Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Set Rules

Werner Herzog

Lesson time 15:46 min

In filmmaking, if you're on time, you're late. Be professional: Organize your set to tell the story, not to impress anyone. Forget the director's chair, turn off your cell phone, and stay close to your actors.

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

Topics include: Shoot times • Slates • Keeping things small and efficient on-set


I think we should move to practical things. Practical things. We have been into ideas and there's lots more, but I'd like to talk a little bit about the most imminent, how to organize a set. Here we have a set. 1, 2, 3, 4 cameras. And I think one camera was up there. It's still up there, which I think doesn't help us very far. But whatever. So how do organize my set in the first place? I'm basically a one camera guy. And I think you still see it around in the film industry. You see it, for example, in that director who makes Batman. His name is Nolan. Is it Christopher-- Christopher Nolan. And I really like him for that. Number one, he's still in celluloid large format, celluloid. Any he's basically a one camera guy. And I like this attitude of focus. I never have a director's chair. I do not like them. I loathe them with your name on it. In fact, I never had one in my life. And it's some sort of a standard ritual, which I do not like. And since I always threw out the idea of having my own chair, normally the actors, or producers, or other people feel embarrassed and they don't sit-in a chair. They say, yeah, but where am I going to sit then? I said, number one, I'm not sitting normally I'm standing right next to the camera. And secondly, if I need to sit, there's some apple box or something next to me. I grab an apple box and sit on it. I also do not have a trailer. It's one of these other status symbols for directors, which sets certain hierarchies. And if you have a trailer everybody in the crew, the heads of department, the actors are constantly fighting and squabbling about the size of their trailer, and the air conditioning in it, and the plasma screen in it. And it all somehow disappears. Of course, actors have to withdraw and they should have their trailer. I personally do not need it. And I waive my right to have a chair or a trailer. And I'm doing very well on a set, so I have no problem not having that. During lunch break, I normally join the a camera truck, the guys there, because normally they have the best beer. I would not like to have the so-called, video village, a play out on video. It's very, very distracting. I have been at a set of a Hollywood movie when I was shooting "Bad Lieutenant" in New Orleans. And Forest Whitaker, who was shooting only two blocks away from us, sent somebody. Oh, come over. I love your films and let's have a talk and so. And I arrive at the set. And there's a video village I bump into that first . 30 people looking at screens. And you only see-- excuse the expression-- you only so asses. You just only-- nothing else. And everybody is staring at the screens. However the actors were very, very close by and you could have watched the actors live. And I think the impression that you get when you really ...

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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