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Arts & Entertainment

Directing: Production

Judd Apatow

Lesson time 12:07 min

From budgets to scheduling to managing a crew, Judd discusses important aspects of filmmaking and offers advice on how to tackle each.

Judd Apatow
Teaches Comedy
Judd Apatow teaches you how to write, direct, produce, and perform comedy for film and television.
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When I'm preparing for a shoot day, what I try to do is read all the scenes over the night before and remember why I wrote them. And that really is the part of it that is easiest to get lost, which is why are we here? What is this scene about? How does it serve the story? How does it serve the character? And you do have to take a breath because you're so busy when you're directing that you're exhausted and you can get negligent. So I'll just say, OK, I'm going to sit and I'm going to read this section of the script again, read the scene, and judge it. How is it? Did we nail it? Is this one of the weak ones that I have to make new stuff up on the spot to save? Or am I going to be a little more religious about shooting that scene the way it was written? Then, usually during visits to the location before the shooting day, I will have a sense of how I'm going to shoot it. So I'll get into space and I will-- in very simple terms-- say, I think they're sitting here or she walks in here, they talk there, she punches him in the face, he falls, she walks out that door. And then I try to block it in my head and figure out what those shots would be to cover that. On the day that we shoot, sometimes that changes. Sometimes you get the real actresses and actors in and you say, oh, that doesn't work because he's too tall and when he falls they would hit the table wrong and that door actually isn't the door to outside, that's a janitor's closet. And then you realize that none of your plans work. So we'll do it again on the day. But usually I have roughed it in in my head. I'm not someone that has like a list of the shots. I don't write it out. I generally have that in my head and I talk about it with the cinematographer, probably out of pure laziness. It's much better to have a piece of paper, you know? Master, two-shot, tighter two-shot, clean singles, overs, different angle, as they exit. You could write that out. I do not do it out of arrogance, out of pure arrogance. I just-- I get lazy. But that is a helpful thing to do. Here's the thing you're trying to figure out that's difficult. How long is it going to take to shoot this? So every day starts off with a conversation with the first AD and the cinematographer. This conversation happened in prep, as well, which is, how many scenes are we shooting today? How much time do you think each scene will take? How long will it take to move to wherever we have to go between scenes? So what I do-- and this is one area that I'm not lazy in-- I will say, OK, we all got to set at 7 and we are going to attempt to be shooting by 8:30, we'll finish the first scene by 11:30, we will shoot this shorter scene before lunch, we break for lunch, we're back rolling again at 2:30. I have three hours for the first scene and two hours for the second scene, and then I need one shot establishing this space, you know? Like an exterior shot of the building to end the day. And I'll have a very strict timet...

Get serious about comedy

No joke: at age 15, Judd Apatow took a dishwashing job at a comedy club to watch the acts. Today, he’s the comedic genius behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. In his first-ever online comedy class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct movies that leave audiences laughing.


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

I loved how thorough this class was and how generous Judd was in his sharing. I will watch it again as athere is a lot to absorb but really felt there were some great learnings here, thank you.

Absolutely incredible.. the specificity in how Judd teaches is beyond anything I could've imagined. VERY inspired.

Judd’s perspective and anecdotes of the lessons learned over his career are at the same time encouraging and sobering. Really learned a lot absolutely it the practical cal side of the business.

I have learned how long it takes and how making jokes is an art that takes time


Janet P.

Such great lessons and insight especially the part where he talks about directing isn't that hard. I think there is such an aura around it that people are afraid and it's like everything else...follow the recipe add your own spice and voila'. Loved that he said he didn't know what an Fstop was. Even after directing actors for ten years at auditions and directing a thirty minute drama and two comedy shorts I wrote, I was insecure about directing a feature. Now I'm not. THANK YOU JUDD


This is one of those areas that we are working to figure out for 4 different projects.


Great lesson, esp. about how important it is to be in control of the material and in control of your set, to make your day, to treat your crew with respect, and to make a good movie. I've been on sets that go 16-18 hours, and it usually makes the scene worse, not better.

A fellow student

The last two notebooks PDFs I've tried to download comeback with this message: AccessDeniedRequest has expired36002019-02-14T00:05:04Z2019-02-15T13:46:33Z56A96839FA170AF30ZuaU3NKtj9Pe+kPzFKT1xBey1qWhXvGcTokJnEHsvpU5m9h9zdF7nhggmCF5X54e+AeyOsRo8s= Is there another way to download?

George C.

In support of his point, the movie Tangerine was a hit at Sundance and was shown in theaters. It was shot on an IPhone 5s and Steven Soderbergh's latest movie Unsane - also shot on IPhone.

Meg N.

I appreciated the discussions of the cost trade-offs and the safety concerns, particularly the stick-to-a-thoughtful schedule aspect. It really is true, each person has a capacity that when exceeded, the work quality goes downhill... which in the end, especially if chronic, is far more expensive than the thoughtful schedule that has been adhered to.

J.C. S.

This section rings so true to me. I once made a animated parody of the movie Casablanca using only things found in the bathroom and a iPhone to film it. The bar of soap was Ingrid Bergman. A toothbrush stood in for Bogart's character. I did the all the voiceover work myself, sticking as much to the script as possible. In the final scene you've got a bar of soap and toothbrush in the foreground and a roll of toilet paper in the background (the plane on the tarmac) - and the scene is as moving as the original movie's version was. I showed the movie at the Asbury Park Film Festival and there wasn't a dry eye in the place, which worked out great because we had used the VISINE Eye Drops for the Claude Reins character.

Billy R.

Even though I don't think I'll ever be a director, this was a good lesson. It let me get inside how a director thinks, and perhaps know a little about how to write a script that might help the director out in some ways.

Amy J.

Long hours of any kind of work strains the body. The years I spent working as a video sign language interpreter, every fifty minutes we were trained to take a break. The mind and body are limited, my hands, arms and back became numb, my brain went on auto pilot. When that happened, my work went to shit. I fell out of character, my sign choice never came full circle for meaning and content. After five hours of relaying information between the hearing and the Deaf, I was worthless. Be respectful to other's stamina is what I learned.

Heather W.

Love his ethical approach to time, budget, and especially people and safety/