At age 72, Werner Herzog remains as prolific and as hard-working as he was when he was just starting out. The legendary filmmaker has covered so much ground, both as a documentarian and a director of fiction films, and he has built a reputation for himself for the way each of his films carry his distinctive voice. So when a guy like Werner Herzog holds a masterclass where he shares his knowledge of filmmaking and storytelling, it’s most definitely a class worth paying attention to.
Herzog held a 90-minute masterclass at the Locarno International Film Festival back in 2013 and the full video has started making the rounds, and it’s a must-watch for fans of Herzog as well as aspiring filmmakers. In Herzog’s masterclass, the director primarily takes questions from the audience, and this Q&A session gives us a fascinating glimpse inside the filmmaker’s craft, with the conversation leaning heavily towards his documentary work.
The filmmaker recounts his experiences filming in Antarctica, his troubled experiences on the set of “Fitzcarraldo,” he explains his thought process when it comes to casting, and his methods for how he treats his documentary subjects when they’re in front of the camera. On multiple occasions, Herzog expresses his distaste for cinema verite. As he explains it, “We can’t be flies on the wall, but hornets that sting… You must direct what you do, you’re not a security camera at a bank.”
He has embraced the ever-evolving technology that’s used for filmmaking and emphasizes that anyone should be able to make any kind of film they want today. He does not accept excuses or complaints. Furthermore, he expresses his distaste for film schools and feels that you can learn more if you travel by foot for four months.
The masterclass features several light moments too, including the experience he had with playing a villain in 2012’s “Jack Reacher.” He also had no idea “The Simpsons” could move or talk when he was approached to voice a character, explaining that he rarely watches television and had previously only seen the main characters in print.
Needless to say, it’s a very enlightening and fascinating 90 minutes, and is definitely worth checking out. If nothing else, it’s worth watching the video just to hear the way Herzog pronounces “YouTube.” [Reddit]