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Arts & Entertainment

Career Strategy

Werner Herzog

Lesson time 18:43 min

Be one of the ruthless ones who burst onto the scene. Learn how to deal with rejection and take control of your career.

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


I would say, if you are not going to film school-- and my general advice is to be skeptical about them. You spend way too much time in the film school. It costs way too much money. And you can learn the essentials of filmmaking on your own within a week, or maybe two weeks. All the rest, film school cannot teach you anyway. For me, short films were my film school. And it could still be the film school for many aspiring filmmakers. However, there are subjects that are calling for a short format, like "Plastic Bag," where I gave my voice for the plastic bag, in friendship to a colleague filmmaker, Ramin Bahrani. At the time I started, there was a lot of sense for doing short forms, because cinemas would have to pay less taxes if they showed a short film ahead of the regular program. What today is commercials, it was a short film which had some sort of evaluations and was considered culturally valuable. And I would have a film like this, and I could sell it, because the theatres would show it. That doesn't exist anymore. The short forms, I don't think there is a space in theaters. There's not a real space in television. I think the real fertile ground today is the internet-- YouTube, for example, or whatever. There will be formats out there, and you can easily present a short film there. And sometimes, the shorter the better. If you have a crazy cat video, it shouldn't be longer than 60 seconds. So my advice is, of course, always read, read, read. Watch films. Travel on foot. Travel on foot, which opens your perspectives, which opens the world up to you. [MUSIC PLAYING] Initiative. I think, in a way, I'm a product of initiative. And the real genius of initiatives was Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a colleague of mine who passed away way too early. And this was something-- I was blessed enough to grow up in post-war Germany, where there were no real predecessors. Filmmakers, we didn't have any fathers to learn from or to be proud of, because either they were exiled, like Fritz Lang and others, or they sided with the Nazi barbarism. So we knew we were on our own. And all of us immediately founded our own production companies. We started our own festivals. You see it fairly often when you are speaking to film students in the United States. They would not think about founding their own labor union. They would hardly ever contemplate to found their own production companies, to found their own festivals, their own film subsidy law, their own system of support. I do not see it very often. [MUSIC PLAYING] It has happened to me quite often. It will happen to all of you who are making films. And you have to-- to fortify yourself, in a way. I do remember my first feature film, Signs of Life, which won the National Film Award, which won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. I was just a kid when I made this fi...

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. 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.


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

Thank you. I started this course very doubtful, but I knew in the first minute this was going to be one of the most truly useful few hours of video learning I would ever experience. The whole course could have no improvement. I only now need to find a place where I can buy all of his films.

Amazing masterclass with an amazing master filmmaker. Truly recommend it to anyone interested in understanding the essence behind the purest and crudest form of filmmaking,

I think this is one of the best investment I´ve ever done.

Thanks to Werner, I got an insight into what it is like -and how- to be a filmmaker.


Graeme R.

I find Werner Herzog's vision and behavior repulsive, but I admire his insistent authenticity and sense of rightness.

Jerry R.

Very inspiring -- Rejection is not the same as failure. We all need to fail. It is part of the process. We all need to have rejection; it also is part of the process. Sometimes we are ahead of those we create for, and we have to accept that. Winning doesn't teach us much of anything.


Capture the moment. Getting into first tier film festival is the most challenging thing because of the amount of submissions they receive. If you don't have a star attached to your project on any level, the only way to get in is to make a remarkable movie. A project that is and feels new. A way of filming, narrating, or a story out of the box. The competition is fears but so worth it when you get that admission email.

Andre H.

I think the idea about the internet as the platform is awesome! Sometimes we are just thinking about film festivals or cinemas. But the internet is way-way strong

Rich C.

Transition or cusp? It's a good time to be involved in storytelling. With all of this going on (the things Werner discusses here), it really is like a beginning place again. Nothing has been done, so to speak, so everything is new and anything is possible. It's time to surprise people again! This is a gift of our times.

Richard J.

Yes Werner is right, I get rejections often, but I've learned how to get around that and still get my work viewed.

Alexandra N.

my film school was writing, directing, shooting, recording, and editing a short film based off of Werner's Nosferatu the Vampyre. It's called Josephine the Vampyre and it's on my profile if you want to watch it. :)

logan P.

Guys, have been reading the comments and I'm so pleased how inspired you all are. I have been working in film and tv for twenty years. I want you all to remember, a no today is a yes tomorrow. Life as an artist is quite a roller coaster, enjoy the ups, embrace the downs, and remain seated with your arms up for the entire ride!


Basically, be STRONG, be BRAVE, have your own philosophical views, find your GOAL, focus on your channel / platform, and make films with solid substance that will outlast all times. Thank you.

Maram J.

I love his transparency and honest. Rejection comes hand in hand with being a filmmaker, but as Herzog said "our successes will outlive our rejections". Great lesson!