Most of what we've heard about Werner Herzog (for a FREE 90-minute masterclass see below) is untrue. The remarkable number of false rumors and outright lies disseminated about the man and his films is truly astonishing. Yet Herzog's body of work is one of the most impressive and important in postwar European cinema.
At the ripe age 72, Werner Herzog remains as prolific and revolutionary as he was when he stole a camera and made his first movie at the age of 19.
Without a doubt, Herzog is a renegade, in the truest sense of the word. As a youngster, he taught himself how to make films. When no one would fund his movie-making habit, he started his own production company at age 17.
When he needed to get through the Peruvian jungle for filming Fitzcarraldo, he forged official-looking documents for safe passage (they worked).
For every film, he did a thousand things to get the shot. He once won a poetry contest four times by entering under five different names and directed major operas when he couldn't read music.
Over the course of his career, the legendary filmmaker has done it all, both as a documentarian and a director of fiction films. He has built a reputation for himself for his ability to have a distinctive voice in each of his films.
French filmmaker François Truffaut once called Herzog:
“The most important film director alive.”
American film critic Roger Ebert said that Herzog
“Werner has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons, or uninteresting.”
His international breakthrough came in 1973 with his film Aguirre, the Wrath of God, in which Klaus Kinski played a crazed Conquistador. For The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Herzog cast in the lead a man who had spent most of his life institutionalized (yes you read that correctly), and two years later he hypnotized his entire cast to make Heart of Glass.
He rushed to an explosive volcanic Caribbean island to film La Soufrière, paid homage to F. W. Murnau in a terrifying remake of Nosferatu, and in 1982 dragged a boat over a mountain in the Amazon jungle for Fitzcarraldo.
More recently, Herzog has made extraordinary “documentary” films, such as Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Grizzly Man and Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
Werner Herzog said:
“Film School is way too expensive. You can learn the essentials of filmmaking, on your own, in two weeks.”
And with that, he started a frenzy among indie filmmakers everywhere. So when a legend 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.
Dissatisfied with the way film schools are run, Herzog decided to team up with Masterclass.com and teach an Online Filmmaking Masterclass.
For the students, Herzog has said,
“I prefer people who have worked as bouncers in a sex club, or have been wardens in the lunatic asylum. You must live life in its very elementary forms. The Mexicans have a very nice word for it: pura vida. It doesn’t mean just purity of life, but the raw, stark-naked quality of life. And that’s what makes young people more into a filmmaker than academia.”
Herzog has over 70 films and 50 awards to his credit and now he is teaching documentary and feature filmmaking.
You’ll learn storytelling, cinematography, locations, self-financing, documentary interview techniques, and how to bring your ideas to life. By the end, you’ll make uncompromising films.
Class is now in session: Werner Herzog's Filmmaking MasterClass
A must read for any serious filmmaker is Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin. This edition of Herzog on Herzog presents a completely new set of interviews in which Werner Herzog discusses his career from its very beginnings to his most recent productions.
Famous for his frequent collaborations with mercurial actor Klaus Kinski – including the epics Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo, and the terrifying Nosferatu – and more recently with documentaries such as Grizzly Man, Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Into the Abyss, Herzog has built a body of work that is one of the most vital in post-war German cinema.
Below I've included over 9 hours of videos and interviews.