What to Expect From Werner Herzog’s Film School? (Along With Required Reading & Watching)
UPDATE 12/04/2014: Dates for Herzog’s fifth seminar have been shared. The three days seminar will be in LA from August 22 to August 25. There is a $25 non-refundable fee to apply and, if accepted, the seminar is $1,500. Apply here or read more here.
Werner Herzog, the Bavarian filmmaker who completed 57 films, set up a Film School named Rogue Film School, which is about as far as you could imagine from a traditional film school. The Rogue Film School has offered two seminars in 2012 so far, one in Los Angeles and one in New Jersey, and Herzog’s film school is not about learning how to make a film, but rather how to live a full life in order to have a story to tell:
“The Rogue Film School is not for the faint-hearted; it is for those who have travelled on foot, who have worked as a bouncer in a sex club or as wardens in a lunatic asylum, for those who are willing to learn about lockpicking or forging shooting permits in countries not favoring their projects. In short: for those who have a sense for poetry. For those who can tell a story to four year old children and hold their attention. For those who have a fire burning within. For those who have a dream.”
I had never heard of Rogue Film School until Casey Neistat’s podcast and decided, intrigued, to check it out. And here is what to expect from Rogue Film School, along with required reading (#7) and watching (#8):
The Rogue Film School will not teach anything technical related to film-making. For this purpose, please enroll at your local film school.
The Rogue Film School is about a way of life. It is about a climate, the excitement that makes film possible. It will be about poetry, films, music, images, literature.
The focus of the seminars will be a dialogue with Werner Herzog, in which the participants will have their voice with their projects, their questions, their aspirations.
Excerpts of films will be discussed, which could include your submitted films; they may be shown and discussed as well. Depending on the materials, the attention will revolve around essential questions: how does music function in film? How do you narrate a story? (This will certainly depart from the brainless teachings of three-act-screenplays). How do you sensitize an audience? How is space created and understood by an audience? How do you produce and edit a film? How do you create illumination and an ecstasy of truth?
Related, but more practical subjects, will be the art of lockpicking. 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. Guerrilla tactics. Self reliance.
Censorship will be enforced. There will be no talk of shamans, of yoga classes, nutritional values, herbal teas, discovering your Boundaries, and Inner Growth.
Related, but more reflective, will be a reading list. Required reading: Virgil’s “Georgics”, Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”, and Baker’s “The Peregrine” (New York Review Books Edition published by HarperCollins). Suggested reading: The Warren Commission Report, “The Poetic Edda”, translated by Lee M. Hollander (in particular The Prophecy of the Seeress), Bernal Diaz del Castillo “True History of the Conquest of New Spain”.
Required film viewing list: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948, dir. John Huston), Viva Zapata (1952, dir. Elia Kazan), The Battle of Algiers (1966, dir. Gillo Pontecorvo), the Apu trilogy (1955-1959, dir. Satyajit Ray), and, if available, “Where is the Friend’s Home?” (1987, dir. Abbas Kiarostami).
Follow your vision. Form secretive Rogue Cells everywhere. At the same time, be not afraid of solitude.