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Arts & Entertainment

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.

Inspiring, on point, useful... Highly recommended

Martin had so much wisdom to share about the business. His deep awareness and insights were inspiring.

Martin Scorsese - a genius mind and eye for filmmaking. I learned to trust my feelings and judgement, not to be afraid. To go with my gut and step out of the normal into the unknown. This will be my opportunity to bring my thoughts into vision.

Great way to spend time on the filmmaking procedure and film analysis.


Derek G.

My big takeaways are: freedom of form, word and images for communication, and movement in film.

Stephen S.

Wonderful lesson. He's right. We have to write what we know. Film what we know. Make it very personal. Everyone has a story to tell. Why not tell yours? Moments in life are very cinematic if you look at them that way. His movies are very personal. That's what makes him Marty.

Antonia T.

Wonderful lesson. I'm re-watching all the Scorsese's films now. I have to confess that I never liked Scorsese's films too much because they tend to leave women in the corner (with the exception of 2 or 3 films). And this is a real pity. Nevertheless Scorsese is an amazing filmmaker. Of course, we all know that. But his art would be even more amazing if he would speak to women too. I would like to share here some thoughts about the Irishman (with all respect and admiration). I hope not to make anybody angry! Somebody else shares these thoughts? (I would like to hear more from women here, but I can see than many men enrolled for Scorsese's masterclass, and only a few women did. I wonder why...). OK, here are my thoughts: "The Irishman: A Masterpiece About Men Made For Men":


Martin, your thoughts about gathering film stories from daily life also fascinates me - that and our geneological background, where we came from and whom some of those families represent as the basis I believe for good future film making. And to follow what we love to do, everything falls into place after that, going down that right destiny path. Ariel

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.