Werner Herzog’s Rogue Rules for Life: Part Two

Unveiled below is our second installment of Werner Herzog’s Rogue Rules for Life and/or Filmmaking: Your Audience & The Industry. These “rules” were recorded mostly verbatim and interpreted by me, while attending the filmmaking master’s Rogue Film School in Munich this past March. Check out Part One: Your Habits & The Craft, and standby for next week’s third feature, Your Soul.


Your Audience & The Industry

  1. The industry is against you.
  2. Festivals are self-serving entities.
  3. Distribution systems are all dysfunctional.
  4. You can no longer look to the media for meaningful discourse.
  5. “Creative Directors” in advertising = “vile yuppies”.
  6. The industry will destroy you if you aren’t vigilant.
  7. Become more intelligent and imaginative than the system: It is cowardly and stupid.
  8. You will waste your life waiting for people to give you money and/or permission.
  9. People will only consider giving you money once you’ve built your own momentum.
  10. Content is King. If your content is good enough no one cares about the minor imperfections.
  11. Do not allow playback or video village; only the camera assistant should look at a monitor. Everyone else should be focused on the live action.
  12. During production, it is the director’s job to keep the discourse meaningful, even during the lunch break.
  13. Film budgets are typically overinflated and fraudulent. The two primary things that make a film expensive are A) shoots days and B) size of crew. A big crew makes you clumsy, while a small crew makes you efficient.
  14. Actors are deformed by the Lee Strasberg method. It is the worst.
  15. Avoid the disease of over-explaining things to actors, encourage them to enjoy it. In “Bad Lieutenant.” Herzog told Nic Cage to simply enjoy being bad
  16. Big stars aren’t sacred cows, they need to be corrected sometimes too.
  17. If your actors aren’t ready, stall for them. Don’t allow anyone in their eyeline other than cameraman. (Christian Bale was completely justified in freaking out.)
  18. As the director, you should do the slate and be the last person between your actors and the camera.
  19. In documentary, observe a real events then become imaginative with how to present them in the film.
  20. Audiences are always anonymous, but you must develop a rapport with them.
  21. Within the audience there is always a parallel, separate story that only happens for them. This is how a film is capable of becoming transcendent. Leave room for it.
  22. When all is said and done, what matters is what you see on the screen and what you bring out for the audience – especially in the way you dismiss them from the theater.
  23. Virtual reality is stupid; Zuckerberg will fail.