Film & TV

Jodie’s Short Film: The Screenwriter-Director Collaboration

Jodie Foster

Lesson time 10:14 min

Jodie and Scott go deeper into how to make the relationship between a director and a screenwriter more fruitful and effective.

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 what do you think makes the best screenwriter-director collaboration? - Obviously, every director is different. And you've worked with so many amazing directors. And you have to, I'm sure, turn yourself into a pretzel for some of them. - Well, I think these are shotgun marriages, as I often say. You know, you're thrown into this intense situation. And you've just spent all this time with something. And now, somebody-- usually, most often, the director-- comes in later in the process. And now, they have their own ideas. And it can be rejuvenating. It can be inspiring to have somebody see into your world and have these ideas that make it better. Ideally, it's one and one is three once the director comes on so that you hope, like with all relationships, that you both want the same thing. And you may disagree about specifics, tiny specifics. If we're talking about "under her breath" and things like that, that's fine. But if you're talking about huge character issues, and the direction of the story, and the tone in particular-- because a lot of directors don't understand the tone you might have, or you might just have a simple disagreement. But if you're all, if you're in sync, I find that I try to, in every department, let the racehorse run, and see what people want to do, and try and understand what they're trying to say, and process it. Because you can be defensive. But then, you're killing the conversation. You're not enabling collaboration. And I may be listening to something I know I disagree with or have an issue with, but I want to see where they're going. Sometimes I'll be so instantly annoyed though, and I will make the mistake of jumping on something. And when-- you know-- when you get jumped on, you shut down. So now, you're both-- I'm annoyed. They're defensive. There's no conversation. So it's better to just take it in and listen and try and understand where they want to go. - Yes, full agreement. I've worked with a lot of writer-directors. And sometimes it's the best possible scenario, right? It's a real auteur the way you work. And sometimes I find, as an actor, I find that-- especially inexperienced writer-directors-- is that they tend to feel like the movie is that idea that they had in their hotel room when they were all by themselves, and especially writers who are really used to sitting in a room and typing all by themselves and laughing hysterically at what they've written. Movies don't work that way. There are 125 people. Also, some writers really get bogged down in dialogue and structure because those are the two big components. And it's hard for them to be free enough to see that movies aren't really about what people say. They're about behavior, and about complexity, and about how people do things that are against their nature sometimes. It's hard for them-- sometimes they get very syllogistic, and it's hard for them to see that human behavior doesn't always work syllogistically. Sometim...

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.

Thank you very much for the opportunity. It was a good class but I was hoping for a more in depth teaching with more technical teachings. Either way I enjoyed it and thank you.

Jodie Foster is someone I truly admire and appreciate. Thank you for being a part of this wonderful Masterclass...!

Excellent I could listen to Jodie talk about this subject for sometime. Thank you very much

A blessing. Terrific. Wonderful. Inspiring. THANK YOU!


Valentin B.

About the subtitles, I think the "INAUDIBLE" word said at 7:33 is the "Giger". Probably a reference to the work of HR Giger on the visual prepping of Alien.

RJane @.

Body language is harder to portray in the film because the film will be showed to a diverse audience. The director and the screenwriter have to make sure the audience get the message and understand what’s happening in the film. @RJanesRealm

logan P.

The best parts of a film are the parts beyond the reach of language and reason.


I've never conisdered doing a scene on set without dialogue but think that it is a great idea to try!

A fellow student

Where do we find the script they keep referencing? Can’t find where to download it. Thanks!

Carolyn S.

Excellent conversation about collaboration - how difficult it is and how to navigate the often rocky waters of working with others in a creative environment.


Simplistic brilliance. 1) her drilling down on the : Words get in the way. Experiential . " YOU TALKING TO ME ?". Most Iconic lines and scenes are born from experiential actors. 2) Problem solved, put on your tennis shoes and keep Doing it. And keep doing it ! Thank you.


LOTS of great tips on how to collaborate successfully among directors and writers for the BEST screenplay.


Once everyone brings ideas to the table, it is about compromising on the choices and modifying the structure as seem fit. Great lesson.

Jerry R.

Very good discussion, especially the part about writer thinking as opposed to director thinking. Writers do tend to think in terms of "dialogue," but not always. Once I had a terrific action scene in a script but a reviewer was very disturbed by it, saying, there's no dialogue, there's no dialogue, but what was the character supposed to do, talk to himself? He was the only one in the scene. I finally did break it up with what another characters were doing at the same time. That was a reviewer though, and not a director. Directors are more cognizant of behavior and what action is important, and when they're done with the scene, they don't want to add more dialogue, unless the scene absolutely requires it.