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Film & TV

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.

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 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...

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.

Jodie Foster is a gift. Thank you for this class.

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

Jodie's masterclass is exceptional. She is so articulate, interesting and inspiring. Definitely one of my favourites so far. Highly recommended.

I've learned mostly to be open and flexible with my filmmaking techniques, and to be more receptive to new ideas.


Anastasia T.

The Set Notes mentioned is missing in the Class Resources Page, would someone from please upload this missing file?

Kerry G.

Jody is very knowledgeable and informative in the process of working with actors and breaking down scripts. I never thought about the relationship between an actor and director in the manner she describes as a parent and child and how to best inspire them.

Melvin H.

Mrs. Foster killed it with the reaction shot section. That was worth the price of the whole class. As a director, do I move so fast and get so wrapped up in technical concerns that I don't even look for truth in reactions? As a filmmaker, am I so involved in the words I ignore the effect? This will make me slow down.

Jerry R.

Very nice take on not doing things perfectly and still getting it right for the audience. I also like her comment on reaction scenes. Often that scene is the point of it all.

Ellak E.

Jodie Forster is an amazing filming artist. She has acquired quite a great sense for filmmaking and I am learning a lot of things with this MasterClass. It is also enjoying to watch her talk to the camera like if she was talking to me, haha. Films are great and there is a significant job in the process, I am getting that. Some ways to simplify, and some ways to complicate. Taking notes, drawings, going through the script many times, giving indications, being flexible, knowing about the actors, being supportive, good communication skills with the crew. But I think that Jodie Foster sometimes underestimate her skills, I would say to her to take the time to feel awe for herself and who is her and what she has achieved, because gratitude is important not just doing and doing fast things, but also appreciate oneself and the journey. EK

Jo E.

Great Class...and as a writer it helps me to know how to work with actors when the time comes to shoot.


I love this class. Reaction shots are always the most challenging. It shows if an actor is listening to the others, or if the actor is just self absorbed. Thank you Jodie for sharing your notes.

Lance T.

Thanks Jodie - I appreciate seeing your specific approach to your own script note taking.