Chapter 4 of 30 from Martin Scorsese

Discovering Your Process

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There is no set process for filmmaking, but in this lesson Martin offers you a glimpse of what his own process looks like. Learn to let your film take on its own life and always remain open to unexpected changes that could add value to a scene.

Topics include: There Is No One Process • Stay Open While Making Your Film

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 don't think there's anything that could be deemed a process which covers all the bases, so to speak. I mean, look, yes, there's a process. In order to start shooting it, you put the camera on some sort of device or you want to hand hold it. You have to make a choice there. There are some basic things that are more logistical than anything else-- the use of equipment, knowing what equipment could do, knowing which tool to use. But natural process, you know there are many people who just work it out. And many people who kind of write as they go along. The script for [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH],, the Voyage Through Italy, Rosselini, I saw it framed on a wall in an apartment in Rome. It was one page, A paragraph. Not saying everybody does that. Fellini, when he would shoot, I was on his set a number of times, but in 1980, '81 doing City of Women, he had five different sets on the same stage. And there was constant talking and shouting and yelling and he was running up and down and people laughing, people arguing. In the meantime, he was shooting. He was shooting. I remember people saying, what's going on. Well, he's shooting over here. It was a very different way of shooting. Of course in Italy, they don't use sync sound. So every body is used to talking loudly, you know. And as it was shooting, we were guests on the set, he would come over and talk to us, and he'd go back to the shot. So it's a very different way of working, a very different process. There are filmmakers who have an editor whom they trust who knows their style and knows what they are, and has worked with them a long time, editing while they're shooting. The film could be put together two weeks after the picture is finished wrapping shooting. I like to wait until I finish shooting and work with my editor, you know. And so what I'm saying is that there is no process. And when people talk to you about a process you might as well open a textbook. Textbook'll give you some basic facts, logistics, facts, that sort of thing. But whether good or bad, it's art. Meaning the quality of it, I don't know, it depends on the person. The quality of your own work, I don't know. You just know you have to do it. So in that doing of it, you are making judgments. Whether the quality of the judgment is something that's going to last to mean something to people 50 years from now, who knows. You know? Do you feel good about it? Very often people feel terrible about some of it and it's quite good to many people. So there really is no process. I mean, yes, to a certain extent, it would be good to talk to the costume person before shooting. OK? I mean, it's common sense. Preparation seems to be good, especially for narrative cinema, that sort of thing. Seems to be, which means you should talk to your director of photography, talk to your locations peopl...

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