The Nina Foch Online Course for Filmmakers and Actors

An entire semester of Nina Foch's course at USC School of Cinematic Arts filmed and tailored for directors and actors
6 reviews
TAUGHT BY
  • Nina Foch Actor and Instructor at USC School of Cinematic Arts

     Nina Foch was born in the Netherlands of a notable Dutch family and starred in Broadway plays, over a thousand television programs, and more than fifty Hollywood films, including “An American In Paris”, “Spartacus”, and “The Ten Commandments”. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in “Executive Suite”. Her television credits include “Tales of the City”, “War and Remembrance”, “Just Shoot Me” and an Emmy nominated performance in “Lou Grant”.
    She worked as assistant to the director for George Stevens’ “The Diary of Anne Frank” and has directed plays and television movies. The public knew her best as an actress, but her life was centered around teaching.

  •  Randal Kleiser's first feature Grease is the most successful movie musical ever made.  Other credits include The Blue Lagoon,The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, Summer Lovers, Flight of the Navigator, White Fang, North Shore, Getting It Right, Lovewrecked andIt's My Party.
           
    In 2007, his USC Thesis film Peege was selected by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Registry. Working in 70mm 3-D, he directed Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, which has been running  for over a decade at the Disney Parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, and Paris.

    With George Lucas, he recently released a 2 DVD set, "USC School of Cinematic Arts presents the Nina Foch Course for Filmmakers and Actors". In 2010 he was elected to the Science and Technology Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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The Nina Foch Online Course for Filmmakers and Actors

An entire semester of Nina Foch's course at USC School of Cinematic Arts filmed and tailored for directors and actors
6 reviews

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COURSE DESCRIPTION

Produced by George Lucas and Randal Kleiser, this series of lectures are excerpts from Nina Foch’s directing class conducted at the University of Southern California in 2002. The lectures, organized into sections, cover script analysis, casting, directing, and acting. Spend some time watching Nina, learn from her and implement her ideas into your own work. You’ll be amazed how far she can take you.


Who can benefit from Nina Foch’s course? Directors? Absolutely. Actors? Yes. But, it’s equally valuable for writers, editors, producers, and anyone with more than a passing interest in the art and craft of filmmaking. This material can be used for an entire course, as part of a course, or a rich reference source to immerse yourself in your craft.

    • None
    • Over 91 lectures and 4 hours of content!
    • Learn how to communicate with actors, analyze scripts, and manage successful castings
    • Filmmakers, Actors, Teachers, Students, Animators, Singers, Lecturers and anyone with a passion for the craft of cinema

