Do you want to improve your screenwriting skills? This Werner Herzog Masterclass review explains what you’ll learn and if it’s worth it.
I spent most of my childhood watching movies with family and friends. It was a fun and easy way to kill time. Some of my favorite movies were Lion King, Tarzan, and Toy Story.
I was always fascinated by filmmaking and what goes into making a movie that the world loves. It takes hundreds of professionals, thousands of hours, and millions of dollars.
When I came across Werner Herzog's Masterclass on screenwriting, I had to give it a shot. It was interesting since I got an opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn from one of the best filmmakers who ever lived.
His video lessons are engaging, fun, and informative, and if you're interested in how your favorite movies were made, then listen up.
Who Is Werner Herzog And Why Should You Take His Masterclass?
Werner Herzog is a German screenwriter, actor, and director. He was named one of the world's most influential people in 2009 by Time Magazine. World-famous filmmaker Francois Truffaut said, “Werner Herzog is the most important film director alive.”
Born in Nazi Germany on September 5, 1942, Herzog grew up with no running water, telephone, or flushing toilets. In an interview, he said, “We had no toys, only tools.”
He only found out that movies existed at age 11. After discovering the world of cinematography, he never got the opportunity to go to film school. He taught himself everything he could about screenwriting and filmmaking, and after working the night shift as a welder for years, financed his first films.
Some of his work include:
- My Best Fiend
- Grizzly Man
- Lessons of Darkness
He had also received awards like:
- Cannes Best Director Award
- Leopard of Honour
- German Film Award
You might've seen him appear in movies like Jack Reacher and Star Wars: The Mandalorian. He also voices characters in American Dad and Rick & Morty.
There's no other platform on the internet where you can get personal coaching from a filmmaking veteran like Herzog. He knows everything there's to know about screenwriting, acting, directing, and filmmaking.
Who Is This Masterclass For?
Werner Herzog's Masterclass is a perfect option for those who're into filmmaking and want to know what goes on behind the scenes. Who knows, maybe after taking this Masterclass, you'll find yourself wanting to become a professional screenwriter like Werner Herzog, Quentin Tarantino, or Aaron Sorkin.
Fans Of Werner Herzog
If you’re a fan of Werner Herzog and have been following his work for some time, then you must take this Masterclass. It’s like getting personal coaching from your hero. You’ll have insight on his creative process and how he creates these masterpieces.
After taking this Masterclass, you’ll have the tools and knowledge needed to emulate his creative process and write more interesting screenplays.
This Masterclass doesn't only teach you about screenwriting, but directing and filmmaking. If you're an aspiring filmmaker, these online classes are a helpful starting point for getting your foot in the door.
It teaches you how to become a good filmmaker while giving tips on financing your films and breaking into the industry.
Screenwriters And Cinematographers
Maybe you're already part of the industry, and you want to learn extra tips and techniques to help you become a better screenwriter. This Masterclass has you covered. It also shows how to overcome common roadblocks and get bigger movie budgets.
Entrepreneurs Looking To Get Into Film
If you own a freelance writing business but are looking for something different, then screenwriting is a welcomed change. Most of the skills you develop in freelance writing, like structuring posts, hooking your readers, and landing clients, will help you on your journey to becoming a screenwriter.
This online course shows you how to transition and use those skills that you already have to develop epic storylines.
What Is Werner Herzog's Masterclass Like?
This Masterclass is a bit longer than the other writing classes. It consists of 26 videos that are almost 6 hours long. These videos are:
- Introduction: 03:54
- Teach yourself storytelling: Watch films: 05:36
- Teach yourself storytelling: Read: 17:03
- Writing a script: 09:58
- Financing first films: 12:29
- Negotiation skills: 08:06
- Locations: 18:15
- Leading the platoon: 18:10
- Set rules: 15:46
- Camera: Shooting strategy: 14:46
- Camera: Cinematography: 17:41
- Camera: Techniques: 14:32
- Working with actors: Creating the character: 19:49
- Working with actors: Onset: 19:45
- Sound: 10:08
- Music: 12:35
- Editing: 19:16
- Invaded by images: Part 1: 8:34
- Invaded by images: Part 2: 10:10
- Documentary: Making the conversation:14:36
- Documentary: Eliciting difficult stories: 14:29
- Documentary: Dealing with human beings: 11:31
- Documentary: Truth in nonfiction: 15:22
- Career Strategy: 16:53
- Life as a filmmaker: 17:06
- Postscript: 02:01
It also contains a 53-page PDF workbook that covers everything in the video lessons. He gives exercises and dives deeper into certain topics that he doesn't cover in the video lessons.
How Much Does His Masterclass Cost?
To get access to this filmmaking Masterclass, you'll need to buy an all-access pass for $180. With this all-access pass, you can watch other video lessons from world-renowned writers like:
- James Patterson's Masterclass
- Neil Gaiman's Masterclass
- Malcolm Gladwell's Masterclass
- Joyce Carol Oates Masterclass
Nowhere else on the internet will you access video lessons created by these world-renowned authors, novelists, and short story writers. It gets even better. With this all-access pass, you can learn other helpful skills like cooking, gymnastics, and acting.
