Martin Scorsese is a well-known Italian-American filmmaker notable for his groundbreaking role in Hollywood.
I’ve always admired his movies. So, out of curiosity, I was inclined towards learning more about his filmmaking journey, techniques, etc. Fortunately, I found out he has a course on Masterclass, a well-known platform. I was more than happy to learn from this Oscar-Winning personality.
In this article, I will be presenting my views on this course. As this is an honest and personal opinion, I aim to make you understand what you can expect from each lesson and who the course is beneficial for.
What is MasterClass: A Brief Overview
The MasterClass is a modern education platform. Immediately after its release, it gained popularity. After its release in 2015, the platform is already home to millions of students. Well you wanna know more about MasterClass, feel free to check our in-depth MaterClass review here.
The platform has some of the top instructors of different industries. You can learn strategies and secrets from people who are famous in their field. From Gordon Ramsey, Martin Scorsese, Hans Zimmer, Penn and Teller, Thomas Keller, and 100+ more outstanding personalities.
The video quality of MasterClass is exceptionally high. In addition, courses are provided with a workbook and PDF to make your learning experience more effective.
You will find lessons from famous individuals in various fields, like Cooking, Film Industry, Music Industry, Writing, Science, Tech, etc. The courses last from 2-5 hours. Although this varies from course to course, the difficulty of the lessons isn’t very high.
MasterClass also has a mobile app for both iOS and Android. So you can watch these videos whenever you want, wherever you want, and at your own pace.
Martin Scorsese: His popularity in the Filmmaking Industry
Martin Scorsese is a popular filmmaker. He has won multiple awards for his films, including the Oscar and the Academy award. He has been popular since the 1970s and has also had a leading-edge impact in the new Hollywood era.
Some of his popular and successful films include The Departed (2006), Taxi Driver (1976), Goodfellas (1990), The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013), Shutter Island (2010), and The Irishman (2019).
He won 3 BAFTA awards for Goodfellas in 1990, an Academy Award for The Departed in 2007, as 4 Golden Globes for his role as the best director. He’s also won the AFI Movie of the year Award.
What makes him stand out from other filmmakers?
Martin Scorsese, as we know, is critically acclaimed and globally recognized as one of the most prominent filmmakers of all time. He’s also always managed to gather the greatest actors for his movies that include the very well-known names Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro.
He likes to take risky approaches for his movies. Despite his films having a smaller budget than other big-blockbuster movie franchises and modern directors, he greatly impacted his audience. He is known for focusing on multiple genres as well as maneuvering his own unique approaches to each of his films.
Martin Scorsese Masterclass: The Art Of Filmmaking
This is Martin Scorsese’s first online class. The famous Oscar victor teaches various approaches, including scriptwriting, storytelling, editing, technology, casting, and so much more.
There is a total of 30 video lessons in the entirety of the course. The lessons include an introduction that lasts from about 5-20 minutes each. The total run-time is about 5 hours. He gives the breakdown of his approaches and the art of filmmaking.
To make the experience even better, the course offers supplementary resources, for example, a workbook to practice after the lessons and a forum where you can interact with other people taking the course.
Martin Scorsese Masterclass: A glimpse
So here are a few details on Martin Scorsese Masterclass:
Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking – Lessons
“We can't keep thinking in a limited way about what cinema is. We still don't know what cinema is. Maybe cinema could only really apply to the past or the first 100 years when people actually went to a theater to see a film, you see?”
The Martin Scorsese Masterclass begins with a brief introduction about what the Masterclass is about. Then, the filmmaker explains what he expects the viewers to achieve from this Masterclass. His aim is that everyone stays true to their unique filmmaking journey.
“The cinema began with a passionate, physical relationship between celluloid and the artists and craftsmen and technicians who handled it, manipulated it, and came to know it the way a lover comes to know every inch of the body of the beloved. No matter where the cinema goes, we cannot afford to lose sight of its beginnings.”
Based on his personal experience, he explains how this course is not meant for career-centered filmmakers but for people who are truly drawn towards its magical experience and find it their true mission.
He talks about how enlightening it was for him to watch films as a child and make it his life-long calling that contributed to his desire to tell stories in his own beautiful and unique approaches. Finally, he talks about the relationship between his passion for entering the priesthood and his love for films.
He then proceeds to talk about the history of films and improve our techniques by watching some of the old classical masters of film, such as Orson Welles. Finally, he explains how it is important to draw attention from your own experiences and go your unique way to tell stories.
- Martin’s Education
“There's no such thing as simple. Simple is hard.”
We’ve all had those teachers or professors at our university or schools who are tough but yet efficient for us. Similarly, Martin talks about his strict professor at NYU in this lesson. He talks about how his toughness was the key to motivation for him.
