer away from things that are bold. We might try to not do something that exposes us too much personally. And we have to look at that objectively. I think you have to stand outside of yourself objectively and make sure that you're not choosing...because you're afraid of something."


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 ...