Renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog is regarded as part of the New German Cinema and has been making films since he can remember. His early and remote Bavarian upbringing meant that he didn’t even know about cinema until he hit double digits.
This fascination with the medium grew from that point as he became interested in filmmaking embarking on a number of collaborative ventures. A cinema purist, it’s quite surprising that the filmmaker has no formal film school experience and picked up everything he knows through experiential learning. While he can appreciate the Hollywood film industry as a business, having worked with some of its stars such as Nicholas Cage and even starring in films like Jack Reacher, he’s more concerned with films of greater substance and meaning.
His Masterclass gives you special insights into his process and ideology when it comes to the art of film. Encouraging budding filmmakers to read voraciously, he believes that this helps fine tune one’s storytelling. Citing Icelandic poetry and referencing Viva Zapata! and many of his own works, he unpacks some of his fundamental beliefs.
The prolific filmmaker has traveled the world, exploring some of the most exotic and desolate film locations. Characterised by brave, bold and extraordinary feats, he’s become something of a film legend. This master class will serve as a an inspiration to filmmakers who are attracted to the artistry but intimidated by the business. Breaking down the filmmaking process, Herzog believes that even two or three people can make a feature film.
Regaling stories from his colourful past involving his fractious working relationship with Klaus Kinski and outlandish decisions that could have been circumvented by CGI, we get a picture of a dedicated madman. Taking risks, waiting for the perfect moment and forming an obsession with whatever is in the frame, his passion runs deep.
When it comes to screenwriting, Hertzog’s temperament is about whatever works best. He’s not overly precious about his words, realising the collaborative nature of filmmaking and encouraging his actors to immerse themselves in the process to the point that they are able to improvise. Using intuition it’s more about what feels right, dismissing the three act structure and taking a much more organic approach to storytelling.
The idea of following in Hertzog’s footsteps may make you feel like a rogue, but as someone who’s been in the industry for decades, he is living proof that can be done. Obviously having a legacy of films and developing a name for yourself makes it easier to secure funding but Hertzog’s believes that there shouldn’t be any shackles when it comes to going out there and making a film.
From making deals to working with actors and securing film location rights, it’s an entertaining, informative and valuable foray into the world of Werner Herzog. It’s also liberating for those who don’t feel they have the means or schooling, giving other filmmakers the impetus and special insights they need in order to start small and grow sporadically.