Film & TV

Editing: Part 2

Martin Scorsese

Lesson time 9:38 min

Martin teaches the importance being in sync with your editor and expounds on a valuable lesson: You may have to cut the scenes you love.

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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The key thing is that I usually envision a great deal of the film, in terms of editing, on the page, in drawings, in editing sequences, in edited sequences, in editing designs. Some come to fruition, some don't. But mostly do, mostly they do. For example, the fight scenes in Raging Bull and that sort of thing, for the most part, were all designed on paper, in diagrams, drawings, et cetera. OK. The thing about it is that she knows how to put it together. She knows what I intend in the original drawings. Even if we're not looking at the drawings, I could describe it to her, and she knows the certain patterns. She knows what I like that way and knows how to achieve it technically. And then I say, OK, now it's going to go from here to here to here, and why isn't this working? And why is the middle shot not quite working? It's a series of three cuts-- 1, 2, 3, end. Why is the second one-- OK, maybe two frames too long on the second one. Take two frames off the second. I said, well, what about adding a frame on the third? Yeah, add a frame on the third. See what that-- still off. How about taking one frame off the second and putting two frames on the third? And that sort of thing. Understands what to do and doesn't turn to you and say, oh, this is ridiculous. I don't want it. Well, why don't we just leave it as it is and go in a purer way and simpler? No, this is what I'm doing, you know? And doesn't argue with you on that point, you know? It winds up, too, in the editing where certain things that you think are clear when you shoot them are unclear. And so we find different ways together to clarify those things that I agree should be clarified. In many cases, this is taking me to uncharted territory, in a way. Films that are pretty much based on a strong narrative, or strong storylines I should say. Plot more than narrative, plot. And I have an aversion to that sometimes, and so screenings are very important. And we get the feedback from people, whether you understand certain things or not. She deciphers it with me, for me. And then we talk about those issues, which we try to clarify. And then, at a certain point, I realize the ones I don't want clarified. The die is cast. That's it. These won't be clarified. Some will get it, some won't. Some will like it, some won't. And together we work that out. And it's never been a situation of losing touch with the picture, because she'll keep me there, you see. And it's always for the film, not for the-- with respect to the studio, with respect to the financiers and other people. Other people have a great deal of power in the process. The loyalty is to the film and me, rather than anyone else. And in some cases, too, that's one of the reasons I kept working with De Niro. In the '70s, a lot of the actors, a number of actors, great acto...

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.

I am shooting a feature this year and I AM SCARED TO DEATH!!!! But off to work.

It was a pleasure to watch this, I have always admired Martin and his films. Was really enjoyable, and has given me a lot of stuff to think about. I wish there was more, but what we did get was fantastic, thank you very much Martin and Master Class for putting this together ;-)

Through 30 lessons, I have learned the in-depth process of finding your way when it comes to composing your film. Martin has given me his expertise on several different approaches to overcoming obstacles that require much more than one persons attention. His techniques and wisdom build upon the way I will direct my next film.

Martin's Masterclass is deeply inspiring and full or enriching knowledge.


Paul K.

Love these two chapters on editing. I used to cut the 35mm film that I directed myself. But now with digital editing, I have to work with an editor. So what Scorsese said about his relationship with his editor was important to me.

Teddy W.

"Time on screen is longer for some reason." This is the most important in editing. The audience's psychology process when they watch the film, editor or the director must know how to control. Sometimes I think a director or an editor must be a psychologist.

Pétainguy M.

French Dailymotion, US YouTube etc and other alternative medias on internet turned situation of monopole different ... technically, we are more free than ever ! Chinese internet offer a huger public ever and a more opened mind for social critic of western habits. Other medias like OSMO app are really over borderlines and censure tools of edition. Yes, we can !

Jesse J.

interesting that he almost never brings up Wolf of Wall Street or The Departed


A few years ago, I spend money on relatively expensive storyboard software. It was so complicated to use, I ended up abandoning it altogether. I suppose I may have just been lazy, taking short cuts and whatnot. But it was easier to just draw the figures in the frames myself, which is why, I suppose, the pros do it that way.

Monique B.

I have a question for my classmates: which editing program do you prefer? I find myself using Windows Movie Maker if I am using a PC and iMovie if I am on a MAC because it comes with the machine - most of the time. I have used Premiere and took a class in it but it is expensive and I figured I will just keep using the simpler programs. I have edited youtube videos on Windows Movie maker and I was happy with it. Thanks alot.

Robert A.

The part that's got me the most is the part about if your completely satisfied than something is wrong. So true. Thank you again Martin!!!. Your such an amazing instructor. Onward!!!

Jo E.

He's a terrific instructor and explains the process to the point where I totally understand what he's explaining about scene editing and how it's never finished. Great Lesson...!


He’s so humble. Listening to his story & hearing about his lessons, I personally identify as a filmmaker. The most important lesson is to stay true to your vision.

Avery D.

"You always think, by the way, that you're not going to get physically ill, but you do. " A phenomenal lesson! I am somewhat of a perfectionist and it's reassuring to learn how Mr. Scorsese handles cutting his films. "It's never finished"-So true!