This professor taught all of his students to preserve the fire in themselves, always express themselves, and never let any other kind of filmmaking influence their ability to tell stories. He’d always tell his students to write scripts before directing because he wanted them to focus on individualism.
- Discovering Your Process
“Young filmmakers should learn how to deal with the money and learn how to deal with the power structure. Because it is like a battle.”
It’s important to understand that there’s not a general process when it comes to filmmaking. The possibilities of approaches are endless. In this lesson, Martin presents a glimpse of what his process is like. He explains how unexpected changes can bring even more significance to your film. You can shape these changes and bend them your way by using them to your advantage.
He talks about how not to let generalization affect your filmmaking process. Instead, do what you feel is best for your film. To put it in a nutshell, it’s essential to go with the flow and trust your process. It’s great even to edit while you shoot.
He presents the example of one of his movies, Raging Bull, where the boxing scene was shot while at the moment. This is what makes films stand out.
- Channeling Your Influences
“I've seen many, many movies over the years, and there are only a few that suddenly inspire you so much that you want to continue to make films.”
Having your own thought process and individualism is important. However, having other films and filmmakers as a reference can have a positive impact as well. Martin talks about getting inspiration from other influential directors in this lesson.
He presents a connection between memory and film and how this influences each individual’s filmmaking process by inspiring them. He also gives examples by showing clips of his movies and showing how he drew inspiration for them from old films.
Taxi Driver and Northwest Passage are great examples of this. He explains how he interpreted scenes from that movie to learn the efficacy of cinematography.
- Developing Your Style
“The storyboard for me is the way to visualize the entire movie in advance.”
In this lesson, Martin talks about how you must obtain the need to make a film. Next, he talks about how envisioning your storyboards can determine your filmmaking style. Finally, he talks about how you can develop your visual knowledge of viewing images as sequences.
He also presents a few examples of what methods we can use to display frames and determine camera movements and angles.
He sees this as a critical setting to identify and develop your style. He talks about the importance of voice-overs and the power of documentaries in his feature films.
- Directing & Technology
“There was always a part of me that wanted to be an old-time director. But I couldn’t do that. I’m not a pro.”
We all know how filmmaking has changed. For example, there’s been a significant technology change from black and white films to 3D films. In this lesson, he explains how technological tools affect the filmmaking process.
He begins by explaining how he started his own filmmaking journey. Then, he provides an understanding of the progression of filmmaking technology while at the same time explaining how it can have limitations as well.
For example, he used an example of how the use of Steadicam was beneficial in his movie Raging Bull.
- Finding The Story
“Now more than ever, we need to talk to each other, to listen to each other and understand how we see the world, and cinema is the best medium for doing this.”
In this lesson, Martin explains the significance of observing and perceiving things around you. According to him, it’s where you draw inspiration from. The story is within you; all you have to do is comprehend how to present it to the world.
When you’re observing or examining your influences, you must do everything from your perspective. This way, you can find your actual, raw ideas.
He gives an example of his movie Goodfellas, which was based on a book called Wiseguy, written by Nicholas Pileggi. He explains how he used his perspective while finding ideas from the book.
- Working With The Script
“If it’s a modern-day story dealing with certain ethnic groups, I think I could open up certain scenes for improvisation while staying within the structure of the script.”
A script, as we know, is the first step to filmmaking. So, first, he talks about how he reads scripts and how he develops ideas. Then, he talks about how to improve your script.
In this lesson, he uses his movies Gangs Of New York, Casino, and Taxi Driver as case studies. He talks about staying on track and not losing your way in the crucial script-making process. He explains how making errors is a part of the filmmaking process and not to see it as a failure of some sort. Not everything has to be flawless.
- Casting Actors
“More than ninety percent of directing a picture is the right casting.”
We know that other than the great stories Martin’s told us, another reason why his movies flourish is his preference for the cast. He’s worked with great personalities like Leonardi DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Mark Ruffalo, etc.
The choice of actors also determines the audience of the film. Other than the faces of the film, it’s necessary that the actors you’re working with know exactly what you want. It’s important to have a good relationship with them.
The actors must be welcoming to all possibilities, and they must understand the importance of the film.
- Directing Actors
“Every year or so, I try to do something; it keeps me refreshed as to what's going on in front of the lens, and I understand what the actor is going through.”
To have a great outcome, it’s important to trust and build a relationship with your actors. It’s essential to understand their strengths and let them experiment. He talks about how important it is to go in sync with your actors.
Your actors must know when exactly to speak, how to speak. It’s almost as if their perspective of the film should be the same as you to get the most out of them. Other than that, you have to be open to their acting choices at times as well. If the actor has just adequate freedom on set, without a doubt, every scene you film will have an exceptional outcome.
“Always get to the set or the location early so that you can be all alone and draw your inspiration for the blocking and the setups in private and quiet. In one sense, it's about protecting yourself; in another sense, it's about always being open to surprise, even from the set, because there may be some detail that you hadn't noticed.”
