Film & TV

Working With Crew

Martin Scorsese

Lesson time 10:25 min

Learn the differences between working with a small, core crew and a big one, and how to empower individual members of your crew.

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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It's really good if you have people around you that you trust, which is a basic element in the filmmaking process, or anything really. And goes for any film you're making. The trust is important between your director of photography, you, your assistant, director, co-producers, that sort of thing. What I mean is that, if it's a passion project, and everyone's invested in it the way you are, that's really rewarding. That's something very special. You feel you've gone through some sort of experience together. It's happened, luckily over the years, that I've had a few of those, just recently, with Silence, for example, Mean Streets to a certain extent. Although, a lot of the crew on Mean Streets, I learned how to put a film together through Roger Corman's crew. But they felt the energy of the whole thing, and they knew, somehow, because my enthusiasm and just passion for making the picture, they kind of were infected by it in a way. But I think, primarily, it's great when the crew is tight enough, and like a real working unit, that feels that they're creating something special with you. There's an alternative, of course, and that is that it becomes something impersonal. It's a bigger set, a bigger situation. But still, even there, people are doing very, very hard work, whether it's making sure the rain machine works perfectly, or that sort of thing. But as long as you have your inner core of key people sharing that desire to make this film, sharing it, and, ideally, not necessarily overdoing their role, so to speak, but pulling it all together, to help you get what you want, or what you think you want, because very often, as I say, when you get into the set, or when you get into a location, and you've designed something, and you're working with the actors, and things start changing, sometimes you lose your sense of exactly what the shot should be. [MUSIC PLAYING] If the people around you, your keep people, understand what you want based on conversations before you started shooting, reading the script, designs, all kinds of-- especially if you are on location, where people are working together, eating together, and that sort of thing, you begin to get a sense of who you could depend on, and they would be able to tell you and help you through the hard times, really. So, this is something that's really a key factor. It's a core unit. Now, when I say a passion project, that core unit could be the whole crew, because it's a smaller crew, usually it's a lower budget, it's a different thing. But when you're on a bigger picture, that small core is really your life core, your lifeline. I come from a time, too, when there was a lot of experimenting with movie making, where we actually thought, at times-- although, I don't know, I didn't try it-- but that in the 60s, there were experiments in making-- or they're called collective decisions, collective filmmaking. As the director, yo...

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.

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

So Great to hear his stories first hand on the history of so many great films. Really helped to understand how we got where we are and he provided a look into the minds of the great film makers whose shoulders we all stand on now.

I would love to hear how he worked with actors, more in detail.

I've learned that all the left-brained how-to knowledge about cameras, lights, sound, editing software plug-ins, doesn't mean a thing if you lose the right-brained spark that made you want to tell a story.


Troy B.

Great lesson by Mr. Scorsese. this lesson was very powerful, learning to put together a core group of teammates that want to active the same goals just as bad as you do on the set of whatever film you are putting together is the best advice you could give someone like myself. That story he told about the typhoon really hit home for me.


The show must go on no matter what !! Mr Scorese refers to a production filmed in Thailand. and a Typhoon rolled in. Looking back to mu Marine Corps days, Mission must be executed to positive completion,

Jo E.

Great Lesson…! I understand the concept that everyone has to be on the same page and feel strongly about the film project. Trust goes a long way when everyone is working together for the same goal in mind.

Avery D.

The crew is critical to a film! I really understood and agreed with the point about how every crew member must have a motivation to make the project. Off to find myself a passionate and trustworthy crew!

Robert A.

Yeah I agree you cant let todays technology stop you from expressing yourself the way you want in film. It's also important to trust your crew, because just because you feel it won't get done the way you expect, doesn't mean it cant be done. Your crew will figure something out. Awesome lesson!!!. Thank you again martin!!!. Onward!!!.

Gene B.

