Arts & Entertainment

Shooting Your Film

Jodie Foster

Lesson time 10:50 min

Directing a film is a series of choices and compromises. Learn about the tools Jodie uses to track her film while shooting, including set notes and reaction shots.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Make Coverage Choices · Be Open to Improvisation · Reaction Shots · Set Notes · Jodie’s Money Monster Set Notes · Rely on Your Script Supervisor


There are a lot of things that waste time on movies. For example, you have five setups. You have one incredibly wide shot. And then the other ones, they're little pieces that you're going in for. Your wide shot, you can barely see the people's mouths move. So please don't do 25 takes of the entire scene, and print them all, and give the actor notes based on this wide shot. You're probably only going to need one take or maybe two takes. Go in and get the other stuff afterwards, and don't waste all of your time getting the wide shot perfect. Allow yourself to go in for the other shots. With movement very often when you start a move, and you know that you're going to keep this move, you want the beginning of the move, and you want the end of the move. And that means you're going to be stuck on this shot for the whole thing. If you make that decision that you're going to keep that shot, then you don't need those lines for any of the other pieces of coverage. So you don't need to get everything perfect if you know that you have the money shot. So the shots that are really in your head are working. So that's really where a lot of time gets spent is I think people want everything perfect, and they don't have an understanding of their cutting pattern, or their potential cutting pattern. And they've heard that old adage of get coverage. Get everything. Get every choice you could possibly have. Large films can afford to not make choices. A little movie, got to make choices and keep moving on. If you are decisive and you know what you are trying to say, less is often more. So you can be flexible. Let's just say, the sun is setting. You didn't get everything that you were hoping for. You have five more shots that you've prepared. And it's a scene where the little boy-- in "Little Man Tate" the little boy and the mother are together, and nobody's come to his birthday party. And he sees that there's nobody there. She goes to comfort him, but he doesn't want to be comforted, and he walks out of the room. Now, on that particular day I had five shots prepared in order to tell that story. And we just didn't have the time. So what we realized is that there was something really beautiful about hanging out wide, of seeing this beautiful composition, of seeing everything happen like a silent movie. It allowed the scene to not be so sentimental. And I saw that in some ways the constraint that I had allowed me to find something in the scene that was richer. Very often the constraints that come up, whether it's the sun going down, or the crew has to break for lunch, or your actor broke their knee, these happenstance things that happen allow you to open up to improvise, and to come up with something that in some ways is clear and much more the point of your vision than you ever anticipated. There's a scene that I'd love to introduce you to where Lecter is telling her-- is kind of reading her her beads, and saying, you know, you with your good bag a...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Jodie Foster

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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