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Film & TV

Finding Your Personal Story

Jodie Foster

Lesson time 09:07 min

To help you find the story you want to tell, Jodie gets personal. She speaks candidly about failure, identity, and self-knowledge so you can learn her process for authentic filmmaking.

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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Moving you doesn't mean that you have to be in a puddle crying on the floor. "Moving you" means what inspires you, what interests you, what makes you passionate, what makes you obsessed, what makes you stay up all night thinking about something over, and over, and over again. Sometimes I understand what moves me, and sometimes I don't. For example, for some reason-- I don't know why-- when I see two people dancing, it just it brings a tear to my eye. And I'm not really sure why. Why is that? Do I have some kind of childhood trauma -- childhood trauma revolving around dancing? I don't think so. I think as I start pondering it, and I say watch, maybe, you know, two ballet dancers, or as I watch an older couple in a ballroom, you know, learning how to dance the tango, you know, what is it that gets me? And as I start thinking about that, you know-- why am I moved, why am I moved-- I start chipping away at those ideas. I come to understand that it's something about maybe two opposites that come together imperfectly to lean against each other in opposite ways-- this continual movement of two opposites trying to connect and not quite able to connect. So there, I took the personal experience-- something that had its foundation almost in something unconscious. And I was able to chip away at the ideas behind it. As you make a film, you're obsessed and attracted to something emotional. And then you try to chip away at the whys. If you can understand why something moves you, or even without understanding-- if you can experience being moved, then you can move somebody else. That, to me, is the most important role that filmmaking has is connection and making people better instead of worse. And the best way to start that is by hopefully trying to get better instead of worse. Big theme for me is-- is it people in spiritual crisis. I keep coming back to this. You know, every movie I tend to be drawn to, that I want to spend years on is about somebody who's going through a spiritual crisis. And this person-- this man or this woman-- is-- is trying to make sense of their life because they're trying to get better instead of worse. There are some directors that are really interested in behavior and in themselves, and they're not that interested in their character trying to repair themself. Martin Scorsese, for example, is really fascinated by men and violence and how they live this life or this culture of violence. But he's not as interested in how they repair that and become somebody better or become somebody greater. That's not his area of interest. But for me, that really is. And you'll notice that many of my characters are struggling with, you know, how do I become a more realized person? And that-- in many cases, that is the whole object of the film is to take that person from a lost state, from a broken state, to a state where they can suddenly, maybe start to repair themselves, whether it's the little boy in "Little Man Tate," ...

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.

Foremost I am an artist and writer, but I have always been interesting in the movies, and I have ideas to take some artwork forward to the screen, building story upon it. I am a big fan of Foster, and I got many important, useful insights from her in this lessons! Thank you!

Loved the class! Loved Jodie. Learned so much.

I found this class very informative. Jodie has a lot of different perspectives from wearing different hats in front of and behind the camera. Each of these classes broaden my mind on the topic. They make me think of things I never thought of before and also look at things with a much wider and a more varied point of view.

I have a newfound appreciation for directing & film making. It's a wonderful experience to learn from Jodie.


Gabe B.

One of the biggest ways to draw out greatness in someone is to ask questions and so far Jodie is asking me the right questions.

Mary S.

Wonderful MasterClass. Jodie draws you into her world with her great storytelling approach. She makes you want to hear more of her process and her perspective on film making. I am not a film maker but a lover of films that goes way back to my childhood. Going to the movies was my way to escape into my imagination. Now that I am in my 7th decade of life I still take that same trip into the movies.

A fellow student

"I was born with a skill that I had no control over and kept getting a lot of attention for." I can relate so much to this. As a child I was hyper verbal and viewed by family friends as "precocious." When I reached young adulthood (tweens and teens) the very things that I was praised for began to lose their meaning: there's no such thing as an elderly wünderkind. I have admired and looked up to Jodie my whole life for myriad reasons, so hearing her say that failure or the sense of being a failure is still, after so many incredible accomplishments--a persistent driving force in her work is so bittersweet. On the one hand, it makes me feel less alone in my own similar experiences and perceptions, but on the other it suggests that this feeling isn't one that goes away. Perhaps the most inspiring part of this particular lecture (besides Jodie herself and her clear passion for the work) is that the very sense of failure which is a stumbling block for so many of us in our creative (and other) endeavors can also be an engine which drives us to work harder, dig deeper, and in doing so, learn new things about ourselves and the world we live in. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to get insights from one of the most gifted actors and filmmakers around and so grateful to Jodie for sharing her time and insights with us. It is truly an exhilarating experience.