Locations play a significant role in filmmaking. In this lesson, Martin talks about how influential location choices have been for the success of his movies. He talks about how you can use the constraints of the locations to your benefit.
Making the best use of your location lets you build the perfect set.
- Production Design
“Film in the 20th century, it’s the American art form, like jazz.”
In this lesson, Martin teaches you how production design can help you express different themes of your films. Naturally, the production design plays a huge role in how you bring your stories to life.
He compares how production designs differ in his films, like the production design on Goodfellas and the production design on Raging Bull. He also talks about how the designs differ according to the year.
- Costume Design
“I’m not interested in a realistic look, not at all, not ever. Every film should look the way I feel.”
In this lesson, Martin talks about how costumes impact a film. Costumes must fit the theme of the story. He talks about collaborating with the actors to find the ideal clothing for their respective roles.
He talks about how the clothing differs according to the period of when the film’s set, the location, and other circumstances.
- Understanding Cinematography
” Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.”
There are various strategies when it comes to Cinematography. For example, the way a scene is filmed can also depict the emotions of the audience.
In this lesson, Martin talks about communicating with your cinematographer in a precise way. He’s also given some of his favorite filming techniques from other movies and how certain effects were able to achieve just the right way to portray a message in a certain scene.
- Shooting Low Budget Films
“More personal films, you could make them, but your budgets would be cut down.”
One of the most important things you need to know as a filmmaker is that you shouldn’t view the Budget as a limit. There’s a lot of benefits when it comes to shooting low-budget films.
He talks about his experience of filming a low-budget film with the cinematographer Michael Ballhaus. You can get the perfect scenes with a firm budget, no matter how many restrictions you have. He also talks about how to steer timings on set.
He’s given two examples as case studies – The Last Temptation Of Christ and After Hours. He talks about how he used the low Budget to his advantage. Naturally, most people start with a low budget, limited time, and fewer resources. However, this doesn’t mean your film will only be of low quality.
- Working With Crew
“There are two kinds of power you have to fight. The first is the money, and that's just our system. The other is the people close around you, knowing when to accept their criticism, knowing when to say no.”
No matter how big your crew is, it’s essential to have a good relationship with each of them. The crew is what contributes towards the outcome of a film, and Martin explains how to influence each member of the crew.
Martin says you should have an inner circle among your crew members who you can trust. When you have a solid relationship among these crew members, a certain pace is followed on the set, and this ensures a smooth working environment as well.
- Editing Part 1 & 2
“Sometimes, when you're heavy into the shooting or editing of a picture, you get to the point where you don't know if you could ever do it again.”
This Editing lesson is parted into two sections. He states that Editing is what brings life to a film. He talks about editing as a form of magic and what kind of qualities you should look for in an editor. He also talks about the constant development in editing technology and how it has impacted filmmakers.
He talks about how it’s crucial to be in sync with your editor, someone who knows exactly which scene qualifies to be in the film and which doesn’t. This teaches filmmakers an important lesson – you will, at some point, have to cut the scenes you love.
- Color & Black and White
“You gotta understand, when moving images first started, people wanted to sound, color, big screen, and depth.”
In this lesson, Martin talks about the history of color in cinema. He also talks about how he decides the colors in his film. He talks about how the use of a distinct color can set the nature of a film. He talks about how various films impacted how he views colors in films.
He also talks about how a black and white color scheme can be used to your advantage. He explains his thought process of how he concluded making Raging Bull in black and white. Despite the evolution of colors in today’s films, he talks about how he yearns for black and white to an extent.
- The Importance Of Sound Design
“The most important thing is, how can I move forward towards something that I can't articulate, that is new in storytelling with moving images and sound?”
In this lesson, Martin talks about his strategies in sound design. He states that when you’re making a film, you should have an intention of cutting down the sounds rather than adding them. Despite sounds being a critical portrayal of a film, he talks about how it’s important to have only necessary sounds.
- The Power Of Music
“Popular music formed the soundtrack of my life.”
Musical scores have always been essential parts of a story. They have the power to set a specific tone, create tension, and amplify emotions in the audience.
In this lesson, Martin talks about how musical scores assist in how a character is portrayed in his films. He states how he begins to truly feel the film once the music starts playing. He shares his tips on the use of music while filming.
- Promoting Your Film
“Your job is to get your audience to care about your obsessions.”
The success of your film also depends on your strategies to promote it. In this lesson, Martin talks about some of the promotional tactics he practiced for his films. He also talks about how important it is to have a target audience and how to identify them.
He gives an idea of how to use negative reviews of the film to your advantage and promote it even better by giving the example of Bonnie and Clyde, a movie that was destroyed by the New York Times. After the director had used them to his advantage, the New York gave a positive review about the film, which amplified the audience.
He talks about the importance of posters, publicity campaigns, etc.
