From Martin Scorsese's MasterClass

Editing: Part 2

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.

Topics include: Find an Editor Who Will Maintain Your Vision • You Might Have to Lose Scenes You Love • Your First Cut Should Make You Physically Ill


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.

Topics include: Find an Editor Who Will Maintain Your Vision • You Might Have to Lose Scenes You Love • Your First Cut Should Make You Physically Ill

Martin Scorsese

Teaches Filmmaking

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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.

Well, you picked my favorite director. Each class had value. It was so great. I would love to see one from Paul Thomas Anderson, Soderbergh, Jeremy Saulnier, and many more directors. The pacing here was absloutly great as well.

"Mr. Scorsese is a master! A man who sees directing as a calling. Thanks for the inspiration."

What an absolute privilege to be able to learn from such a master and innovator. Mr Scorcese's lessons are easy to follow and encouraging while also being steeped in film history. There's so much to learn here but what I will take away the most from this class is that making a great picture is comes down to an unflinching desire to tell the story. Thank you Mr Scorcese!!

This class was absolutely incredible, and the thing I needed. It helped me improve in so many ways to convince me to continue my own journey into Filmmaking, and I have learned things I never thought I would have known... Through only 30 Assignments. It was an honor to take this class.


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!

Gene B.

Yeap always stays true to your vision. I like how he establishes trust both sides with his editor, as well as having trust for everyone in his crew. Working with the editor in such a humble, passionate, and get into work and get it done manner allows them to develop a relationship together, rather than just being coworkers. As a result, Scorsese was able to see a lot of his envisions for his film become true in a practical manner through editing, as the editor knows him so well that shes know what he wants and his style of film, whether it's the editing, cutting, design, drawing out scenes, ​etc.

Christopher B.

Love his "roll up your sleeves and get into the work" approach. Practical, down to earth, and obviously effective.

Gabriel R.

I'm glad to watch his lessons, because the problems he's had faced through out his career are the same comparing to an unknown filmmaker. I guess the key is to push yourself harder and harder till the final product becomes something mildly satisfying to you, but that it could be great to an audience.