Zsuzsa K.

She speaks so passionatly and in such a sparkling way! It´s so inspiring! It´s great how she gives examples about herself what moves her and figuring out why. It´s such a wonderfull example with the dancers how one can be moved unconsiously and make it conscious in an other step and use these ideas in an artistic way. I love her connections and associations! It also moved me that she talks about feeling not enough.

Katelyn J.

I'm loving how in depth this course is! A ton of films nowadays are explosions and fluff, so it's wonderful that we're focusing on creating things with gravitas and meaning in the first lesson! I especially like how honest she is about the process and her personal struggles, as it makes me more comfortable writing out my own and really thinking about them (not easy for an INTx to do.) That being said, now I have to figure out how to translate the brain process of 'this color palate' and 'this music' into words.

Fateh S.

Seven Samurai: Unity is necessary to Win a war. Fight Club: Finding Purpose in Life and escaping the shackles of Society Drive: What makes a Real hero? Lawrence of Arabia: Lawrence wants to escape his small stature in Life

Tyler S.

I love how she talks about failure and feeling like a failure to herself, despite the numerous accomplishments she has achieved. It's super relatable and it's very true that feelings of failure can in fact be the motivator, rather than a negative thing.

Dan U.

I’m ‘feeling’ this artist whom I grew up watching and so adore because she never acted as a character...she because the character. Most importantly....when I say feel I mean those emotions that are almost impossible to describe but we all recognize them when they are projected toward us or we project them. Foster has that ability and is in a class by herself. Mia Shaw is pr has made meaningful contributions. Stay tuned....

Mia S.

"The stories that I choose to tell are usually, really quite difficult things to face. They're reckonings. That's something that I'm really drawn to is a reckoning - of myself, or of the other characters. To me, that's a bittersweet thing - the beauty of understanding but also the beauty of understanding how small you really are. And who you thought you were at the beginning, what you were obsessed with, what you were drawn to, inspired by - that story that you had to tell also transforms because you transform. It's a way of kind of repairing the self, and I don't know any other way. I guess that's the part that compels me to continually make films and to use that as my medium, is - I don't know what to do with all of these thoughts and feelings, and the only way that I know how to work them out and to come to terms with them is to get that paper and to write it down, to make choices, make decisions and say 'That's it, that's it, that's it,' kind of the way when you do an eye exam, you say 'that's in focus but that isn't' - shoving that to the side - 'that's in focus, but that isn't.' Every choice that you make, that kind of decisiveness, is a narrowing to be able to hone in on something that is simple and true."

Mia S.

"When a producer is hiring a director onto a job, he or she is hiring an unknown. A producer is hiring somebody who he's handing all of the reins to - he's handing all the power, really, to the director. And that's why it is such a scary thing to do for producers; it's probably why most of the directors that you've met in the past have been straight white men. Because frankly and psychologically, producers have always been comfortable handing over the risk of those reins to somebody that looks a lot like them. But these days, we have a much more diverse group of people, and producers are looking for that extra special thing that makes you more qualified than somebody else. What is that thing in a pitch that you're going to bring to the room that makes them trust you, that makes them feel that you have a strong vision, that when push comes to shove and there's a problem that you're going to be able to find it within you to troubleshoot. And I always believed that a personal, emotional language and a personal connection is the best thing to bring into that room. Yes, you can talk about the shots you're going to use, your casting choices, the intellectual reasons for why you like the project. The thing that has the most resonance is that you have a central, personal connection to the material. Don't feel shy about laying that out in the room. It's something that producers and the people that are in the business of hiring you will be very attracted to."