Arts & Entertainment


Martin Scorsese

Lesson time 09:59 min

Martin explains how he realized that filmmaking was his true calling in life. He also talks about the importance of watching the old masters of cinema, from Orson Welles to Max Ophüls.

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

Topics include: You Must Do What You Are Called to Do • Watch the Old Masters


I'm often asked about the relationship between my original desire to enter the priesthood and my love for film. In other words, in a sense, going from one vocation, which is one calling-- it's called one calling, which is to the priesthood-- to another, which is a calling, which it is a commitment to a way of life. And that is to filmmaking. Of course, it's a very personal matter. But I will say that it was a matter of being honest with myself as best I could and realizing that you must do what you're called to do within yourself. The church and cinema, they both made sense to me. One particular priest, who was very, very influential in my upbringing from the age of 11 to age 17 or 18, and that made sense. He really made sense. He made sense about morality and life in the outside world away from the neighborhood and the church we were in. And this was a person that I wanted to be like. Of course, in order to be a true cleric, in that sense, you do have to feel that yourself. You have to be-- there's a commitment that you can't join it because you want to be like somebody else. It has to come from you. And I found all of this started to filter into storytelling, storytelling. This particular priest did help try to balance common sense in the world, and also moral sense. But the world we're in, there was the Bowery. What they'd call the bums at the time living on the Bowery were part of the world that I grew up. There was a criminal element, along with the working class people, who were just trying to stay alive, and the older Sicilians, Neapolitans, who had come to America who didn't speak English. So much was entangled, what went on in that neighborhood, and in my own life. And it was so powerful to me. The desire to tell these stories on film came from that. And a lot of what I experienced in church, for example, the visual impact of the church; the statues, whether they were plaster statues, or whether they were actually beautifully formed versions of some sort of sculpture; devotional paintings; stations of the cross; the light in the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral; the light during the daytime, and how it shifted through the stained glass windows; the tone and the mood of the basilica itself; the nature of the rituals-- it was pre-Vatican II-- all informed me, of course, and my approach to cinema as it began making movies. The concept of morality, right and wrong, good and bad, good and evil, and how faith-- how faith is a major element in leading a life that could be a moral life. And how fate can also be something which contains a great deal of doubt. And how there's a struggle for faith. And this is something that comes from that time that was planted at that time. How does one live is the old story, as the mean streets, or a number of the other films. If you're in a world that is a-- you're in the front lines of a world tha...

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.

Explore the Class
Sign Up