Chapter 7 of 30 from Martin Scorsese

Directing & Technology

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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.

Topics include: All You Need Is the Spark • Technology Will Not Direct for You • Take the Time to Absorb Your Choices

Martin Scorsese

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 class, the Oscar winner teaches his approach to filmmaking, from storytelling to editing to working with actors. He deconstructs films and breaks down his craft, changing how you make—and watch—movies.

Watch, listen, and learn as Martin teaches his first-ever online class.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Martin will also answer select student questions.

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Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking