Arts & Entertainment

Camera: Cinematography

Werner Herzog

Lesson time 17:41 min

Learn how to paint with light, work with cinematographers, and bring your vision to life with extraordinary images.

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

Topics include: Creating a visual mood • Operating with your whole body • Working with cinematographers


Today I see it very often that young filmmakers at film school, they keep demanding, we need the state of the art camera, this Sony camera. So, yeah, that was great three years ago. But there's a new one, we have to have it. I think that's a silly idea. You have to be capable to make a photo with a shoebox, a needle to drill a hole into it, and a plate of celluloid at the end, a pinhole camera. Before you ask for the state-of-the-art camera, show me a photo that you have done with a pinhole camera. And the same thing, by the way, with cinematographers. I do not allow them a viewfinder. I do not like it. They better know what the projection lines of your 150 millimeter lens is. I think it is part of the professional caliber that they don't need it. You just don't need it. You know what is in frame with this or that lens. And of course, you establish the distance of your camera to the characters or to your scene in a certain point. Or here this camera, where, no, it's shifting, it's moving. And it will not lose me out of sight, but it will lose my hand out of sight if I grab over here. So I don't even know which lens you have at the moment. But I assume that I have to be cautious with this lens. I know that with this camera it's probably a wider lens. And I can even stand up. And I would be head to toe. And it's interesting, filmmaker Jean Rouch, who made one of the finest films, documentaries I have ever seen, Les Maitres Fous, The Mad Masters, shot in Africa in Guyana, I think in 1953 or '54, before the independence of Ghana. It was the Gold Coast still. And still a British colony. And he shot the entire film with, I think it was a camera, where you have this hand cranking sort of thing to it because it doesn't have batteries. So the longest shot he could take was something like 24 seconds or 25 seconds in one lens. And he made one of the finest films ever made. It's about street workers who lay asphalt in Accra, in the capital city. And on the weekends, they go out in the mountains and they drug themselves with I think the bark of a . And they stagger around and they reenact the arrival of the British High Commissioner. It's just unbelievable intensity in it and kind of insight, crazy, completely stark mad, insight into colonialism. Very, very advisable for young filmmakers to see. One camera, hand cranked, no batteries, one lens. Hold the camera. Operate with it. Don't look at the flip screen, look through it. You have to look through it. You have to know what you're doing. And I will get up because I will show a few things. What I do when I do camera myself, which I've done in quite a few films, and when I do handheld, number one, I grab the camera and I have my elbows solidly tucked to my body. And I look through the camera. And everything, it's not that I op...

About the Instructor

When the legendary director Werner Herzog was 19, he stole a camera and made his first movie. 70 films and 50 awards later, Werner is teaching documentary and feature filmmaking. In this film class, you’ll learn storytelling, cinematography, location scouting, self-financing, documentary interview techniques, and how to bring your ideas to life. By the end, you’ll make uncompromising movies.

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Werner Herzog

In 6 hours of video lessons, Werner Herzog teaches his uncompromising approach to documentary and feature filmmaking.

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