“I am Werner Herzog and this is my Masterclass.”

First of all, how cool is the domain Masterclass.com?! Solid gold right there, cornered the market.

I first heard about this masterclass on Twitter via an Indian film maker and signed up for it immediately.

I might not have watched a single film by Werner Herzog or by the film maker who recommended this masterclass but I am always keen on learning about disciplines similar to photography. Many would argue that film making is nothing like still photography and there certainly are differences but creative minds are what interest me more than the disciplines they made their mark in. That Werner Herzog is self-taught, tickles my fancy no end. Anything is possible.

This masterclass starts in about a month’s time from today, costs $90 and consists of five hours of “teaching”. It is Werner Herzog’s first ever online “course”. I enrolled more than 30 days ago and only now have I seen the introductory video. The email list also sent in a survey, at the end of which, if you complete the survey, you are shown an additional excerpt from the masterclass. I watched that last week and decided to blog about it.

It’s looking really good. There’s a discussion forum within the masterclass if you’ve enrolled and there are dozens of people from all kinds of disciplines already populating the forum animatedly.

“It’s like death staring at you when you look at the camera.”

I haven’t shot any short or feature films but I do make short videos on my mobile phone that I sometimes end up sharing on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter. Mostly I find myself thinking, “I have no fucking clue what I’m doing don’t I.” but I still end up sharing because I’m all for sharing unfinished work – one never knows what might come out of it or who might derive an idea out of it that they take forward and make their own.

“I do not use story-boards. I think it is an instrument of the cowards.” At the same time, he also doesn’t suggest shooting “450 hours” of footage. “…we are not garbage collectors…”. I sometimes feel like a garbage collector when I’m photographing stills – a digital SLR makes it so much easier to shoot shoot shoot and curate later. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that even if you are going to take advantage of the endless frame capture capability of a digital SLR, it helps to go in with a vision of what it is you’re trying to string together. Without a vision or goal, one is just a button pusher. Which is also where one’s skill of driving the creative process shines through.

“We are film makers. We are thieves.”

“The most truthful poetry is the most feigning.” Don’t be pedantic he says. Take the liberty of “making it your own.” We aren’t journalists, we are story-tellers.

“Documentary filmmakers in particular believe that facts constitute truth. They don’t.” I’ve got goosebumps.

“Does it illuminate?”

“Don’t be a fly on the wall. Only losers do that.” Ouch. At one point, this used to be my goal – to be a fly on the wall!

I can already see that my mind will be blown and how. And the fact that I can sign in and revisit the course any time I like in the future, makes it even more worth it.


( Masterclass.com has a bunch of other classes for script writing, song writing, music, even one that’s coming up – Photography by Annie Leibovitz! )

Masterclass : Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Depending on whether I follow the class as it happens or later, I will also try to blog about some of the key moments from the class that stand out to me. Some key takeaways maybe. Can’t wait!