Film & TV

Directing & Technology

Martin Scorsese

Lesson time 9:35 min

Martin connects the atmosphere in which he first started making movies to the current climate of filmmaking, teaching you how technological advances can both help and hinder your creative process as a director.

Martin Scorsese
Teaches Filmmaking
In 30 lessons, learn the art of film from the director of Goodfellas, The Departed, and Taxi Driver.
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I was able to get my hands on an 8 millimeter camera at one point. A friend of mine had it. And I shot a little silly film on the rooftops of the Lower East Side back, I think, in 1962 or so. But the very idea of making a film, a narrative film, even though I was aware of all the excitement around me, and maybe because of that too, the excitement of the American underground cinema, the American avant garde, the European avant garde. All these things were developing and were being available now that cinema could be anything. Cinema was anything you make it. All these things fed the desire to make a narrative film. I wanted to make a narrative film. And when I finally saw the film Shadows by John Cassavetes-- I think it was 1959 or 1960-- what it proved to us was that if you had a desire to tell a story as strongly as he had, and you were able to break away or not even be encumbered, should I say, and not be encumbered by a studio system, a way of the industry way of making a film with the very big crew, very, very heavy equipment, that was stopping, the creative impulse, in a way. So what happened was that there was very lightweight equipment. This enabled the filmmakers like Cassavetes, like Shirley Clarke, like many others, to be able to just open up the field and shoot almost as if you have today, for example, an iPhone-- would be a similar thing. And so these became truly, truly independent films. You realize there were no more excuses. If they were able to make a film this way in New York in 16 millimeter, the camera didn't have a tripod, and that's sort of thing, very, very little lighting, maybe none, there's no excuse now. You have to be able to do it. But the only thing you need-- and this is the most important thing-- is the spark, and the desire, and the passion to say something utilizing film. It turns out that where-- and it's difficult to try to encompass all of this. But there are many different aspects, different kinds of films that I was inspired by. Cassavetes' work within the scenes, with the people-- who happen to be actors, but with the people-- gave it a sense of authenticity and life that it felt like it was going to live off the screen. The screen couldn't inhabit it, it just couldn't hold it. But the Cassavetes thing was to explore that life and push it to the edge, and still try to keep-- if you're so inclined-- a particular narrative and storyline, and see if I can combine it all. It wasn't intentional that way, but that's what I felt. Because of the extraordinary technology around us at this point-- I mean people talk about the fact that anyone can make a film. It's true. Anyone can express themselves in visual images. But what's happening, one has to remember, is the technology is a tool. The same principles apply, which is your need to tell that story, your need to go through the process. And you happen to be us...

Study with Scorsese

Martin Scorsese drew his first storyboard when he was eight. Today he’s a legendary director whose films from Mean Streets to The Wolf of Wall Street have shaped movie history. In his first-ever online film class, the Oscar winner teaches his approach, from storytelling to editing to working with actors. He deconstructs films and breaks down his craft, changing how you make and watch movies.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Martin is an excellent teacher and covers the major features of directing. I found it compelling and inspiring.

Scorsese proves that he can guide us through the filmmaking process just as magnificently as he guides us through his unique narratives.

Teaches you to pay more attention to films while watching them, analyze them more closely, and how any, and all scenes can help and influence you in any way, shape or form.

When Martin talks about the insides of making a film, all the process behind, all his personal trajectory and path, it's better than any book.


Graeme R.

This is so profound! Smartphones capture video easily, but storytelling needs a story.

Teddy W.

In this Digital age, the filmmaking equipment is very convenient. Some people think everyone have a camera, if she or he has a smartphone, but that not means everyone can be a filmmaker. Like everyone can read but he can't be a writer. You can buy a pencil anytime, but you can't be a painter. So the point is why you use the camera tell a story, and how. Nowday, we can see what we shot on set immediately, cinematographer like lost the power to control the image.Technology and art they work together, technology help the director to tell the story, but remember don't be a slave of technology. Especially the cinematographer likes the new camera and new lighting equipment, but the important thing is does these new technology help you tell the story? Ask yourself. Computer editing is very help, I study editing by using computer. We try a lot possibility. But you must remember what you are doing. Is it help you to tell the story. The most important thing is the story, the thing you want to tell to the people. Is that the best way to tell the story. Don't let the new technology tame you. Embrace the new technology and tame it.


