Film & TV

Finding the Story

Martin Scorsese

Lesson time 10:05 min

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.

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 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.

Not so much detailed about the technical part of the craft of filmmaking. But still worth because of the impressions and sensibility of Scorcese. A good course, but only for people who already had studied the technical part before.

Martin Scorsese is a genius and one of my favorite director. He make movies in an old fashioned way. Great advices backed with cinema history. Love it

Overall, I learned a ton about the practicality of making a picture. However, it was a bit too technical at times and I was a bit unsure of some of the terms used. Then again, I'm more of a screenwriter than a director ....

As someone outside of the filmmaking industry, I found the class was very interesting.


A fellow student

I've always struggled with clearly delineating the "write what you know" dogma of art. I like that Scorcese stopped short that, saying that the THEME must be close to you. Not that any idol's advice should be taken as gospel immune to scrutiny, but I still wish there were some kind of definable metric that would let me know how far a theme could be extrapolated before it becomes so foreign to me that it is no longer under my jurisdiction of cinematic expression.

kenna C.

The thought of creating the world you see for others to see. portraying your own perspective to others is what has driven me to do film. To express my thoughts and beliefs on the subjects at hand.

Teddy W.

Observe the life with the camera. The eye is your lens and the brain is your camera CCD. Every filmmaker's film is the vision of his world, is what he saw or what he think from the real work. Before you making a film you should know how to observe and think. Film is a tool for you to explore the world and the human which we can't see in the real world. You absorb and then output.“There was a desire and a need to really not rest until I was able to express these thoughts and these stories on film.” How to get this feel? What is the story? Why I need to tell the story to people? For entertainment? For reveal the world I see?

Jaylani C.

It was really good I love the insight into Scorsese’s approach to storytelling


“Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” RUMI

Pétainguy M.

One of my teachers called this : fake-theology of my ego. How to generate myths and patterns using my daily life, as a human being self-identify with his worldly ego and ignorant of his divine identity, reveled only by initiation and mysticism. Most of modern stories are "self-psychoanalysis" thematics, that explains how could be so important a film maker in spite he works with a huge group of people. I loved Martin's experience because he was one of the film makers capable to project his inner spiritual life onto the screen. Jesus of Nazareth and Kundun are ones of my favorite films, and had a strong influence on my initiatic and spiritual choices. I am very grateful : nice job and wonderful operation.

Wes L.

I have enjoyed many classes, but what is getting tiresome is the talking head shots. Can you imagine Gordon Ramsey talking about making pasta and not showing the visuals? What if Martin took a script and actually went through the storyboarding process of the first scene? Where are the students asking questions...making him explain or dig deeper into filmmaking? How about bringing in a cinematographer to discuss how a scene was put together. Too many of these classes are not classes, buy lectures without even a Q and A at the end! How you Martin direct on of these classes. He's talking about cinema, but the visual presentation is a snore!


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?