Film & TV


Martin Scorsese

Lesson time 9:58 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.

Martin Scorsese
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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...

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.

It Martin Scorsese talking about what made him MARTIN SCORSESE need I say more.

This is a class that did an amazing job emphasizing the philosophical aspects of filmmaking. There was plenty of practical info too, but I would have preferred more examples from his own work. Why he made the choices he made. There is still plenty to absorb, and I will go through it all many times!

I wish it had more content concerning directing during production and various methods Scorsese employs during his films.

Martin's Direct style of talking to the viewer is what I felt to be very informative.


Bruce W.

Inspirational. I'm passionate about my goals and will accomplish them. I understand what Martin shares with us.

Teddy W.

Martin talks about why he choose to making film. I asked this question to myself, why I choose to be a cinematographer? From college I really don't know what to do after I graduated. It's really hard to find what is the true calling in life. After I met my mentor Professor Zhou, I know what I should. Life experiences is the source of your film material. The way you watch the old movies, learn from it or experience it? I never thought to experience it. Right now I think the most important thing to watch the old masters is the way how to tell the story and the way how they see the world.

A fellow student

I felt somewhat identified to what he says. I am in a point of my life that I have already in well established career but my passion for film makes me want to find out more about this world. I wonder if taking this class will open more doors of inspiration for someday doing a film.

A fellow student

What an incredible man with an incredible story. Truly on of the greats in cinema.

Giorgio M.

Amazing.. talk about mastery and fully devoting your entire life to something. This guy is the example. It’s incredible.


I am grateful for these films and stories of Mr. Scorsese's background. It is so far away from my background, but the similarities are mind blowing. I can understand why he was compelled to make these films.

Dan C.

Inspiring class... Speaking of "priests" and the "church" Here's my first short. Nominated best short film at the Vatican Film Festival in Rome, IT, 2015. Hope you enjoy. Shot on a Canon Rebel T2i. Budget: $35 bucks.

Don M.

Drawing parallels between the experience of light and imagery inside a church and the experience of seeing films / the work of designing films to create a smilier experience - this is striking. Same with his view of the desire to make films needing to "come from inside you", creating a parallel with a religious vocation - had not expected this. Myself, am not "religious" these days but his statements on these issues speaks a language which I find resonates, and also which speaks about how film, can engage people emotionally at a deep and elemental level.

pablo B.

I like the majority of films of Martin. He is, indeed, a big Director. One of the best in the last 30 years. He inspire me so much that I have write a script that would be perfect to him. It´s a real story and is incredibly awesome. Is also about faith and fight for love. I´m sure he would love it! Anyone has his email?? ;)Thanks!

Diana H.

When I look over all the films he has made I realize so many that resonate with me that I never even knew he was part of. Twenty years ago I did a report for school on the Woodstock Documentary I was just a kid and then the next thing I did was go make a documentary about The Pike Place Market in Seattle. I interviewed my Italian Grandma who worked at the bakery. HAHAHAH! I think many of us who lived in NY always fantasized about old NY because of his films. Hearing what he has to say about his calling and his spiritual life moved me. That it is ok to just know you have a film you have to make not that you have decided you are a career filmmaker. Extraordinary .