- Scene Discussions
In this lesson, Martin presents discussions and breakdowns of different scenes, namely, Barry Lyndon, Out Of The Past, Jules and Jim, Vertigo, and 8 ½.
He talks about how strategies used in these films helped him get inspiration for his own work. He’s talked about various aspects, including voice-overs, light, shadows, camera tilts, frames, music effects, angles, shots, as well as camera movements.
- Finding Your Way
“Any film, or to me any creative endeavor, no matter who you’re working with, is, in many cases, a wonderful experience.”
Martin ends the lessons with some words of wisdom to motivate you. First, he talks about how to not fall victim to generalizations and limitations in the film industry.
He explains how important it is to not lose your inner-spark, despite the circumstances. Finally, he explains how there are no secrets to filmmaking; everything you need is within your reach.
Martin Scorsese Masterclass: Price
The Masterclass is $15/month which will be billed annually. It can be accessed on various devices.
Is it worthwhile?
I think the course is worthwhile, considering that you’re getting the advice from Martin himself. However, if you’re already investing in an all-access plan, you’ll undoubtedly feel that it’s more cost-effective if you take up new classes often and make good use of your membership.
Martin Scorsese Masterclass Review: Why is it worth the hype?
Who can benefit from this course?
Most of the course is theory-based. Although there isn’t a specific demographic to who this course is meant for, it’s generally directed towards those who know film studies to a certain extent.
It isn’t very technical, so anyone wanting a piece of advice from such a unique, Oscar-winning personality can benefit from it. I feel that you can even use this course as a jump-start before you dive more deeply into film studies, or you can do it alongside your university course.
That being said, Martin views filmmaking as a passion rather than work. So you can do this course if you want to be an independent filmmaker or if you’re studying the course academically. Either way, you’ll have some great insights into the secrets and strategies when it comes to filmmaking.
One of the lessons also focuses on low-budget films. So if you’re someone who’s just starting, this course is greatly beneficial for you.
My Experience: What I Have Learned So Far
I had a great time doing the course. Despite the course being theory-based, his use of examples of various films was a good learning experience for me. A lot of clips were used in the duration of the course, and this helped me in understanding a certain topic better, as I’m a person who learns better with visualization.
What I also like about the course is how Martin also talks about how you can use negativity, restrictions, and limitations to your advantage. He’s focused on various timelines and evolutions in filmmaking without degrading the old technologies and strategies. He truly appreciates the history of cinema, and I think that’s important as a filmmaker, even in modern cinema.
Quality Of The Lessons: Is It Reliable?
Without a doubt, Martin has covered a wide range of topics and provided satisfactory insights in every lesson. He’s started with strategies to finding what kind of story you want to tell, and also discussed how to promote a film.
In each lesson, he’s provided various examples, and tips from personal experiences. As the course doesn’t focus on technical aspects a lot, it’s also viewed more like an interview rather than an academic course.
Regardless, the quality of each lesson was good enough for me to understand how a certain process works, what to do, what NOT to do, and when to do it.
When it comes to the technical aspects of the course, the video lessons are of very high quality. The course is offered in multiple languages. The workbook has been advantageous to me alongside the course. The PDF provided is extensive and covers a wide range of content, including Martin’s filmography as well as his recommendations for better analysis.
The courses aren’t that difficult. I’d say the course is good for someone who has at least 30%-50% knowledge of the filmmaking industry. However, there are certain technical aspects that Martin has covered which are a little difficult to understand for someone who doesn’t have filmmaking as a profession.
Final Thoughts On Martin Scorsese MasterClass
I hope I was able to help you decide on whether or not to take this course. That being said, I can assure you that this course is worth your time. I’ve learned so many things about filmmaking and also learned various strategies from Martin Scorsese himself, with minimal cost.
As someone who isn’t from a film studies background, Martin’s quality of lessons, his choice of words, has helped me gain vital knowledge of the film industry. I’m certain that the course is interesting and it might even make you consider making filmmaking your profession and pursue further studies.
The content is professional yet worded in an easy manner. The only drawback to this course is that it’s mostly theoretical and doesn’t provide enough practical and technical knowledge required for filmmaking. However, it provides just enough for the cost you’ve paid and the time you’ve invested.
Regardless, this course is great for anyone who has a passion for filmmaking. Without further ado, get started! Do let us know below in the comments what you liked about the course.
Faqs On Martin Scorsese MasterClass
What is the duration of the Martin Scorsese Masterclass?
The course has 30 video lessons. The total run-time is 4 hours 35 minutes.
Do you need previous knowledge of filmmaking for this course?
Anyone passionate about filmmaking can do the course. However, at least some knowledge of the terms used in filmmaking is important. You can do this course as a beginner.
Does the course offer refunds?
The Masterclass All-access plan provides refunds before 30 days depending on the billing cycle.