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CURRICULUM

  • SECTION 1:
    Introduction
  • 1
    Introduction
    03:17
  • SECTION 2:
    Breaking Down The Script
  • 2
    Story, Moral, and Spine
    02:41
    How to break down the story into its simplest beats, discover the moral of the story, and find the thing in the story that everyone is trying to do.
  • 3
    Putting it into practice: "Casablanca"
    03:39
    The class breaks down the story using her technique that will work for any project. She explores the moral and the spine. Tracking the character arcs in Casablanca reveals major character changes.
  • 4
    Scene Breakdown
    06:19
    Nina breaks each line from the scene into intentions and actions.
  • 5
    "Casablanca" clip
    00:29
    See the film version of the scene that was analyzed in class.
  • 6
    Breaking Down The Script
    4 questions
  • SECTION 3:
    Casting
  • 7
    Analyzing the Headshot
    01:21
    What to look for in a headshot. What are the best questions to ask? On the back of the headshot is a summary of the actor’s qualifications. Learn what questions to ask to put them at ease.
  • 8
    Meeting the Actor
    01:36
    Learn what to look for when an actor enters the room. How to break bad habits. How to relax the actor. What is the proven subject to bring them out and get their guard down. What are the danger signs to look for that would make you not want to cast them.
  • 9
    Evaluating the Actor
    03:43
    What kind of directorial notes get the best results? How to use intentions in your directing of a reading. What to watch for when they follow your direction. What to do immediately after the actor leaves the room. How to analyze the pluses and minuses of each actor.
  • 10
    Casting Session I
    01:30
    During a reading of “Fargo” Nina suggests an unusual adjustment for the actor’s second read.
  • 11
    Casting Session II
    01:52
    During a reading from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf" Nina analyzes how to spot an actor who is not in touch with themselves.
  • 12
    Casting Session III
    01:42
    During a reading from "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" Nina explains the definition of a scene.
  • SECTION 4:
    Quick Tips: Casting
  • 13
    Have a Good Gatekeeper
    00:41
    What instructions to give the receptionist or secretary in the outer office to get the best results in casting sessions.
  • 14
    Setting up the Room
    01:25
    How to avoid common mistakes in the setup of the casting session.
  • 15
    Sloppy Actors
    00:46
    Clues to watch for on a resume.
  • 16
    Grungy Actors
    01:06
    Evaluating personal habits in regard to casting.
  • 17
    Don't Help
    00:43
    What not to say to actors and when to listen.
  • 18
    What Not to Say
    00:45
    The top tips to avoid.
  • 19
    Casting
    3 questions
  • SECTION 5:
    Class Exercises
  • 20
    Partnering Exercise: Hot Objects
    02:35
    Learn how the “Hot Object” exercise teaches the power of partnering first-hand. Nina shows how to guide the student as they connect with personal items that mean something to them.
  • 21
    Hot Objects: Examples
    07:07
    In the first example, Nina demonstrates how to push a student to connect and what not to do.
    In the second example, the exercise is a success as the student becomes emotional as he connects with his object.
  • 22
    Entrances & Exits: Airport Exercise
    08:41
    Entrances and Exits
    Learn how to create the circumstances and places the characters are coming from and where they are going.
    Airport Exercise
    Generalities can kill a performance. This exercise teaches how being specific can make an audience believe in the truth of the scene.
    Nina boiled down the essence of delivering a line into three specific words. When an actor follows these steps, in order, the line will be delivered more believably than they would if simply memorized and repeated.
  • 23
    Scene Adjustments: "Jerry Maguire"
    04:49
    Here, Nina shows student filmmakers what it is like to act and receive direction. This gives them perspective on the challenges of giving a performance.
  • SECTION 6:
    Video Scene Analysis
  • 24
    Introduction
    01:56
    Learn how to make sure that every part of the scene works with no cuts, no edits, with organic camera movements from start to finish. Nina worked in live television for years, and theatre extensively before that, which made her one of the craft’s leading experts in maintaining the seamless scene.
    In these scene analyses, watch Nina force her students to examine every frame, every detail, every moment, and every line of their scenes. Some of her words may seem harsh, or unfair. But, Nina always states that when you make a film, you have to live with these details for the rest of your life.
  • 25
    "Eat Drink Man Woman"
    07:28
    Nina teaches how to pace a scene and how to overlap blocking and dialogue.
  • 26
    "Boogie Nights"
    05:01
    Learn blocking and filling each moment. Simulating the effects of cocaine are discussed. Learn the concept “Actions Come from our Partner’s Needs”.
  • 27
    "Notting Hill"
    05:51
    The concept of cheating is outlined. How to deal with an actor’s bad habits. What is sequential linkage?
  • 28
    "The Graduate"
    04:17
    How do you fill each moment? How to use body language, how to discover intentions and best tips for blocking are discussed.
  • 29
    "Almost Famous"
    05:03
    How do you structure and deliver a joke? How do you fake? What is the best way to block?
  • 30
    "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"
    07:42
    Concepts discussed: Partnering, how to deal with uncomfortable actors, tips on staging , importance of playing one action at a time, finding the action, moving the furniture, and the concept of false exits.
  • 31
    "Sex and the City"
    09:51
    Sex is notoriously hard to direct. Nina points out tricks to making love scenes work. How to make the actors comfortable. How do you direct the way actors touch each other. How do you reveal character through intimacy? Choosing truth or beauty, how much nudity to show. Also discussed: Homosexuality and the class system in America.
  • SECTION 7:
    Directing Lessons
  • 32
    Two Truths Coming Together
    01:37
    What is a scene? There are many ways to answer this question: conflict, setting, character, and a host of other qualities. Nina Foch had a simple answer to this question.
  • 33
    What is "sexy"?
    01:48
    Over the years, Nina discovered the best action when actors need to be sexy. It’s an elegant description of a complicated acting choice.
  • 34
    Share Your Life
    02:15
    Techniques of connecting with your actors so they open up and trust you.
  • 35
    Correcting Bad Habits
    02:46
    What are the top bad habits and how do you deal with them?
    When do you bring up the problem? Things to watch out for.
