Arts & Entertainment

Directing: Shooting Comedy

Judd Apatow

Lesson time 14:33 min

There is no reason not to make something. Judd demystifies the process of directing, explains how he taught himself filmmaking, and provides rules for always capturing the content you need.

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

Topics include: Learn the Basics by Reading Books • Take Advantage of All Resources at Your Disposal • Always Get a Clean Single • Shoot With Multiple Cameras to Capture Subtlety • Give Yourself Alternatives for the Editing Room


There are many things that I wish people told me when I first started out. One was it's not hard to direct. For years, I thought, it's so hard to direct. I'm so scared. And I waited a very long time to direct because I thought, what if it doesn't work? What if the eye lines don't match? What if I get all the film and I put it together, and it just looks like craziness? And then I finally directed, and I realized, oh, the DP make sure it looks good. Why did you wait an extra seven years to do this? So my first lesson is you could direct now. You have a phone. You can make anything with your phone. When I was young, if you wanted to make a movie, you had to have a Super 8 camera. You didn't know how to work it. You had to take a razor blade and cut the film together. You didn't know how to get sound. It costs a lot of money. And once you had a Super 8 film, how is anyone going to look at it? Nobody had a projector. No one was going to look at it. So you would work hard, make something that no one would look at. Now you can make something funny on your phone. You can edit it on your phone. It's all free. So basically, there's no reason not to make little comedy films. The only reason is you are a lazy son of a bitch. I'm a voracious consumer of all comedy information and was since I was a kid. So if I was to advise people about what else they could do to learn, I think that you could start with the books. There's a lot of great books out there. John Sayles has an amazing book called "Thinking In Pictures." Sidney Lumet wrote an incredible book about filmmaking. You could just Google best books ever about filmmaking and read them. And very early in my life, I heard that Woody Allen said that everything he learned in film school, he could have learned from reading a book. And also, reading the book, "The Art of Dramatic Writing" by Lajos Egri. There's no way I pronounced that correctly, by the way. But that really made me feel better because I thought, oh yeah, so you can go to film school-- and there are some people who love it. They get so much out of it. And they make movies. And they love the professors. And they take everything from it. And there are other people that just make their own movies, and they learn it all as they go by educating themselves and reading books. And I go into Barnes and Noble all the time. And there's books that are not even thick. They're thin books, and they explain the angles and the shots. Here's the master. Here's singles. Here's dirty overs. Here's a tracking shot. I mean, there's not that many shots. Here's my best piece of advice for you. None of this is that hard. People make it seem very mysterious. They talk about it like it's so complicated. There are things that are more complicated than this. Almost everything is more complicated than this. There's some artistry involved that you either have an eye and a feel for it or you don't. But the technical aspect of it is not that complica...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow teaches you how to write, direct, produce, and perform comedy for film and television.

Explore the Class
Sign Up