From Jodie Foster's MasterClass


Meet your new instructor: Oscar-winning actor and director Jodie Foster. Jodie talks about her perspective from both sides of the camera, what you’ll learn in her class, and why filmmaking means so much to her.

Topics include: Jodie Foster Teaches Filmmaking


Meet your new instructor: Oscar-winning actor and director Jodie Foster. Jodie talks about her perspective from both sides of the camera, what you’ll learn in her class, and why filmmaking means so much to her.

Topics include: Jodie Foster Teaches Filmmaking

Jodie Foster

Teaches Filmmaking

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The one thing I wished that I had learned when I first started as a director was that all I really needed was confidence and a pen and a paper. I thought that somehow I had to know every lens size, that I had to be aware of every type of film stock. The truth is, is that everything that you have to know is inside of you. Every decision making process is instinctual. And as long as you have a pen and a paper to write it down, you're in good shape. I was a child actor. I started when I was three years old. I understood that the director had a full vision, that the director could make decisions that would influence how the film was and how the film ended up on screen. I understood that the director was in charge of dreaming the dream. I think the first time I got the bug to direct, I was about six or seven years old. I was on a television show called "The Courtship of Eddy's Father." And one day I came to work and the man who was playing the father, Bill Bixby, was the director that day. I was stunned. I couldn't believe that they let actors become directors. And I watched him that day, directing the crew, setting up the shots, talking to the actors. And I knew immediately that that's what I wanted to do when I grew up. We're going talk about a bunch of things in this course. We're going to talk about working with actors. We're going to talk about working with technicians, whether it's your script supervisor, your first AD, your DP, your production designer; how to work with a screenwriter; and how to recognize shifts and changes that you'll need to be making in your script as time goes on, how to develop it. And then there's all the technical things, how to make a shot list, how to choose coverage, how to work with an editor, and how to edit down the sequences that you've come up with. I'm going to give you the actor/director's perspective, somebody who inhabits both sides of the fence. So acting and directing simultaneously and what you may need to know about how to get your own films off the ground. One of the reasons why I wanted to teach this class was I wanted to bring the excitement of creating a signature and expressing yourself in a work of art. For me, that's been the whole point of my life. It's been the greatest joy of my life, is to take everything that I am and everything that I think, and I feel, and I question, to put it on an arrow and to shoot it outwards, and to hope that it connects with other people. One of the things that you achieve by doing this is a real understanding of who you are, of your identity, where you come from, your signature, what you love, and why. You're opening yourself up to people. You're connecting you to them. That means you to the crew, but also you to the wider audience. Really, that's the joy of making movies. I'm Jodie Foster. And this is my MasterClass.

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."

This is an inspiration that relates indirectly to my life. It is motivation to use my creative will to make my vision a reality.

I am an amateur possible film-maker. I have dabbled in home created projects..filming, editing, acting, writing. I love every aspect. This gave me many ideas and suggestions. I cant wait to start..something.

I love the advice and Jodie's energy, her passion in the explanation of the process. she looks directly at the camera and you feel as if you're there


Theresa P.

I got goosebumps listening to this intro. It's strange, but that permission slip to go for it really sank into my heart. I have a feeling this will be one of the most truly helpful Masterclasses on directing, both big picture vision and practical, on-the-ground advice. Looking forward to diving in and soaking up this wisdom.

Lucrecia Sarita R.

Hi Ms. Foster, Thank you for your MasterClass. Please let me say, I've never been so knocked out by an actress/director as yourself. There's isn't a work of yours I wouldn't cross swords to see.

J. G.

Thank you Ms. Jodie for contributing. I can’t wait to begin and in anticipation will be saddened to finish.

Chelsea D.

I loved this class! Jodie is a great teacher, she is very good at articulating her process and translating all of her knowledge and experience into clear and concise thoughts that less experienced students can follow and understand. There was the right amount of discussion and examples to illustrate the points. I really liked the lessons where Jodie showed the collaboration with Scott, I found those very informative and helpful. This was a great class. I felt like I learned a lot and it gave me a lot to think about. Thank you Jodie for your time and for generously sharing your knowledge with us.

Elizabeth R.