What I've Learnt From This Masterclass
When you take an online class from someone who's been a world-renowned filmmaker for almost 60 years, you're bound to learn a lot about the movie industry, filmmaking, and screenwriting.
Be Skeptical About Film School
Herzog grew up in Nazi Germany, so he never had the opportunity or finances to go to a prestigious film school. But he believes that not going to film school is one of his greatest assets.
According to Herzog, you spend way too much time and money in film school, and everything you need to know can be found online. He says that you only need to learn screenwriting online for two to three weeks before knowing everything that a film school can teach you.
To make the most out of your learning, read many books, blog posts, and watch video lessons from famous filmmakers. After a few weeks, leave your comfort zone and start writing your first short film.
This is where you'll learn the most valuable lessons.
For example, after reading several books about filmmaking and screenwriting, Herzog saved up some money from his welding job and financed a short film. Here he learned more than any school could teach him, and the short movie gave him exposure.
Read A Lot Of Stories And Watch Movies
Reading a lot of stories and watching movies is essential to becoming a great screenwriter. Most kids in film schools don't read enough, which causes them to become mediocre screenwriters.
Follow every story you can get your hands on. Don't just watch or read it; understand it. Follow the plot, take notes, understand what creates suspense, and emulate that.
He recommends you start reading Icelandic poetry and move onto books like The Peregrine by J.A Baker. Silent movies like Nosferatu also give you a deep understanding of storylines.
This is your time to outwork, outlearn, and outlast everyone who's going to film schools.
Writing A Script Shouldn't Take Long
Herzog suggests writing a script as fast as possible. This is a technique I use in my writing, and it helped me create more engaging content. When you write with urgency, you don't experience the dreaded writer's block, and it’s easier to get into flow state.
Flow state is like a cheat code for writing compelling content and stories, since you're, aren't thinking about writing. Ideas just flow from your brain onto a sheet of paper.
He says that writing a script shouldn't take more than 5 days.
When writing a script, find what works for you. For example, Herzog loves playing Beethoven when writing movies, and this gets his creative juices following. This might not work for you but experiment with different strategies.
Maybe you're more creative after a workout and shower. Or perhaps your creative juices flow more in the morning or evening. Find your own way to write.
The Essential Rules For Filmmakers
There are a handful of golden rules that Herzog follows while on set. One, he never has a chair to sit on. He's always standing working with his actors and assistants. What this does is, the producers and actors will be embarrassed to sit since the director isn't. This creates an environment of hard work.
By leading by example, he sets the bar high, and everyone in the studio needs to keep up.
Another rule he follows is to keep the crew as small as possible. This is difficult when making bigger movies with larger budgets, but it still applies.
In Hollywood, when a director faces a problem, it’s common for them to hire 10 or 20 people to fix it. But that just creates more problems.
If you have a small crew, everything is simple, and everyone knows what they must do. You get more flexibility as a filmmaker, and tasks get finished faster. For example, when making the movie Aguirre The Wrath of God, he only hired 8 to 10 people.
Keep Phones At A Distance
Phones are by far the biggest distraction.
When he walks onto a Hollywood set with over 250 people, at least 200 of them are on their phones, texting or making phone calls throughout the day. Constantly being distracted by phones causes people to be unproductive, and it impacts the quality of the movie.
When he first comes on set, he tells his crew to not use their phones. This creates a distraction-free environment, and people make better films.
This doesn't only apply to making movies. If you struggle to write or work for long periods, your phone might be the main problem. Put it in another room or lock it away for a set time. This allows you to get work done without distractions or temptations.
Get Feedback From The Right People
When he's finished creating a movie, he'll gather 3 to 4 close friends and family members and get their genuine opinion about it. He also looks at their facial expressions when watching the movie. This gives him an understanding of where people get bored so he can improve.
He might cut out parts that don't move the story forward and see how that works.
You can also use this technique when writing a script or blog post. Ask a friend or family member to read your piece and provide feedback on improving the flow and engagement of your work.
Is It Worth It?
This is one of the most detailed courses on the internet since it covers everything you need to know about screenwriting. It teaches you how to break into the industry, finance your first few films, and write better movies without going to film school. The instructor is also one of the most accomplished screenwriters and directors on the planet.
However, Herzog isn’t part of the Masterclass Hub, so you can’t ask him any questions. It’s more of a community facilitated by Masterclass. But if you’re stuck, you can ask other students for help.
It's worth it since you'll learn a lot about what makes a great movie, how to create one, and the mistakes he made on his filmmaking journey. But if you aren’t into filmmaking, then this isn’t for you.
Werner Herzog Teaches Filmmaking
The Bottom Line
Filmmaking is a fun industry since you meet new people and learn skills like how to capture people's attention and create engaging plots. If you're into filmmaking and looking for a helpful starting point, Werner Herzog's Masterclass is for you.
However, if you're into writing short stories, consider taking Joyce Carol Oates' Masterclass. If you want to learn everything you'll need to know about storytelling, opt for James Patterson's Masterclass. These video lessons can also help you on your screenwriting journey.
- The great starting point for beginner screenwriters.
- Herzog teaches negotiation skills.
- This information will stay with you forever.
- It doesn't emphasize storytelling and creating characters.
- This isn’t for you if you don’t like filmmaking.
- It’s longer than most lessons on Masterclass.