Film & TV

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.

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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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...

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.

Thanks to Jodie for the details and encouragement, and for being you! I've been rolling this idea around for a few years and it has to come out. Now I know I should drop the worry and "just do it."

Fabulous class. Jodie Foster is a masterfull teacher. I have discovered aspects about her craft and personality that make of me an even stronger fan.

Magical!!! Amazing! I learned so much. Jody Foster is a genius! A true artist! Thank you os much for his experience!

This instructor was able to teach from several angles the other directors did not have available to them. That she is such an amazing actor gave her a vocabulary for working with actors that very few have. As someone who has always felt that communicating with the actor poorly can destroy any hope of telling a compelling story that is rooted in truth, this lesson was invaluable. Thankful.


Gimante N.

Aside to this lesson, but did anyone hear someone’s stomach growl around 9:38 to 9:42? I was cracking up.

Zsuzsa K.

I love how she describes the process of getting conscious about what moves her and the clear analysis, which is both-philosophical and poetic: Two opposites coming together imperfectly (-or does she say perfectly??) to lean against each other in opposite ways and trying to connect, but are not able to. I never used this word "connection", but "communication" to describe the role of my art. Two people dancing together are also trying to comunicate. Comunication is a way of connection. This little live demonstration at the end is also fantastic and shows very lively the communication about the storyboard.

Dan U.

So far very informative. Working with a diverse group to achieve the desired effect but also focusing precisely on what effect she is trying to create. Thoughts communicated through physiognomy or facial expressions. She is literally taking this frame by frame. Audiences pick up on this immediately and appreciate it immensely.

A fellow student

This is such a great lesson, Jodie is truly inspiring and her expertise and passion for this work is truly evident. Thank you!


I’m coming from the camera department perspective trying to envision myself in directing my own writing. I found this helpful.


The closest I've ever been to film-making was creating sale videos of jumping horses (set to music), so I'm watching this more as an author who dreams of seeing her stories on the big-screen someday. But, I'm finding this fascinating and I love Jodie's approach. Especially her focus on the inner story of the characters. It's reassuring to know that is considered in the movie making process.

Sydne H.

I love that she continues to reiterate the importance of asking what is true to the vision, the character, and the story so that in the end your project illustrates the evolution it was intended to tell. Side note: you can feel her passion through these videos and that alone is inspiring.

Erin E.

see, I'll probably never make a film. may write one, that's all. but this is so good about collaboration and even just what art is all about.

Noah H.

In addition to what I just posted: the pdf for this lesson is extremely helpful. I'm considering a project to work on and the materials in the pdf are excellent reminders.

Noah H.

This was a wonderful lesson. It's hit all the notes I needed it to. I wish my film classes in school had been as well-delivered. I've been taking Jodie's class in tandem with Ron Howard's and that combo has definitely been working for me.