This misconception propagation is found in all aspects of multiple artistic expressions ,since the advent of digital communication and information

svetlana Y.

I don't get why people may be unsatisfied with MasterClass. Yes these are not a textbook, this particular one by mr. Scorsese is more about philosophy to me, but isn't that what you want to get from a master? It would be really odd if he sat here explaining what types of shots there are etc. I mean you can read a book or watch any of the free youtube videos and find out. These are supposed to be personal and supposed to make you think. I mean i went to a film school and every once in a while we would have a sort of workshop or talk with different masters of cinema. They weren't explaining how to hold a camera. They were sharing their point of view on life and trying to communicate something deeper, you know. Deeper than tips and tricks. And i mean if you have a real desire you will learn tips and tricks and basic rules. It's the wisdom that we're after, isn't it. Something below the surface. Sorry for so many letters haha, i'm just really happy that i got this subscription.


When I was in college, it didn't even cross my mind to major in this area. It didn't occur to me that all this stuff was available. It was, but that was not where my head was at the time. Listening to Mr. Scorsese discuss how he came by the process he used, seems as though it took so much more than desires and sparks but a ton of money and some level of leadership to inspire others to see your vision. I had no idea what my vision was. On the other hand, it at least, makes me feel a little better, at this point to hear Mr. Scorsese say "The technology can't do the work for you", yet aspiring filmmakers have such an advantage; not only the technology, but gifted, successful artists like Mr. Scorsese. Mr. Ron Howard and Ms. Jody Foster to share their experiences to get you started or to keep you going. Take it all in, if you can. I would if I had more time.

Ryan R.

Regarding technology - if you are an iOS user - you may want to check out the following apps for your filmmaking ventures: Videoleap, Videorama, and Videoshop. :)

A fellow student

This is a great lesson for me. “Making choices” takes the place of “Absorbing”. Waiting is an important precess of film making. Thanks a lot.

Eric G.

In my very first film years ago, the director and screenwriter insisted we not use any special effects at all. My complaint initially was it was a sci-fi film and to some extent, this would be expected even in the simplest of scenes. My character was a combination of Dr. Who and Obi Wan Kenobi, and eternal time-traveling entity who could materialize at will anywhere in time. He said "no," with the primary reason being cost and it was definitely a LOW budget film. He accomplished this with camera shot angles instead in how the scenes were made. It worked. In one angle (more distant) I wasn't anywhere to be seen, in the next, I either casually walked into the scene or as panned in. Now, many years later, and watching this lesson, I have come to realize filmmaking has arguably become often too much about the SFx and less about the craft of pure creation. I just watched the new DC Films "Aquaman" and it definitely underwhelmed me with the extreme use of SFx in just their blatant overuse...much like Lucasfilms use of it in SW Ep 1, 2, and 3, with unbelievable CGI characters, and unlike Ep 3,4 and 5, more recently Titanic, Avatar, and Interstellar, or a direct comparative to DC's Black Panther where the SFx were directly integral to the plot actions. Technology should not direct the film, but given "audience conditioning" and profiteering focus as we see with Disney and Lucasfilms, we are unfortunately seeing more and more SFx and CGI greenbox location driven projects watering down the original style of pure dramatically simple filmmaking. For cost sake's alone, greenbox shooting has saved many a budget. I plan to use it in both my next two.

Richard J.

When I got into the film biz, I had to cut and sync (razor blades and scotch tape) just like Scorsese did. When I made the switch to video editing I started on the Sony 3/4 inch Beta machines. They were big, heavy and slow, but they were light years ahead of the old way of doing things. Then came computers and I was in love, it took a little time to adjust to the new tech, but it's just an electronic version of the editing process I had done in the past.

Robert A.

I agree. There are no excuses, because we all the technology we need. But it's not gonna do it for us, we need to direct with the technology. Anybody can make a film today. Spielberg even says that, that you can just take your iPhone and make a whole movie and post it, anyone can do that now. Awesome lesson Martin!!!. Thank you!!!. Onward!!!.