Werner Herzog “Teaches Filmmaking” in his MasterClass. The question is — Is it worth the HYPE?
Let’s find out.
The man who has thrilled the world with his astonishing work in the film fraternity is teaching filmmaking from scratch.
He is none other than Werner Herzog who has been honored with the Cannes Best Director Award and Directors Guild of America Awards for his remarkable work.
Herzog has managed to wrap up the entire filmmaking process into 26 lessons in his MasterClass.
In this article, I am giving a brief overview of Werner Herzog’s MasterClass, for whom the course is made, what all you will be learning, the pros and the cons, how it is unique compared to others, etc.
I also cover my experience in learning from Werner Herzig, make sure to read till the end.
Werner Herzog MasterClass Review: In a Bubble
Werner Herzog’s MasterClass is plotted in a way that covers sections of all aspects of filmmaking. Not only from the direction point of view but everything that goes in the making of a film. That is what makes this MasterClass by Werner Herzog stand out from the rest.
To know more about MasterClass, you can refer to our detailed MasterClass review here.
As I said, since MasterClass is well planned and neatly curated, it might take a bit longer to complete the entire course. I am pretty sure it does not feel longer as the course gets interesting.
There are 26 lessons included in the MasterClass which can take up to a watch time of 6 hours.
Apart from taking the course, MasterClass also offers useful resources to their students to make the learning process easier by providing PDF workbooks and documents. This way, students get to make the most out of the entire course by taking up tasks and assignments as homework.
As a bonus, you also get in touch with aspiring young filmmakers while on the course as MasterClass has created an exclusive student-only community within the course boundary itself.
Moreover, the transparency about being a filmmaker is what you need to note in this MasterClass because we might be wondering what it’s like to be a filmmaker and Herzog explains exactly that.
Werner Herzog: Who is he?
Werner Herzog is an insanely talented filmmaker from Germany who has an obscure touch in his films. The uniqueness in the stories of his films, the visual storyboards, and the outstanding screenplay are some testimonials to his famous work.
Known for his excellence in cinema, he has been nominated for prestigious awards like Golden Globes Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, British Academy Film Awards, and many more.
In 1982, he was honored and won the Cannes Best Director Award. Later in 2006, he was also awarded the Directors Guild of America Award for his impressive work, Grizzly Man.
His style of work is interesting as well as inspiring to watch. Some of his famous hits include The Mandalorian, Fitzcarraldo, and Aguirre, the Wrath of God.
Who might be needing this course?
Learning something from the film industry is something else and can be recommended to anyone who wants to work in the cinema fraternity but in the MasterClass handled by Werner Herzog, the instructor sticks to a particular niche that might not be suitable for all film enthusiasts.
Though it might not a good fit for professional filmmakers, the course can help out beginners and intermediaries in a lot of helpful ways because Werner wraps up the MasterClass from no resource to a decent amount of investment placed over the film.
If you are someone who is trying to understand the concept of filmmaking which means the process that is not constrained only to filmmaking but managing budget, producing work, and all legal rights attached in the putting out the film to the world.
Since the course covers topics like casting, introducing characters, fundamentals of cinema and developing filmmaking as a career, it is an absolute catch for aspiring movie directors.
What are the scripts (lessons) like in Werner Herzog’s MasterClass?
Taking up each lesson with different learnings can be confusing at times. In the MasterClass by Werner Herzog, the lessons were broadly classified in a way there is no instant jump from the basics to advanced classes.
I was so relieved to know this because usually instructors skim through the course for namesake but Werner Herzog did not do such a thing in this MasterClass.
In order to deliver an in-depth explanation about the course, it might take a full moon so I have decided to highlight the best takeaways and also brief out the entire MasterClass quickly.
Without further ado, can we begin?
1. Introduction to storytelling
At the beginning of the course, Werner Herzog introduces himself and initiates the MasterClass by asking a question of how can one withstand in the film industry and drops insights on how he made it to where he is today.
“The world reveals itself to one who travels on foot.”
He later says that there are some basics that can be learned by one’s self with no guidance but that requires full dedication, an insane drive of passion, and a strong motivation to explore new things.
From watching movies as an audience to making movies in sets by himself, he unveils all the unspoken details that go into the creation of a masterpiece. You don’t want to miss this, it was incredible.
You also get to see informative examples every now and then throughout the course.
2. Scriptwriting like Werner Herzog
Werner shares his knowledge on scriptwriting and how to properly write while picturizing the film in mind. This gives an idea of how the dialogues will be delivered in the film, he adds.
“Even a defeat is better than nothing at all.”
He also suggests taking inspiration from different things like poetry as it adds volume to the subject of the dialogue and gives it more meaning.
At times, the scripts may have to be rewritten at sets so Herzog suggests being versatile about instant changes. This way, there is no breakage of the workflow. Great tip, right?
3. Films and finances
No matter how big of a masterpiece you think you can create, you need strong financial support to get going with the film.
“Money doesn’t make films. You just do it and take the initiative.”
For that, Werner advises about negotiation, dealing with attorneys, raising money, and many more. If I had to start with filmmaking, I definitely would not have known this until now.
Also, he claims that you can reduce the cost of the film in various ways by avoiding unnecessary budgeting. For example, budgeting on props and installing special effects into the movie.
4. Communication, camera, and cinematography
Werner tells how important it is to know how to communicate with a cinematographer on filming a movie because a slight change in communication can impact the entire film.
He suggests ideas and strategies use. Luckily, I took this MasterClass. If not, I might have been clueless about it. He later talks about shooting scenes and how to save time while filming.
Handling the camera with the support of your body, creating artificial visual boards, and accurately choosing scenes are some of the key takeaways from the lesson.
