Hollywood legend Jodie Foster is ready to share many valuable insights she’s learned over the course of 50 years in the entertainment industry with students via an online Masterclass. From the point of view of an actor-director, the two-time Academy Award-winning actress hopes to guide aspiring filmmakers through the ambitious process of making a movie. Taking it one step at a time, Foster reveals her unique and personal approach.

“When you act and direct at the same time, it’s a balancing act,” the 56-year-old actress says. “Actors tend to focus on the moment, but directors have to do more than that. The director is the leader.”

Students can learn at their own pace on their mobile device or desktop computer. The online class features 18 lessons along with a downloadable workbook and, according to the website, “access to exclusive supplemental materials from Jodie’s archive.” Students are invited to upload their own videos to receive feedback from the class. And a select number of students will receive a critique from Jodie herself.

Foster speaks about the anxiety directors often experience because they are constantly questioning aspects of the film from beginning to end. A director might realize the script needs to change halfway through the shoot, or some unexpected weather might have the potential to throw a monkey wrench into the production.

To pull through, Foster emphasizes the importance of relying on the knowledge and expertise of others on set. “You’re never going to know every single thing that your crew member knows. But what you do have to have is a unifying language of vision,” she says.

Lessons include how to map out a shot list, storyboarding, and effective ways to collaborate with screenwriters. Her good friend, Scott Frank, who wrote her directorial debut Little Man Tate sits down with her to demonstrate ways to examine character, plot structure, tension in scenes, and adding a sense of realism throughout a script.

Foster also teaches students the essentials of prepping, scheduling, and casting. With acclaimed performances in films like The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs, Foster knows exactly what style of directors bring out an actor’s best work. So, in particular, she discusses ways in which directors can collaborate with actors in the quest of inspiring “a powerful and honest performance.” In addition, Foster’s lessons include tips on how to shoot the film, and she shares insights about camera coverage.

When it comes to post-production, Foster discusses how she reviews the dailies as well as how she chooses one performance over another in the editing room. Demonstrating with raw footage from her thriller film Money Monster, she walks students through the process of assembling a scene.

In addition to Little Man Tate and Money Monster, Foster directed the 1995 family comedy-drama Home for the Holidays starring Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr., the 2011 comedy-drama The Beaver starring Mel Gibson and herself, as well as episodes of the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, and Black Mirror.

Most of all, through her class, Foster hopes to inspire students to find their personal story and help them tell it with authenticity. She shares personal experiences with failure as she seeks to humanize the process. Interested aspiring filmmakers can learn more about the class at MasterClass.com

“The truth is that everything that you have to know is inside of you. Every decision-making process is instinctual, can come from within. And as long as you have a pen and paper to write it down, you’re in good shape,” Foster says.

 

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