Arts & Entertainment

Martin's Education

Martin Scorsese

Lesson time 8:13 min

Martin teaches you to appreciate the value of every shot using the lessons he learned from his tough—but inspirational—professor at NYU.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Learn by Doing • Find Your Individual Voice • The Value of a Shot • A Great Teacher Can Give You Confidence


When I went to NYU in the early 60s-- 1960 I think it was-- it certainly wasn't the NYU we know today. It was Washington Square College which I enrolled in. It was quite small, and the introduction to film really wasn't a film school so to speak. There were film departments along with radio and television, but the introduction to film was split into-- the first two semesters, and they were called History of Motion Pictures one and two. This along with all the other required courses for the first two years of the school. Our teacher was a man named Haig Manoogian of Armenian descent. And from the first class he talked very, very, very fast, almost like a drill instructor, and he covered a lot of ground very quickly. And I remember sitting there just taking endless notes, endless notes. He'd show a film, and if he thought a student was just there for-- to waste time, just take it easy and watch movies, he would throw them out basically. So he weeded people out. And in our second year we took an introductory production course. We had 16 millimeter cameras, and it was called sight and sound. And we learned the very basic, the rudiments of film making, the very basic elements of lenses, using 16 millimeter black and white film. We did little exercises. And by the end of the semester, by the end of the year, I think it was, we were able to make a three to four minute film based on what we had learned about the equipment and lighting and that sort of thing. In those classes, more people were weeded out. What Haig focused on ultimately, and he was heavily influenced by the Italian near realism and new wave filmmaking, but he really focused on the individual voice, the individual stories that you felt that you had to tell. And he wouldn't let anyone direct unless they had written the film themselves. Separate from a nonfiction film, I'm talking about. And if you didn't write it yourself, basically you were out of the class. I remember one student telling him, "I want to direct." And he says, "OK. Where's your script?" And he said, "Well, I need a script. I'm a director." He said, "No. Go write your script. Otherwise, you can't do it/" He also-- we found ourselves at odds because, I mean, he hated melodrama. He hated-- he said I don't want to see any of you kids going for a shot where somebody picks up a gun. He was encouraging everyone to express themselves and protect that spark in themselves, and not be influenced by other kinds of filmmaking. If they wanted that sort of thing, then go into television or go into another-- go to Los Angeles was a different situation. It was a little different for me, because I grew up in a world where at times people had access to guns, and that was part of life or a fact of life at times. So melodrama would turn out to be drama to a certain extent. And eventually that led to Mean Streets and other film...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Martin Scorsese

In 30 lessons, learn the art of film from the director of Goodfellas, The Departed, and Taxi Driver.

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