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Watch: Werner Herzog Rips Three Act Structure Screenwriting, Calls It ‘Brainless’

In an exclusive video from his new MasterClass, Herzog takes aim at traditional film school teachings.

Werner Herzog teaches a MasterClass

Werner Herzog teaches a MasterClass

courtesy of MasterClass

No one would ever assume Werner Herzog would teach convention, but in his new MasterClass, the filmmaker takes dead aim at the way traditional film school teaches three act structure storytelling.

“It’s really brainless to structure yourself in it,” says Herzog in an exclusive IndieWire video.

READ MORE: Kevin Spacey Gives a MasterClass on Acting in This Exclusive Video

Using his 1972 classic “Aquirre, Wrath of God” as an example, the great director rails against the concept that screenplays need to be structured around a character arc in which the protagonist becomes someone different by the end of the film. He even adds that some of his films have five or six acts.

For Herzog, being “predictable” is the height of mediocrity, so it’ll be interesting to see what other film school staples he rips in his new MasterClass, which becomes available today for $90. The heart of the class is six hours of video that are split into 26 lessons which, based on their titles — “Writing a Script,” “Working with Actors on Set,” “Camera: Shooting Strategy,” “Editing,” and “Sound” —  follow the pattern of a normal production class.

According the class notes, highlights include:

  • Financing First Films: You don’t need millions to make a movie. With $10,000 and an extraordinary idea you can start the journey toward bringing your project to the screen.
  • Working with Actors: Through casting, wardrobe, and behavioral ticks, Werner shares both the subtle and bold techniques for developing characters with your actors.
  • Q&A:Werner answers select student-submitted questions that the whole class can access

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