  • 36
    Dialogue Handles
    01:35
    When are these helpful and when do they kill a scene? How do you find the intention of a handle? When do you delete a handle?
  • 37
    Close Your Eyes and Listen
    01:28
    How to use this technique to get closer to the truth of the scene.
  • 38
    Directing Narration
    04:15
    The trick to making narration work. How to break down the beats. Creating an entrance for the narrator. What is the action of the narrator?
  • 39
    Stick to the Script
    02:20
    What to do when an actor says they are uncomfortable with a line. When to use and when not to use improvisation.
  • 40
    Don't Rush the Table Read
    02:21
    How to get the most out of the first read with the cast. Finding
    the tone and meaning of the script.
  • 41
    Include the Writer
    01:30
    The best way to integrate the writer without giving up control.
    How do you get the most from the writer in rehearsal?
  • 42
    Let the Script Guide You
    01:18
    The best way to bring your own viewpoint to the script. How do you integrate the talents of the actors, cinematographer and other crew?
  • 43
    Learn the Actor's Craft
    01:15
    The biggest advantage for directors who try acting. Picking up the language of acting. How to think like an actor so you know how to communicate with them.
  • 44
    Be Prepared
    03:29
    What to watch out for when you start the shooting day. How to instill confidence from your actors and crew. How to be flexible and adaptable.
  • 45
    I Can't Hear You
    00:54
    What not to say when actors mumble. The trick to getting them to speak up in an organic manner.
  • 46
    Furniture Is Movable
    00:45
    How to conceive the right blocking for a scene.
  • SECTION 8:
    Quick Tips: Directing
  • 47
    Win This Fight
    03:41
    The fight every director faces on the first day and how to win it.
  • 48
    Actors Who Drink
    01:28
    How to handle them on set and off.
  • 49
    The Ten-minute Nap
    01:12
    The trick to instant relaxation.
  • 50
    When an Actor Forgets Lines
    01:45
    How to handle this scenario the right way.
  • 51
    Don't Yawn
    00:47
    The dangers of yawning.
  • 52
    Marking Props and Wardrobe
    00:45
    The best way to indicate these in your script.
  • 53
    Directing
    5 questions
  • SECTION 9:
    Acting Lessons
  • 54
    Don't Look Down
    02:10
    What causes this habit? How do you break an actor of the bad habit of looking down.
  • 55
    Drunk, Drugged, or Insane
    02:08
    How do you avoid cliches and make this kind of behavior believable?
  • 56
    Sources of Power
    02:27
    Raising your voice or clenching your fists if you’re angry are not sources of power. Nina explains where an actor’s power comes from for a scene and how to generate it.
  • 57
    Getting Turned On
    02:25
    How do you motivate yourself to get excited about a scene? How do you let loose and be wonderful?
  • 58
    Filling Entrances and Exits
    01:47
    What are the techniques to create believable characterizations so the audience knows where the actor has been and where he is going? How to create energy and propel the story forward.
  • 59
    Sequential Linkage
    02:02
    A scene is not just memorizing lines. Learn the fundamental principle behind sequential linkage. Where does the actor find the connections that make this work?
  • 60
    Building Logical Character Beats
    03:45
    Learn how to use the five senses to create specific connections that reveal character.
  • 61
    Tap Dance Therapy
    03:20
    Nina shows when to use this directoral technique and how to loosen up the actor so they can do the best work.
  • 62
    Know the Setups
    01:42
    What every actor should know about a shooting day’s breakdown.
  • 63
    Do Your Homework
    01:30
    How to prepare for the unexpected. How to create a situation where
    changes are easily adapted.
  • 64
    Make it Organic
    00:39
    How to make each moment motivated. How to work backwards
    to achieve believable beginnings.
  • 65
    Lizards and Tarragon
    01:18
    The trick of using animals and foods as a acting technique.
  • 66
    Going to a Zero
    02:31
    Nina explains this technique that allows an actor or singer to create an emotional moment no matter what the distractions.
  • 67
    Relaxation Techniques
    04:28
    Nina breaks down the best way to relieve tension and how to achieve a complete state of relaxation instantly.
  • SECTION 10:
    Quick Tips: Acting
  • 68
    Funny Feet
    00:22
    How the feet of an actor can add comedy to a scene.
  • 69
    Filling the Entrance
    00:44
    Nina demonstrates how to improve a student’s entrance to a scene.
  • 70
    Acting
    3 questions
  • SECTION 11:
    Showbiz Tales
  • 71
    "An American in Paris"
    01:31
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 72
    Billy Wilder
    01:56
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 73
    Laurence Olivier on Being Foolish
    00:42
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 74
    John Wayne Was Right
    00:52
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 75
    Cecil B. DeMille
    02:18
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 76
    William Holden and Lee J. Cobb
    00:50
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 77
    Cloris Leachman's Banana
    00:51
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 78
    There are no Small Parts
    01:09
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 79
    Lillian Gish and the Poorhouse
    00:43
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 80
    Coaching "The Diary of Anne Frank"
    02:10
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 81
    Giselda Weberser Piffle
    01:05
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 82
    Wherever I'm standing is the Center
    01:03
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • 83
    The Nina Foch Memorial Light
    02:09
    We won’t spoil these anecdotes with comments. They are best experienced first- hand.
  • SECTION 12:
    Life Lessons
  • 84
    Don't Be Late
    00:53
    Why you should never be late on the set.
  • 85
    Failure is Your Friend
    00:45
    How to use failure to help you move to the next level of accomplishment.
  • 86
    Demand Your Best
    01:02
    How to approach the work so that you challenge yourself at every turn.
  • 87
    Be Brave
    00:48
    What never works on the screen and how to avoid it.
  • SECTION 13:
    Nina Foch Critiques Herself in "Illegal"
  • 88
    Problems in Partnering
    00:48
    In these clips, Nina analyzes her own performance from the 1955 film “Illegal”. In her commentary, she explains how her performance was influenced by the technical limitations of the time, and she demonstrates how she grew as an actor in the intervening years.
  • 89
    Limitations of Cameras
    00:30

