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.

Really enjoyed it. Felt like a private moment with Jodie. I do with they would have gone deeper in the short film. Show don't tell :-) Show us how she would shoot, edit etc.

When I finished Aaron Sorkin's class, I completed my first script and I determined I wanted to direct it. When I finished Ron Howard's class, I knew that I could. When I finished Jodi Foster's class I realized how I would direct the film. Now I am looking forward to more Master Classes. Every one I've taken has been more than I imagined.

Thank you for the detail included in the lessons. Seeing the storyboarding to the types of shots, the original footage before we see the edited version. . . Those types of details helped a lot.

There was so much material, so interestingly presented, that I don't yet know what I have truly learned. Perhaps a month from now, when look back at recent choices, I will notice how many reflect the impact of this learning experience.


Rebecca F.

The trick is finding others to collaborate within which it's going to actually happen. You have to collaborate with people who have resources. You two are so real and you talk about real things.

Rebecca F.

Also, it would be great to always have this great collaboration with the actor and director. You two are great together!

Rebecca F.

I'm a screenwriter. I had no idea this Masterclass was going to cover this! Scott is so honest, which is so very refreshing and Jodie comes from the actor's point of view on top of it. So surprising and I'm so happy that I picked this class.

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!

Cela S.

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.