Arts & Entertainment

Creating the Vision for Your Film

Jodie Foster

Lesson time 14:15 min

As a director, your job is to communicate with your collaborators to create the vision for your film. Jodie discusses the tools she uses so you can bring your ideas to life.

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

Topics include: Creating a Visual Language · Start From the Emotional Centerpoint · Assemble Your Team · Create a List of Your Decisions · The List: Little Man Tate · Every Choice Needs a Reason


In the beginning of getting a movie together, when you finally maybe get your green light and you're ready to go, you're going to have to start assembling a language-- a visual language, a sound language, a musical language, all of the different languages that are going to come to play in accomplishing your screenplay. And you're going to start hiring people, piece by piece. You're going to have to talk to them about what's in your heart, what are you thinking, and you can use anything that feels comfortable to do that. Sometimes you can use images, images that might have come off of your iPhone, or that might have come from books at the library. You can see that I have a bunch of iPhone images in the back of us that I might put together in a little book and show to the cinematographer or to the production designer about ideas that I might have for locations, or what things would look like, or colors, or framing. How to achieve movement, ideas that I have about movement. Or maybe even just references from paintings. References from mythology, for example. Anything that helps you have a dialogue will work. It can be movies. You can show ideas from films, moving images that you've seen. But first and foremost comes the emotional and character-driven dialogue that you start about your movie. [MUSIC PLAYING] I always like to use an emotional language to start with. So instead of saying, for example, I'd like you to make the light bright. And I want you to shine it on the actor's face and I want it to be darker behind, I might say, to start with, I might say I want a feeling of the character being isolated. I want a feeling of just, of being inside their face and having them floating and not really knowing exactly where they are in the world because they're disembodied. I start with that language and then we move into the techniques that allow us to get there. We're always translating each other. So we're always using different languages in order to speak to each other on a set. You have 175 people, or perhaps more, that have different expertises. With the director of photography, for example, you may speak very differently than you might with a composer. That's why starting with an emotional language is always the right place. I always see people-- sometimes young filmmakers can get overwhelmed because they think that there are-- they look at the movie and they see that they have a schedule of 35 days, and they have so much to accomplish, and they so much to say. And they can get mired down in all of the technique and the technology that they may understand or not understand. And the truth, really asking that very simple question, is it true or is it not true? Is it real? Is it not real? Is this true to my experience? Is this what I really believe? And that process of wanting to communicate more of your self towards the other is really the most important question that you have to ask, and that's really the language that yo...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Jodie Foster

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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