    In these clips, Nina analyzes her own performance from the 1955 film “Illegal”. In her commentary, she explains how her performance was influenced by the technical limitations of the time, and she demonstrates how she grew as an actor in the intervening years.

  • 90
    Downstage Eye and Indirect Partnering
    01:49

    In these clips, Nina analyzes her own performance from the 1955 film “Illegal”. In her commentary, she explains how her performance was influenced by the technical limitations of the time, and she demonstrates how she grew as an actor in the intervening years.

  • 91
    Empty Entrances
    00:14

    In these clips, Nina analyzes her own performance from the 1955 film “Illegal”. In her commentary, she explains how her performance was influenced by the technical limitations of the time, and she demonstrates how she grew as an actor in the intervening years.

  • SECTION 14:
    Closing Thoughts
  • 92
    Book Recommendations
    00:48
    The top three books every filmmaker and actor should read.
  • 93
    Closing Thoughts
    07:01
    Nina saved her most important words for the last day of class. She had high standards for all of her students, and pushed them to excel in every way. Watch, and you’ll start to understand what made her so unforgettable.
  • 94
    BASICS OF ACTING EXPLAINED
    13:09
    Filmed in 1993, Nina Foch gives an overview of all the main concepts that she taught.
    -How to Begin
    -Everything is in the Text
    -First Read
    -Tell the Story in Three Sentences
    -The Moral
    -Preparation for the Entrance
    -Preparation for the Exit
    -Character Arc
    -Actions
    -Partnering
    -Props
    -The Ideal Situation
    -Demand Joy
  • 95
    Tributes
    16:52
    Clips from the Tribute to Nina Foch by USC School of Cinematic Arts held April, 2009 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills featuring Barry Manilow, Julie Andrews, and former students.

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NUMBER OF RATINGS
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REVIEWS

  • David Whitford
    Experienced international Attorney who has some entertainment industry clients and may very occasionally appear in industrial films

    I thought this is an outstanding course. You can embrace Nina's industry learnings and life learnings with joy. This is not all there is but it is a great start. The rest can be what you choose to make it. Can any leading producer, actor or director stand on their feet at 82 plus years (after 65+ years working in the industry) and have the desire to deliver valuable knowledge like Nina? Of course there are some. They are few and far between. This is an accessible course for the joy of learning in the industry. It is a rare offering. David Whitford Las Vegas

  • David Speight
    Best Directing Course I've taken.

    As a degree holding USC Cinema alum (BA) I can say that I'm disappointed that I never had the opportunity to take Nina's course ... until now. The directing techniques taught here surpass the other classes I've taken. Any seriously aspiring director must take Nina's course.

  • William Neely
    wonderful course!

    Great job at putting this together. This is a great course for both actors and directors.

  • Stephan Afruz
    Great love it...

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