Film & TV

Jodie’s Short Film: Building Your Story Into a Screenplay, Part 1

Jodie Foster

Lesson time 29:21 min

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Jodie translates a real-life experience into a dramatic scene with Scott Frank, the screenwriter of her first film, Little Man Tate.

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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The process of coming up with the scripts, whether it's for a short or for a feature, there's a lot of different ways to do that. I decided to find a personal moment of my own, something that I'll never forget, just a little blip in my life, I'll tell it to you now. And then we'll turn it into a scene, or maybe a series of scenes. We'll see as time goes on. When my son was probably-- I don't know-- five-years-old, six-years-old, he had to have his tonsils and his adenoids out and some ear tubes put in there as well. We took him to the lovely hospital, a wonderful otolaryngologist, is what she's called. I hope I pronounced that correctly. And as he was going into the anesthesia, we were kidding around with him. And there came a moment where the anesthesiologist said, we're going to play spaceman. And he started talking to him and making him laugh about how they were going to count down, count backwards. My son was too young to count backwards. He put the mask over his mouth. And he was laughing and smiling with me. And he started counting backwards, or frontwards, in his case. And there was just this kind of devastating moment, where as he was counting, he realized that something was happening to him. And I projected while I'm watching him, looking at his eyes, I projected this kind of fear and betrayal that somehow I'd betrayed him, that I had lied to him, that I told him that something was going to happen that wasn't happening. And now his body was melting. And he was out of control. And at that one moment, I wanted to stop the whole procedure. Because I felt like my child was-- was going and that I had done something terrible to him, and that there was no way for me to stop this experiment. I wanted to say, wait, wait, wait. And at that, his eyes rolled back in his head and crazy, twitchy things happened. And he was out. I was devastated. I was absolutely devastated in that moment and, you know, shaken, taken away. They said, everything's fine. It's going to be great. 15-20 minutes later, they wheel him back in. He's asleep. Everything's fine. And I hear kind of a funny sound over there. And it was like, wow, there's kind of a funny sound over there. And then suddenly, my son pops up like in a scary movie and starts screaming and kicking and going, no, no, no, craziness. And I'm trying to hold him down and tell him that everything's okay. And tears are coming to my eyes. And a nurse comes over and pops him with some kind of anesthesia that just knocks him down. And she explains to me that, oh, this is completely normal. This is just a immersion trauma. This is how we know that the anesthesia is harmless. And at this I'm floored. I'm completely floored. The child has been crawling, trying to grab on to me and say no. Of course, everything was fine. 20 minutes later, he woke up and said, this is the best hospital I've ever seen. I can't wait to come back to this hospital. They gave him some kind of a balloon or a teddy...

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.

she's very emotional. and she knows very well how to emotionate people. i like her style and approach, she's so kind and real

I loved the fact that Jodies class is a mini process of writing a scene and producing it. BUT was dissapointed it stopped in the middle and diffused

Spent 4 years studying 'film' at university... wish I had just watched this instead! Everything I wanted to know and more.

Jodie is so eloquent, and a real pleasure to listen to. I respect her knowledge, experience, and commitment to truth. She explains the process of filmmaking in a way that is clear, supportive and valuable. Thank you Jodie :)


Al H.

This is amazing insight into both the level of control (or vision) a Director has and the intense rapport they need with a screenwriter. Loved it.

Caleb M.

I love the insights between Jodie and Scott regarding tone and performance to be consistent, creative and believable! Great stuff here!

Iddo G.

I love it that Jodie's course is practical, we experience the whole process with her and not just learn.

A fellow student

It’s fun to watch the interaction and collaboration between these two great minds! Truly inspiring...

Heather H.

Are you kidding me?! Getting to watch Jodie Foster break story with Scott Frank?! I've died and gone to heaven. What an embarrassment of riches! WOW!

svetlana Y.

This was really interesting :) The writer is 100% right about the big picture, but her input as an actor who is basically already in character does enhance the way scenes are constructed a lot.

Nina T.

I appreciate how they collaborated in this process. It’s exciting to know that even though as a screenplay writer, no matter how many times you rewrite your script when the director gets involved they make minor and sometimes when needed, major changes to improve the story you’re trying to tell, and I love how the director envisions what you’ve created as a writer and takes hold of that vision and improves on it to help bring your story to life.

Ryan K.

For those having an issue with downloading the PDF. The popup that shows on the video itself didn't work for me a couple times. I tried the "Download PDF" button though below the video description and that worked no problem. Maybe give that a shot? Fun video to see the creative process between her and Scott though!

Theresa P.

This has been one of the most helpful MasterClasses I've watched so far. Seeing the decision-making and collaborative process is really useful. Excited for Part 2.

Xavier L.

That's my girl!! Love her to death man!! I'm a fan of her films and I'm a fan of her being a teacher too!! She's Jodie the Great! Much Respect to you babe!!