Chapter 12 of 26 from Werner Herzog

Camera: Techniques


Werner teaches the basic rules of cinematography—and how to break them—to maximize your creative vision.

Topics include: Orientation in film • The Kinski spiral • The Nazarin walk

Werner teaches the basic rules of cinematography—and how to break them—to maximize your creative vision.

Topics include: Orientation in film • The Kinski spiral • The Nazarin walk

Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog Teaches Filmmaking

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

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Capture the spectacular

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. You’ll learn storytelling, cinematography, locations, self-financing, documentary interview techniques, and how to bring your ideas to life. By the end, you’ll make uncompromising films.

Watch, listen, and learn as Werner covers every aspect of filmmaking, from pre-production to distribution.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Werner will also critique select student work.


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

I love him. He must have been my grandfather and we had not know this.

A mentor indeed! Such a knowledgeable teacher! I would recommend this to any filmmaker!

A master of his craft. Herzog's class is incredibly engaging and provides insight to what has made him so successful throughout his 55 yr old career.

Fantastic job on the intro. Loved the entry, editing, titles, story from the beginning -starting with nothing, no concept and going from there.



Adding things to your movie just because it makes you feel happy is a good lesson. Werner is such a passionate man and seeing him react to his Iguana scene is incredible.

Eric G.

Brilliant lesson. Incredibly informative with insights into his creative processes. The iguana scene rocks. I don't recall how much of it stayed in the film, but it was a brilliant moment...I see Cage was as ripped as normal...or maybe this is one of the ones where he actually is acting. Werner was inspiring with his youthful animations.

David H.

I don't see how the descriptions under the examples match what needs to be said about them.

Charlie G.

Holding shots is something Werner and Peter Zeitlinger do so well. Many cinematographers and editors strive for a variety of shots, but they let them sit with the audience. "Into the Inferno" and "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" both open with long and continuous shots, but they never feel dull. Hearing his reasoning behind these types of shots was really interesting.

Vic W.

Any ideas where I can find that French film WH it Deuxieme Souffle by Melville ?

Michael K.

It doesn´t matter if you have expensive film-equipment like a Cineflex-helicopter or just a handheld camera or a simple tripod --- important is the idea behind your filming and a clear concept for using your camera techniques. It´s interesting how Werner steers the audience with his concept of aimed orientation and disorientation. - - - I think that´s the secret of every Werner Herzog Film!!!

Boyana P.

I've never wathed the movie The Bad Lieutenant but I love the actors there. Definitely I will watch it.


I LOVE how he analyzed every scene and move in detail. It's tricky and beautiful. I got to try some of these camera techniques!

Jose M.

I am so glad he talked about the Iguana moment in Bad Lieutenant. I LOVE that scene!!! So far, Werner has been blowing me away in his class.

Irv K.

Some of the techniques including the distorting of view was amazing. The iguanas were hilarious!


One of the things that is quite often overlooked by directors is orientation in film, that you know where you are as an audience. When you are in a complicated apartment, and it's, let's say, a hostage taking film, and you know the hostage takers, because you look down the corridor, come from the right, and that's where the kitchen is. So I want the audience having a general pattern of orientation. Where are we? what's coming from which window? And also, for example, a film, Waterloo, it's interesting, because there are three different armies, and they're marching all towards the battlefield. And just from the direction, the way it's filmed, you know, oh, those are the French. Those are the Brits. Those are the Prussians. You know. And it's very hard to establish that. And I want to have an audience that doesn't need to worry about where am I suddenly. And of course, it has to do with basic principles of filming. For example, a dialogue, if you have two actors, the two faces, and there's an invisible axis between them, you better stay on one side with the cameras, or with your camera. On the axis, you film this face from there and that face from there. Or you can be behind it, over the shoulder, but stay behind this axis. So otherwise, you immediately have an disorientation. But it's such a primitive law of how we see movies or how we see configurations. Because if you trump the axis, you film that actor from this side of the axis and then the reverse shot on that from the other side. Both actors on screen would look in the same direction, and it would be immediate disorientation for the audience. One example where you really can learn a lot is a wonderful film by the French director Melville. He did a film that is Le Deuxieme Souffle, the second breath. And there's a scene. A little gangster goes up the stairs to an attic, because he's been summoned to meet some rival gangsters. And he knows they want to kill him. And he goes into this empty apartment under the roof, and he looks around. And you see empty chairs. Where are they going to sit? If they hold him up, where would he stand? And he stands behind an armoire, and he raises his hands. So he, in the future, the configuration in space, he figures it out. He raises his hands, and he takes his gun and places it only inches away from where his hands would be. And then it's very beautiful. One of the rival gangsters has watched him entering the home. And he wonders what did the guy do there. And he goes up into the empty apartment and looks and says, what did he do there? And he sits in one chair and then in another chair, and walks around and stands against the armoire. And he finds the gun. So the configuration, which is only something that becomes essential for life or death, of the protagonist in the future becomes an architecture of possibil...