Being passionate and have people who understand and know what you want in a film/ or what you visualize for a film certainly helps in creating a film or shooting scene you ideally want and visualize for. Plus, having a core group also helps the crew to understand what you want better, as the people in your core group could have other core groups of people that will help you in your film and the process of it that allows the work process to be faster and accurate, as well as getting what you want precisely! Plus, without a crew, or a single member of the crew or even actors, the film that the director/filmmaker visualize won't become true or ideal to what the director has pictured and the process will be much harder. Within hard work, it is important to recognize the dedication and the commitment everyone has put in making the film come true. It establishes trust, as well as wanting the crew members to work with you in the future again. It can be seen in Silence, where Scorsese mentions that even though the weather conditions are bad. The crew and the actors are prepared and ready on set to do their job. These people are willing to work for Scorsese despite the weather conditions because he has established​ trust and has shown enthusiasm and passion through his film and the process of filmmaking. Trust is crucial indeed.

Maram J.

I have a selected crew that I opt to work with every time. As not only their director/producer, but also the only woman on set, I was nervous at first but as I built a solid, fun and engaging environment, these guys became family. i still work with them on every project and it has made all the difference in my sanity.

Sydne H.

I've had the opportunity to work in various roles on differing crews and I can confidently agree with Scorsese's ideology around working with a crew that is as passionate and committed as you are. There's a clear difference in crew member's attitudes when they show up to set and they love what their doing vs when they aren't invested into the project and I'm a strong believer in people being effected by the moods around them. Energies feed off of each other so find a solid crew that gets you & the vision!!!

Mia S.

"There's a lot of very knowledgeable people, good people, especially if they like working with you - they're going to try to find a way to get what you want or what you think what you want, until you have to get what you need, as they say. There's a core group, three or four people, that deal with trust and excitement about what you're doing and trying to help you achieve it. It works in a way with the core people together with you working for the same goal branches out - they have a core people, this one has a core, and they're all working together. That's the ideal, particularly when you're in a location somewhere, you get there, there's a typhoon - seriously. 'We could do it, we could shoot today!' First of all, it was never in my head that we weren't going to shoot; secondly, they'd said there was going to the tail end of a typhoon, but not like this; thirdly, they were so beaten that I didn't even recognize them - and yet, they were out there, ready to pull it together and shoot, which is what we did. We did it rapidly, because the weather dictated these things, the movement of the crew, camera moves, the crane, etc. We were able to do the scene because there are different elements that come together - pretty much a scene without dialogue, that sort of thing - and also because the people playing the parts were Japanese, were so committed to playing these parts that as soon as you said 'Action,' rolling that camera, they're tied to a stake, being set on fire - they were already there in the scene, there was no trying to coax these actors. They were on, you see - the crew was set, they were going to shoot, that was it. Rain, typhoon or not, we were doing it."

Mia S.

"I come from a time when there was a lot of experimenting with movie making; at times in the 60s, there were experiments in making 'collective decisions.' Collective filmmaking - as the director, you can't score points with false modesty, you have to assume the responsibility of being the one who makes those guiding decisions. But you also have to remember that every single person on your set plays a role in making your film, you need them. And you need their dedication, expertise. It's what Kubrick said: 'What is the hardest part of directing? Getting out of the car in the morning; once you get out of the car, you're besieged with questions and usually you get out of the car, there are problems..' I get out and look at them and say, 'Aren't you smiling? What can't we do today?' You just get used to that. What it is is that, it's true - getting out of the car begins a process. I'd always said I wanted to do an article, taping all the questions you're asked, including, 'Have you got your right shoes? Do you want coffee now? I really disagree with this line at this point, changing the entire character.' The biggest problems to the smallest minutiae. That's why it's always advisable to have less questions. The less questions the better, during the day. Unnecessary ones should be eliminated. And you have to cut through all of that, cut through all of them, the equipment, everything, to get back to the idea that you had in your head when you thought it was possibly a good suggestion to take up to make this particular film. You've got to focus, eliminate everything else around it. I don't think it should be - there's no way to say, 'Don't be intimidated by the enormity of the machine, because very often - certain kinds of films - is is that way. Particularly because of technology today, I don't think you should let that stop you. If you feel you want to say something, express it through visual means, you have the technology to do it yourself. That could build exponentially to a bigger production; because of that, it'll always be a learning process - how to deal with the machine. But don't let the machine get in the way. Also, don't let the machine tell you what you can't do; you may not be able to do pretty much anything, but don't let them tell you you can't."