Chapter 18 of 30 from Martin Scorsese

Editing: Part 1


Martin reveals the magic of the edit room, and shares the qualities you should look for in an editor. He also prepares you for the continuous evolution that is intrinsic to the editing process.

Topics include: The Film Comes Alive in the Edit • Find Editors Who Are Loyal • Editing Is About Experimentation • Pacing Can Begin On-Set

Martin reveals the magic of the edit room, and shares the qualities you should look for in an editor. He also prepares you for the continuous evolution that is intrinsic to the editing process.

Topics include: The Film Comes Alive in the Edit • Find Editors Who Are Loyal • Editing Is About Experimentation • Pacing Can Begin On-Set

Martin Scorsese

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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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 class, the Oscar winner teaches his approach to filmmaking, from storytelling to editing to working with actors. He deconstructs films and breaks down his craft, changing how you make—and watch—movies.

Watch, listen, and learn as Martin teaches his first-ever online class.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Martin will also answer select student questions.


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

Hearing how a master watches movies is enlightening and deceivingly not complex.

It helped in a way to understand how masters really think about each aspect of film amking.

thank you for your Good Work And it is awesome journey

Martin's class was full of stories. Many of which revealed the chaos and woes on a film set that a director must solve. This is a class I will always come back to for engineering and brainstorming new ideas to make a great movie!


Anton M.

The idea of perceiving the film's length differently in human's mind is so incredible

Jack F.

Excited to hear about Marty's working relationship with Thelma Schoonmaker.

Anastacia S.

What a privilege to have access to this content and Mr. Scorsese's deep knowledge and experience in making film, let alone his passion for and life dedication to it. MasterClass is a gift.

Robert A.

Awesome!!!. I really needed to know more about the editing process!!!. Thank you Martin!!!. Onward!!!


Session on editing is most inspiring to me as writer. It really energizes me feeling my gifted sparked story has evolved to the media of digital distribution.

Jo E.

Another Great Lesson about the art of Editing...! He explains it so perfectly and with such detail that now I'm looking forward to editing on my project.

Gene B.

Yes, editing brings a lot to the film. During shooting, it might seem like the rhythm and pace of the shot seems right. However, when you're in such a location like the editing room, where your focus solely is solely on the editing, the cut, and the time of each scene, you might see that each scene could be more enhanced whether it's related to the preciseness of timing and pacing, or being on a consistent rhythm of each sequence, as well as being able to spot some flaws like the time of each scene is too short or long, or that you want to see some change through the actors' way of facial expressions and the tone of their dialogue, etc.

Karmen B.

I found it awesome to learn about the wonderful third phenomena that happens when to two images come together. Would love to learn more about that. Also, the time element - how time is perceived while watching a film - eg; 24 fps. Most interesting lesson dear Martin. Oh yes, your speaking about loyalty with your editor I felt deeply. Then the film not only becomes a work of art but a collaboration of love. Thank you.

Stewart M.

it is beautiful how like with location a slight change in the editing room can dictate the rhythm or tone of the film.

Bruno C.

I am a videomaker, but my speciality is editing... that class was awesome... a punch in face as people say... when he speaks about loyalty I felt touched, many times in my life I needed to be disloyal to my directors in order to put food in my family table... not experimenting with him or her, or edit without directors approval... this kind of stuff Martin said. I don't know if I did that to get the work done and get paid as quickly as possible... or if the problem was really believing the directors choices... anyway I did it... but one thing for sure is... for now on... I will try to believe more in the director, be more loyal... I always can deny the opportunity anyway...


For me, the editing room itself is something that is as sacred as about as the set is, you know. So here is where the film really comes alive, I feel. And when people talk about movies or cinema, they usually speak of images or the image, you know. I think what they're really talking about is sequences of images. So when we edit a picture or movie, we put one image next to another image to create the impression of a continuous action. And then there are variations, I mean, you play with it. Discontinuities, ellipses, surprising cuts that sort of take you and reorient your sense of time and place, you know. But creating the impression of continuous action is how we tell stories in time, but there's something else for me. It's what I think of as the heart of cinema, because every time I get to the editing room, I'm struck by it all over again. And this is every time. One has to understand, sometimes you get in there you're very tired, and sometimes it's very rote kind of work. It's hard. Physical work at times, and then something happens, and I'm struck by it all over again. You take one image, and you put it together with another image, and there's a third phantom event that happens in the mind's eye. You could call it an image, or maybe a thought, or a sensation. Something happens. It's absolutely unique to this particular combination, or collision, of moving images. And if you take a frame away from one shot, or you add a couple of frames to the other shot, the image in the mind's eye changes. This will always be a wonder to me, and by the way, often in the old days, we used to see films in very bad prints which involved-- which had some jump cuts in it, or scratches, or pieces missing, and the scenes were different. By accident, they were different. So this addition and subtraction of one or two frames-- one frame. Everything depends on that one frame. It is storytelling. One frame. Each frame is important. You know Eisenstein, Sergei Eisenstein, talked about-- well, he talked about this in an extremely theoretical level. [MUSIC PLAYING] I would say that the power of his films, Eisenstein's films, happens to me despite the theoretical ideas. And this is where, you know, a good film comes alive as something more than just a succession of beautifully composed rendering of script pages, basically. This is filmmaking. You have to understand that when I started making films in the early '60s-- short films at NYU, which became a feature towards the end of the late 60s before main streets etc-- these things where you made the film yourself, you know. You were expected to, as I said, not only write the film, but know how to shoot it with a camera. But I found that ultimately, too, we were expected to edit the films ourselves, which is what I did. I had a couple of friends who helped me at NYU. We kind of switched jobs. ...