Learn from the master: This is how Martin Scorsese directs his movies

Tips & Techniques

If you’re a filmmaker and look up to Martin Scorsese, you’ll love this video. StudioBinder brings you five key elements of Scorsese’s directing in a fun video showing excerpts from his movies and various interviews. It’s a great source of inspiration and an opportunity to learn some tricks from a directing master.

Scorsese uses different cinematic techniques, and he always uses them with a purpose. He wants to make an emotional and psychological point and to tell a story to his viewers. In the video above, there are five key techniques you’ll see in Scorsese’s movies, explained and shown through examples:

  1. Use your roots: Scorsese relies on his Italian-American background and on his rots. He draws from them and shows them in his movies because it’s the world familiar and close to him.
  2. Characters on the edge: Scorsese is “never interested in the villain or the hero” as Thelma Schoonmaker puts it. “He’s interested in where most people are, which is in the middle.” This is the approach I personally always find the most appealing, not only in movies but also in TV shows and books. In the words of Anthony Burgess, “it is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil,” and this is something that makes characters in Scorsese’s movies so complex and relatable.
  3. Build authentic worlds: make sure that you create believable worlds when building sets and choosing costumes. Scorsese pays a lot of attention to details to recreate the past times and different cultures as authentically as possible. Even violence in his movies is raw, believable and hence difficult to watch – just like it is in real life.
  4. Have the music in mind: as you plan the scenes, have the music in mind. Scorsese says that it comes intuitively, and for him, the music is always tied to the camera shots. Music adds a lot to the scene, and it’s definitely something to pay attention to.
  5. Direct the edit: it’s up to you as a director to guide the audience’s eye and make them feel what you want them to feel. Because of this, plan the edit ahead, and direct the edit to get the final result exactly as you wanted.

These are only some techniques the great Martin Scorsese uses to make his movies so powerful. There is, of course, so much more to making a good movie, but I believe this video is a great place to start. It should serve as an inspiration and a sort of a guideline what to have in mind when making your own movies. And if you’d like to learn even more, make sure to read StudioBinder’s blog post on Scorsese’s film school.

[How Martin Scorsese Directs a Movie | The Director’s Chair | StudioBinder]

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