5. Casting and creating characters
In this section, he says that it is essential to keep the actors engaged with the film’s excitement in order to produce the best output from their end.
He is not wrong though because the actor’s attitude might be reflected in the film.
“The only thing that counts is what you see on the screen.”
To avoid this, one has to make sure they are properly guided and found with the talent of producing remarkable acting.
6. Playing with post-production
He says that he would watch the entire footage, shots, and samples, only then steps foot into the world of editing because he believes there might be few scenes that could be missed in the process.
While editing, you have to view the footage from the audience’s perspective in order to get a different idea of how the film can be perceived from their end.
He suggests having this in mind which is an excellent way of playing with post-production.
7. A Filmmaker lifestyle
In the end, he wraps up the course by sharing his experiences in the field, the mistakes he had made, the achievements that helped him stay motivated to hustle harder, and many more insights.
This part consisted of full motivation because I got to see what all it took to attain the level of fame, respect, and courage that Werner Herzog has today.
He recommends his students make use of all the opportunities that come along the way because you might not know what will end up you somewhere succeeding. He spoke directly to me in this.
What did Werner Herzog teach me?
Cinema being a wide field of spectrum involving a variety of things that go behind the end result of a film producing, editing, screenplay, CGI, budget, and many more aspects in the art of filmmaking, I was taken aback to learn bits and pieces of every topic. I was legit surprised to have learned all this.
I was able to grasp the ideology of making a film and how the interpretation of a story can be filmed.
While talking about filmmaking, we often tend to forget about the importance of communication between a filmmaker and a cinematographer.
Having said that, Herzog narrows it down and explains how to communicate and make the cinematographer understand the vision that you are looking for in a film.
Overall, he managed to break the iceberg of production in cinema and detailed out every aspect.
The budget of Werner Herzog’s MasterClass:
Well, what do you think might be the price of a course that offers lessons from the basics of filmmaking to production to budgeting to casting? I am pretty sure that you have confused thoughts.
I had as well until I checked the pricing plan of the MasterClass by Werner Herzog but guess what?
It is priced at $180/- (billed as $15/- per month) which also includes 80+ other MasterClasses that are available on the same platform. It is a win-win situation which was really helpful.
I was able to attend multiple courses while taking Werner Herzog’s MasterClass itself, thanks to MasterClass for coming up with such a strategic price tag.
You get an option of a 30-day refund policy which you can consider if you change your mind later.
Pros & Cons of Werner Herzog’s MasterClass:
Here are some of the reasons why you might have to take the course by Werner Herzog followed by some downsides to why you may have to reconsider it:
- Insightful learning for film production.
- Understandable teaching patterns.
- An opportunity to learn from Werner Herzog.
- Focuses on documentary-making rather than filmmaking.
- Constrained to a particular niche.
- Not suitable for film students.
What could be improved in Werner Herzog’s MasterClass?
Being bias can be subjective because not everyone learns or teaches the same which means few techniques and advice given by Werner Herzog may feel disappointing to some students.
Lessons could have been improvised and maintained in the same tone since the beginning because after a couple of lessons the subject started to drift apart in different directions leading to confusion.
The MasterClass focussed only on the beginner’s level and is not much beneficial to film students who are trying to learn something outside their film school. The course could have considered this.
Alternatives to Werner Herzog’s MasterClass:
If you are not satisfied with the teachings of Werner Herzog and want to switch up courses with the same subject, there are a lot of recommendations from MasterClass itself which are also taught by incredible filmmakers in the film fraternity today.
They are as follows:
- Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking
- Jodie Foster Teaches Filmmaking
- Ken Burns Teaches Documentary Filmmaking
- Mira Nair Teaches Independent Filmmaking
Do you want to hear something rewarding?
You don’t have to spend another 100 bucks on taking these courses because these MasterClasses come in the same subscription using the All-Access Pass. Get the All-Access Pass now.
The above-listed courses can be viewed in MasterClass*
What makes the MasterClass by Werner Herzog unique?
In the MasterClass, there are quite some points that make it obvious that Werner’s course is different. By his teaching, storytelling via movies, and, how to take inspiration from poetry.
He also suggests hacks to smoothen the process of filmmaking which is one of the main reasons to watch out. Though we know that it is such a tedious process to complete a film from scratch, small tips and techniques from experienced professionals in the field can help in saving time throughout.
Likewise, Herzog treats and teaches his students his method of filmmaking and how to manage it all.
Final Verdict on learning from Werner Herzog:
It was indeed an interesting journey to have taken this course. I was able to learn the wide spectrum of filmmaking under one roof, not completely but now I have an idea of how things work in movies.
Though I may not agree with the fact that this course is for all filmmakers because you only get to see one direction of filmmaking. Like, I thought it might cover all niches and aspects but it did not.
Apart from that, if you are a film aspirant or a Werner Herzog fanatic, I am sure you’ll have a good time taking up this MasterClass by Werner Herzog.
Frequently Asked Questions
How good is Werner Herzog’s MasterClass?
The MasterClass handled by Werner Herzog is well-structured with creative examples and recommended to film enthusiasts.
Is it worth taking Werner Herzog’s MasterClass?
An opportunity to learn from one of the finest filmmakers, learning the basics of film production and a brief understanding of all the aspects involved, is worth the money.
Can you get the MasterClass by Werner Herzog for a cheaper price?
There is only one fixed subscription plan for $180/- per year which is beneficial because you also get to take other courses with the same pass.
How different is Werner Herzog’s MasterClass from other courses?
Werner Herzog wraps up the making of film into various components from taking inspiration to planning the production to managing the budget to casting the characters to edit.