I have been reflecting all day on this amazing image you use, Jodie, of your courage as as an actor and director, "of taking everything you are, everything you feel and question and put it on an arrow and shoot it outwards and hope it connects with other people." I began this morning reflecting that as a producer and editor, I have often felt like I am the bow. After immersing myself in listening to your recorded videos on MasterClass, as synchronicity would have it, I just read a beautifully evocative passage from Madeline Miller's book Circe. She speaks of casting spells as learning she can bend the world to her will "as a bow is bent to an arrow." I think more of being the bow that is bent to the arrow. "I thought," Circe continues," this is how Zeus felt when he first lifted a thunderbolt." I think of translating the essence of a writer's vision to the first drafts of a script that a director and actor will then interpret and make their own may be a kind of magic. To try render as truly as possible the essence of a writer's characters so they may indeed be shot forth and connect in the world. "I did not call dragons, or summon serpents. . .I found I had a knack for illusions. . .but my greatest gift was transformation," Circe says. She again is speaking of spells, but the words somewhat exquisitely echoed what you shared about your signature being looking for stories about how people transform. Of knowing oneself through the work. I know, this is true for me. Does it speak to you?


I have watched your career ever since you were a little girl in a pepsodent, I think, commercial commercial. and I was a Public Speaking and Theater Arts Teacher some 40+ years ago! I'm a writer now and so looking forward to getting to know you better, and learn from you as you share your creative insights.

Sam M.

One thing that's never taught in filmmaking: communication One thing I need more than anything: learning how to communicate my ideas and collaborate. So far, she said everything I'm looking for in a class and I am extremely excited.

Jason C.

Wow, I'm already overwhelmed with positive emotion and inspiration. Thank you Jodie.

Luan H.

Working at Panavision London 2002 as a Camera Assistant learning how to use Film Cameras I saw a poster of ‘Contact’, boy did that make me feel less alone. As a pioneer in Film I am grateful for your inspiration. Thank you for the classes I am really enjoying them.

Marcelina M.

I am a documentary filmmaker. All aspects of filmmaking hold ideas and information that can be used in producing all film. I am here to learn and be inspired by "a master". Here is my current project: Elsa Gidlow (29 December 1898 – 8 June 1986) was a British-born, Canadian-raised, American poet, freelance journalist, and philosopher. Elsa triumphed over childhood poverty, lack of formal education, and family tragedy to become a pioneering lesbian poet, bohemian free spirit, spiritual mystic, an apostle of Eastern philosophies. By being true to her nature, she remained decades ahead of her time. wrote On A Grey Thread(1923), the first volume of openly lesbian love poetry published in North America, when she was 23. With collaborator Roswell George Mills, Gidlow in 1917 published Les Mouches Fantastiques, the first gay and lesbian magazine in North America where gay and lesbian lives were celebrated. In the 1950s, Gidlow helped found a bohemian community in Marin County, California. The community became known as Druid Heights, the name she had given to her land. Gidlow socialized with many famous artists, radical thinkers, mystics, and political activists including, Ella Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Tom Robbins, Margo St. James, Allen Ginsberg, James Broughton, Baba Ram Dass, Lama Govinda, Li Gotami, Robert Shapiro, Maude Oakes, Robert Duncan, Clarkson Crane, Sara Bard Field, Kenneth Rexroth, Albert Bender, Catharine MacKinnon, June Singer, Fritjof Capra, Lou Harrison, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, Robinson and Una Jeffers, Dorothy Erskine, and Maya Angelou. Some of these came to, or were frequent visitors of, Druid Heights. Then in1962 she, along with Alan Watts and his wife Jano, formed the Society of Comparative Philosophy. She provided Alan a place to live and write during the last years of his life. Elsa was the author of thirteen books and appeared as herself in the documentary film, Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives (1977). Completed just before her death, her autobiography, Elsa, I Come with My Songs (1986), recounts eight decades of her life story. The working title of the film is "Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman". Already in production for a year, research materials have been collected, the architecture of the film decided, and almost all the interviews with people living that knew her have been done. The people who are now dead will be played by actors, scripts coming from their writings on their friendships with Elsa. This is Elsa looking back over her life from her own perspective, "this is never really the end".