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Film & TV

Prepping and Scheduling

Jodie Foster

Lesson time 07:42 min

Prepping and scheduling is critical to your film’s success. Learn the tools and methods that Jodie uses in her films that you can apply to your own.

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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There's a part of me that is that boring Type A person. You know, I like things to be organized. I like to make lists. I like to have everything nailed down, so that when I get there and it's not going the way that I had hoped, I can move to plan B, knowing that I had plan A. I'm always aware of scheduling because it's going to impact on my performances. It's going to impact on my day. It's going to impact on whether I get the footage that I want. I shot list everything. Right in the middle, it says lunch because just a bunch of shots laid down without an understanding of where they're going to head-- where they're going to fall during the day doesn't allow you to have a sense of where you're headed. Very often, people will waste the early parts of the day, which is the most productive part. And then by the time you get to lunch, you realize you have 50 more shots left. What are you going to do? So always being aware of scheduling. Don't feel that it's not creative. In some ways, you're protecting yourself. You're protecting your ability to be creative by making sure that you have your parameters nailed down. I love to work quickly. I'm very well suited to it. It's why I like working in television. I like getting a lot done. I like being decisive. The best way to-- your crew will love to work quickly because they feel like they're not being taken advantage of and they feel like they're getting a lot done. But you want to make sure that it's not sloppy, that everything feels intentional, and that it's well prepared. The best money that you will ever spend in your whole life is on prep. If you can add time to prep and if you can prep more than you ever thought possible, you will be more prepared. You will save money, save time, save energy, and always have more on screen. If there is one piece of advice that I have, it's spend as much time in prep as you possibly can. It's the cheapest time on the film. It's when the clocks aren't running. It's when people aren't on payroll. It's just you, and maybe your producers, and maybe the writer. And you're sitting in a room and coming up with things, occasionally bringing on a first AD. He will help the director be motivated and be clear. He'll always be thinking forward to how to reschedule to make it go faster. If you can listen to your first AD and you have a first AD that's conscious and is really a solid filmmaker, as well as a solid technician, then you'll be able to get your day. The first AD is the person who controls the ambience on the set and makes sure that the actor has what the actor needs in order to give a performance. Some actors need to sit in a corner with a funny red nose on and sing opera. Who knows? Some actors need to be distracted. They need to not be self-conscious. They need to just drink a coffee and yuk yuk with the crew and then get back into their seat. But there is a line, for example, that we all know, which is that who the actors in front ...

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.

I'm obsessed with Master Class. Jodie Foster has been my favorite guest so far. So eloquent, prepared, and intelligent. Would love a masterclass on film editing, or even a "mini master class"

Within the format, a very comprehensive overview with lots of technical notes and tools, but also some authentic, personal sharing. I learned tonnes!

Wow! Ms. Foster was so enthusiastic and passionate, she was practically contagious. And the perspective and knowledge she has to share is far more valuable to me professionally than I would have thought. As my familiarity with her was as an actor, it was a revelation, and an enjoyable, informative one! Thank you!

This was my top filmmaking class. Jodie went into detail on key aspects of filmmaking and working with actors.



Absolutely 100% agree. Preparation is so crucial and hire a reliable Assistant Director.


Good idea to always have someone you trust go through your work and (quote) identity your weaknesses. Nicely said.


I think Jodie makes a great point that by being prepared, you're protecting your opportunities to be creative on set.

J'nee H.

The beginning needs a slight edit around the 2:15 mark. There is a referrence to the first AD as a "he." Big fan-- but girls can do it too :] The rest of the info is fab. The prep advice is spot on. It's also when you can look at what a shot might cost. You can look at how many people are in a scene, how elaborate of a set is needed, etc. All these details impact the budget.

Alonna S.

oops, lost my notes when the page reloaded! Don't waste the early part of day, schedule lunch into shot list, prioritize actors (PREP! including table reads. ask a trusted someone to identify script's weaknesses and be aware of them), try to let go of those initial "decisions that make you feel safe" for what helps the story.

Nikki S.

I love Jodie's attitude! You can really tell that this job excites her and that she absolutely loves it. I love learning new things from people that are really excited about what they know and love their job. Maybe one day we can meet! Would love to be mentored by her!

Ashley H.

Scheduling does allow a director with his/her DP to be more creative when filming. Many directors want to skip prepping and go straight to the "fun stuff" - filming - or they cut prep time due to the budget. The smaller your budget the more prep time you should allow so that your creative team knows the plan before shooting. This way you are not paying the crew to wait around while you discuss your shooting plan for the day. Planning the shot during filming also hinders the time you have to make creative "in-the-moment" decisions with actors and blocking as well.


Preparation an actor for all and any imaginable unknowns allows you to just be in the moment. Experience of three one act basic monologues. For every word spoken have two three or more differing understandings of where it could take you or what it means allows you freedom from self-consciousness, nerves, mostly moments to forget your lines and just breath relax until one grabs you. If props are treated the same way with many differing historic significance. If in a scene another actor forgets a line and stumbles a while. You have a prop to have a relationship with. But probably more suited for stage. Maybe improve before the actual shoot. Great lesson. She is so organically all communicating as a whole instrument. Great goal for me.

Elena D.

Love a director, who puts lunch on their shot list :) most days that is a luxury.


I think it's a challenge for many directors to make "Natural and Organic" movies with all the meticulous planning, scheduling and production. It's truly like a MEDITATING process of balance and harmony.