Chapter 19 of 30 from Martin Scorsese

Editing: Part 2

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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

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 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.

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Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking