MARTIN SCORSESE ON DIRECTING
“If you’re intrigued by movie making as a career, this isn’t the class for you. But if you need to make movies, if you feel like you can’t rest until you’ve told this particular story that you’re burning to tell, then I could be speaking to you.”
This is how Martin Scorsese’s masterclass opens. And he spoke directly to me. The wisdom that he imparted in his MasterClass has had a profound effect on the way I view filmmaking. I began to see myself as a storyteller first and foremost. Everything around me became inspiration. The world around me became cinematic. I found stories that I was yearning to tell.
“If the machinery of everything seems too overwhelming, great! You get up in the morning and do it anyway.”
One of the scariest aspects of any creative field, especially filmmaking, is developing your own voice. We forget that even the greats like Scorsese had to develop a distinguished voice too. Scorsese’s advice put my mind at rest. Let your voice develop by doing, let your style naturally reveal itself over time and don’t be afraid to draw from other films and directors. I set time aside to watch films and draw inspiration, filling notebooks and SD cards. I experimented with different kinds of film, delving into styles that didn’t feel like me. The process of finding your own voice happens over time. Telling stories to refine what represents you as a filmmaker.
“The script is only the beginning.”
How do you get authentic performances? Well, why not hire non-actors who do what the character does… like Scorsese casting his mum in Goodfellas. As directors we strive for something authentic and natural, so Scorsese encourages improvisation keeping only structure to guide the story. The script is only the beginning. Spend time working with your actors, have time to fail and trust your actors so they can trust you as a director.
“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out”
Cinema is a language and like any other language you must learn the literacy by telling stories through a lens or watching them. It is what is on the screen that matters. You collaborate to create the visuals, insist on your vision but stay open. If something unexpected works, use it. If a location changes your shot list, shoot around it. A director solves hundreds of these problems each day but look at what is happening in front of you and react.