Brow Beat

Finally, You Can Take an Online Class With Professor Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog
Professor Herzog.


Self-proclaimed “soldier of cinema” Werner Herzog has long made himself a legend as a film-school instructor, but now it’s easier than ever to learn from the filmmaker. The online school MasterClass announced today that their newest teacher will be the mad German auteur behind such off-kilter classics as Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre: the Wrath of God, and Grizzly Man, and they released a short trailer for the class, which features Herzog offering such advice as “For example, I do not use a storyboard. I think it’s a instrument of the cowards.”

The course is open to everyone, which comes as a sharp contrast to Herzog’s previous admission requirements for his Rogue Film School:

The Rogue Film School is not for the faint-hearted. It is for those who have travelled on foot, who have worked as bouncers in sex clubs or as wardens in a lunatic asylum, for those who are willing to learn about lock picking or forging shooting permits in countries not favoring their projects …

The syllabus also seems to be a bit more tame. Typical lessons at Herzog’s in-person Rogue Film School included: “Traveling on foot. The exhilaration of being shot at unsuccessfully. The athletic side of filmmaking. The creation of your own shooting permits. The neutralization of bureaucracy. Guerilla tactics.” But here lessons discuss more standard film school fare such as “storytelling, cinematography, locations, self-financing, documentary interview techniques, and how to bring your ideas to life.”

Not that Herzog has abandoned all of his old teaching techniques. Consider the reading list. In the past, Herzog’s filmmaking classes have typically assigned books that don’t have anything to do with filmmaking, such as Virgil’s Georgics and the Warren Report. In this case, Herzog suggests that there’s only “one book that I would ask you to read if you want to make films”: The Peregrine, by J.A. Baker, a nonfiction book about peregrine falcons.

Anyone can pre-enroll now, and the course—which consists of 20 video lessons, totaling five hours—will be available starting this summer. It’s $90, and if you have any trouble paying that admissions fee, you might consider heeding Herzog’s previous advice on how to secure financing: “Rob a bank, for God’s sake!