From Martin Scorsese's MasterClass

Finding the Story

Martin teaches you how to see the inherently cinematic elements of your daily life and how to identify the themes and stories you are most drawn to.

Topics include: Life Is Cinematic • The Story Has to Be Close to You • The Theme Should Be Important to You • The Desire, the Passion, and the Need


Martin teaches you how to see the inherently cinematic elements of your daily life and how to identify the themes and stories you are most drawn to.

Topics include: Life Is Cinematic • The Story Has to Be Close to You • The Theme Should Be Important to You • The Desire, the Passion, and the Need

Martin Scorsese

Teaches Filmmaking

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I don't think there's anything more inherently cinematic about one way of life versus another. If you're inclined towards cinema then you see what is cinematic within that way of life. I mean everything is cinematic. All of life is cinematic, depends on how you perceive it. I can only talk about my own life, I mean my own case, and what I know. I grew up in a certain part of the world. And because I had a very particular place, and because I had asthma from the age of three on, I observed a lot. I wasn't allowed to participate in anything that was over-exciting in terms of physical activity, sports and that sort of thing. So I observed a lot. And I found I was absorbing it, really. And then later, you know, I found I was interpreting it. And translating it, I think. And trying to transmit or express it, and find different ways to tell stories about things that I observed or was immersed in around me-- whether it was outside the apartment or in the family. And what I observed and absorbed at home, out in the street, as I said, in the church-- these are things that formed me, just as the very different worlds in which, say, Michael Powell or Stanley Kubrick or Don Siegel grew up formed them. So I can only speak from that world. [THEME MUSIC] The filmmaking that I tried to do, particularly when I first started out, was stories came from my own experience, or subject matters that interested me only, or solely I should say. And that slowly developed into other projects or stories-- scripts, even-- that I was able to work with interests or concepts from other writers. But primarily, really the story has to come from me. Or at least I'm interested in this particular character, idea, in some cases actors. In the case of Nick Pileggi, for example, he wrote that wonderful book Wiseguy, which became Goodfellas. And you know he has such a-- the book itself spoke to me immediately. And the structure of the book, too. I found a way, along with Nick, to be able to pull together a representation of that world that was depicted in the book. But also from my own experience. Because Nick has an extraordinary knowledge of the world he's chronicling. But beyond that it's not a very dry-- how should one put it? A systematic, didactic way of talking about that world, or depicting that world, or representing that world. He has a philosophical point of view with a great sense of humor and irony about that part of us, or that part of human nature, which is eminently, for many people, corruptible. And the thinking that goes into that, and how one step leads to another, and eventually is a complete chain of events-- a disastrous chain of events. And so he has this point of view about it. And a way of presenting it. And so we would have a great deal of enjoyment working on that. [THEME MUSIC] Taxi Driver, really the script was so strong. And it ...

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's class was full of stories. Many of which revealed the chaos and woes on a film set that a director must solve. This is a class I will always come back to for engineering and brainstorming new ideas to make a great movie!

I love the "handing down" teaching style of Martin

Scorsese's Class is so inspiring. I too am a product of N.Y.U. and I find his references, knowledge and style to be inspiring. I have started and completed a song to be part of a score to a film I will write myself, while watching his lectures. Thanks for the Wisdom.

I just love Scorsese. And it´s a pleasure to hear him in this journey through cinema.



When Mr. Scorsese said "I'm obsessed with the questions of faith. They won't go away." And ended the lesson, all I could say was "wow". The expression on his face really took me home.


I have always heard that you should write what you know. I had one of those experiences that I have seen in many films. I fainted, fell down the stairs face first, broke several bones, damaged my spinal cord, was hospitalized for several months, had a variety of experiences with the hospital staff, some bad, some good, I had one of those physical therapist that they write books about, her name is Natalie (thanks Nat). I had several experiences that I have seen in television shows and they bring back terrible memories that I am not sure I could survive during the writing process, yet alone, the film making stages. These real life dramas are the last thing I want to write about to experience on film (even it I were fortunate enough to have the opportunity. When I was growing up, I fantasized about being a Mousketeer, I love musicals and cop shows. Go figure.

Vickie R.

After this crazy year I am a firm believer in good verses evil. EVIL does exist. And for some strange reason, evil people attract to me who is NOT evil....far from it. Even though I was JewishI went to a Catholic school and got an "A" in religion and the biology award. Yet thru-out my life evil has followed me like a monster truck tailgating me on the 405 freeway. I'm even shocked I made it to 55 yrs old!!!! True story. Once I even had a friend around 7 go screaming out of my house because she said I looked like Linda Blair in the very scary Excorsist movie????? Go figure?


Finding the story must emerge from within or has to be captured from inside someone else. As Martin sees it this siphoning in awareness that which is around us is a passion that drives us to create.

Jo E.

As a screenplay writer it's important for me to write about what I know best, what I'm passionate about and the message I'm trying to convey so this lesson really made me think about the different aspects of story telling. Excellent lesson...!

Musical Arts at Elevations

Very inspiring concepts - how motivation, value system and passion are in the end inherently linked to the ultimate results of our creative process. Similarly to great musicians, writers and other great creates, Mr. Scorsese gives transparently of his true self.


This lesson really helped hone in on what I love about the movies I watch, and explore more of the films I want to make.

David M.

I like how this lesson made me question the themes I am attracted to and why certain memories stick in my mind. It opened up a whole new way to look at why I enjoy certain stories over others. Each of our life stories is held as unique but once shared we learn it is universal.

Dinar D.

This has taught me a new way of looking towards script and the methods of cinematic expressions. Indeed, we get attached more towards stories that are appealing to us, as well they become a great production ahead.

Eric G.

Here we see the wonderful cinematic heart and "soul" of the master, his inner film philosophy if you will. Love it, Martin Scorsese. Oh, that I could get you to direct my next spy thriller project ready for production...It's very much my "passion project"...what a film that would become...based on a best seller with a "bestseller director." Whow. Thanks for this great lesson. I walk away from this one very refreshed inside out.