Werner Herzog is teaching people how to make films in his way.
He has survived the Peruvian rainforest, braved the wilds of the Thai jungle and shot in the heart of Antarctica. Now Werner Herzog is to enter the classroom, offering students the chance to benefit from his years of experience making movies in extreme locations and under inauspicious circumstances. The Werner Herzog school of guerrilla film-making is open for business, offering a weekend course with the veteran German director of Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Rescue Dawn, Fitzcarraldo and Cobra Verde for only $1,450 (£882).
For that outlay, students of the Rogue Film School will experience “the exhilaration of being shot at unsuccessfully”, while learning skills which include “the neutralisation of bureaucracy”. The inaugural course will take place in January in Los Angeles, but Herzog has cautioned timid types to give it a wide berth.
“The Rogue Film School is not for the faint-hearted,” said the film-maker. “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 favouring their projects.
“In short: it is for those who have a sense for poetry. For those who are pilgrims. 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.
“Censorship will be enforced,” added Herzog, declaring: “There will be no talk of shamans, of yoga classes, nutritional values, herbal teas, discovering your Boundaries and Inner Growth.” Students should not bring their laptops, he said, likewise mobile phones or pagers.
Recommended reading before the course begins includes Virgil’s Georgics, Ernest Hemingway’s The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber and The Poetic Edda, translated by Lee M Hollander (in particular The Prophecy of the Seeress).
As well as benefiting from Herzog’s guidance, students will walk away with a special certificate and a signed copy of Conquest of the Useless, the director’s memoir about his troubled shoot on 1982’s Fitzcarraldo, the epic tale of a businessman who pulls a steamship over a hill in order to access a tract of jungle rich with valuable rubber trees.
Candidates need not fear for their safety, however, for Herzog has a reputation for being a professional to the end. For example, during the Fitzcarraldo shoot, a Peruvian tribal chief offered to murder the film’s star, Klaus Kinski, with whom Herzog was at daggers drawn. Herzog politely declined, explaining that he had not yet finished shooting Kinski’s scenes.
Sign me up, seriously. Maybe Sallie Mae will loan me the money. I’ll tell them I need to learn how to be badass enough to call a bullet wound insignificant.