Arts & Entertainment


Werner Herzog

Lesson time 19:16 min

Editing begins on the set. Werner's methods are unique, and will give you a practical way to cut through the footage to make a beautiful film.

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

Topics include: Being ruthless with your footage • Logging footage • Getting feedback


It happens quite often that you come back with an impression from shooting, this was a great moment. But in context, in editing it doesn't really work out. It doesn't fit. So you have to be careful that you do not enforce your will and your structure on your material. It has happened to some films where you can tell that the footage was squeezed into a form and into a flow of narration that was not within the nature of the footage. You sense it as an audience. And what I'm doing is quite often I consider my footage as if I found it somewhere. Somebody made it. So let's be curious. What's there? What does material tell you? What does it have to offer? And all of a sudden you discover elements in the footage that you would never have discovered if you had had a very strong will to enforce upon the footage. [MUSIC PLAYING] What I do prepare during shooting is let's say creating long term, over full hour film, a climate which makes seemingly unobtrusive shot into something grandiose, Land of Silence and Darkness. If you see the scene at the end with deaf and blind man who touches and feels the branches of a tree. And by itself it is insignificant, but the film sensitizes you. More than an hour, an hour and a half almost, until you are there. Or, for example, in Aguirre, the Wrath of God, throughout the film you see the army or the troop of Spanish conquistadors. And they have a clear goal. They move from left to right. When they're floating in the water on the raft, somehow, imperceptibly, bit by bit, very carefully planned, we lose orientation because they are losing orientation. And at the end of the film, and we showed a clip, it seems to go in circles. In fact, the camera is circling around it. It's like a vicious circle which is going into infinity and having a movement throughout a movie, very, very elaborately planned until it ends in an infinite circle. That's something which was anticipated for editing. The 22nd of February. Most of the men are so weak and sick with fever that they cannot even stand. The soldier, Justo Gonzalez, has drunk my ink thinking it was medicine. I cannot write any more. We are drifting in circles. [MUSIC PLAYING] [MUSIC PLAYING] When we watch the footage, I write logbooks. And I love this very solid paper, like doing for artists. And I write down what I see and I give it some sort of time code. And when I come across something very, very strong I give it one exclamation mark. Sometimes you find two explanation marks. And sometimes you find three of them. And in these cases I know that this is footage, it is so intense, it is his so strong, if I do not use this in the film, I have lived in vain. I actually write down quite a bit you can see how much there is written down and how far I follow the footage of everyone. And sometimes I start to write commentar...

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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