Film & TV

Jodie’s Short Film: Building Your Story into a Screenplay, Part 2

Jodie Foster

Lesson time 18:33 min

Jodie reunites with Scott to continue workshopping the draft screenplay inspired by her real-life experience. Learn how Jodie collaborates with writers to help build character, tension, and realism into a scene.

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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So after our last discussion, Scott went away like a busy little elf and wrote a brand new draft that has a lot of changes to it. I would say the biggest change is that the character has a kind of bad ass quality to her. She's somebody who's definitely lived and she's more hardened and tougher. And we're going to be able to see the different layers of covering that she has. He also wrote a scene-- a lovely little scene with a little boy, where they get to have a little moment together. And kind of a different ending, where there's a new character that is a spectre of-- it shows us that she has a history of some issues with her parents, et cetera. So if you haven't seen it yet, you'll be seeing it after this discussion that I have with Scott, who I have on the phone right now. I'm going to walk him through some of the changes. Some of these changes will also reflect a view towards shooting and trying to be economical, because you can't have everything that you're hoping for. All right. Hi, Scott. - Hello. What do you mean you can't have everything that you were hoping for. - Not today. - Not today. JODIE FOSTER: Not today. - All right. I'm ready. - One of the things I was thinking about-- I noticed the other day I had to go to a hospital, and I noticed that a lot of paperwork, they do on computers. And most of it, maybe, would already be filled in, so I was thinking that instead of the first-- when the woman's voice comes in over black, maybe the first thing she says is, you didn't fill in your address. I thought it might be a good idea to have Amy answer something a little more vague, like, "Huh?" Instead of, "No." Just so it's almost as if she's just waking up, because we go from black unceremoniously to a big wide close up, so that there is just this, almost-- a sort of confused, you know, just, like, huh? Like, what are you saying? Then the woman might repeat it again, your address. That would get us into Amy confirming that she's between residences right now. So I thought maybe a way around the curse of the emergency room research problem was when Amy says, "It was a fucking emergency," maybe the next thing she says is, "He keeps getting sick." And this would be consistent with tonsillectomies, is usually one of the reasons why you have to bring them in for surgeries is that they just keep getting sick over and over again. They can't get rid of the infection. - Here's my question for you, because the parents show up at the end. It's sort of-- I thought she just grabbed this kid for a few days, and that she's not had him for a long time, that he got sick, she didn't know what to do with him, so she brought him to the hospital. And the kid may have told her, I've had tonsillitis 16 times already or whatever. - Yeah, yeah. And then, I mean, what I was thinking is that she may have information about him, but she may not have been able to see him that much. So she may know that, you know, he has a ne...

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.

So informative and interesting. Thank you Jodie for inspiring my inner stories to emerge on to film.. Appreciate you so much and what you've given in your movies and in this Masterclass.. Hope to meet you some time or even work with you..

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.

An inspiring voice. Ms. Foster simply leapt from the screen and into my room and somehow in the impossibility of reality, seemed to see me and speak to my deepest dreams, questions, fears and wants to make me more readied and excited to just do it. Adored! Thank you!

best method, best masterclass i've done so far. she has a really easy way of explaining and showing things.


Rebecca F.

I agree with Carley! This is so great to see the collaboration. So helpful to see & hear Jodie's first idea (in the previous lesson) and her real experience. The process of each person in the collaboration. Witnessing the actual steps of how the two of you work through the story. Wow. I can't wait to see the clip. I've never seen this before and I so appreciate it. I've done it, a bit, with producers, but have never seen it taught. Bravo!

Frank T.

Absolutely amazing. To see the give-and-take between the writer and the director and the actor, and each of them are at least two of those things is beyond anything you could get in a book or other type of classroom


This is such a great class. I'm learning so much from the dual points of view in regard to telling the story. Both Jodie and Scott have a lot to offer here.

The Fool

From my previous experiences in life these kinds of dialogue between professionals is one of the most valuable learning opportunities a person can have. Every book , most books, are one side, one voice trying their best to convince that their viewpoint is the correct one, the same holds true with classroom lectures or power point slide drone alongs as they tend to be, yet the kind rapport between creatives that Jodie presents here invites you into a process that is growing and branching as you watch it, like a plant and sunlight working together to bloom a flower in real time, or the neural networks created in your own brain by participating in conversation.


Wow! I am amazed at how much detail they talked about from the STORY IDEA to the SCREENPLAY. Great learning experience. Thank you.


I’m a (great) film actress. I would take notes and/or direction as the Director seems fit. Good class :)

Sofia E.

It always comes down to the story for me, so getting to sit in on part of the story development was great. Loved Jodie’s repeated reference to the character’s “covers,” what she’s presenting on the outside, feeling on the inside and the unconscious influence as well. Loved Scott’s comment about moving from “slice of life” to “bigger than life.” I imagine that can go more in one direction or another depending on the Director’s vision for the film.

Carlos S.

For me, as a writer, this is the most fascinating collaboration. Again, Frank is one of the best. He puts his soul into it. I love this lesson because it is as honest as the writing process can be. Kudos to Jodie, Frank and Masterclass. Maybe we can have a Scott Frank Masterclass. Would´t that be great. Cheers.

Richard B.

I think it would have been interesting if the hospital scene with nurses running around and kids screaming reminded Amy of a women's prison riot she was in. It can throw her a bit off kilter and also make the "bad choice" option more suspenseful. Granted, the scene is an example to show the process of collaboration and I really enjoyed it to the point I brainstormed my own idea off of it.


I loved seeing Jodie seamlessly change hats between director and actor, then back again, all while being professional and open to other's expertise. Seeing Scott's process was helpful as well for when I work with producers and directors. Glad to see Save the Cat! on our reading list, it's my go-to for story development and refer to it often.