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Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking MasterClass Review

If you’re interested in taking Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass, check out our honest review of the course and discover its benefits and potential drawbacks.

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Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking: Our Verdict (2023)

COURSE Rating

4.5 / 5

Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass covers a wide range of topics related to filmmaking, from finding the story to costume design and editing. This renowned director also talks about his career, influences, and lessons he learned throughout his rich career. Therefore, this MasterClass is great for admirers of Scorsese’s work as well as anyone interested in the art of filmmaking.

Pros

  • Learning from an iconic filmmaker
  • A variety of topics
  • Great scene discussions

Cons

  • The pacing could be better

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Martin Scorsese has been around for quite some time now. And judging by his latest movie, Killers of the Flower Moon, he is still capable of surprising his audience.

As one of the most respected filmmakers of all time, Scorsese certainly has many secrets to share. The moment I found out that he was on MasterClass, I knew I would take his class sooner or later.

I can say I am a movie fan, and I also took a couple of film courses during my studies.  So, of course, I wanted to see what Martin Scorsese has to say about filmmaking.

Now, did his MasterClass meet my expectations, and who would I recommend it to?

I’ll tell you everything about my experience and key takeaways from the course in the next paragraphs.

Table of Contents

What is the Martin Scorsese MasterClass?

Martin Scorsese teaches Filmmaking” is an online course offered by MasterClass, a subscription-based platform known for offering video-based classes taught by experts in the field.  

Martin Scorsese is an American award-winning director and actor. He is known for his movies Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, and The Wolf of Wall Street, just to name a few.

Scorsese’s experience, knowledge, and brilliant creative mind make him a perfect instructor for a filmmaking course. His MasterClass turned out to be a blend of practical tips, stories from Scorsese’s life, and scene discussions.

It’s a fantastic course for anyone who wants to pursue a career in film and learn more about one of the best directors of our era.

There are 30 lessons with a duration of 4 hours and 33 minutes in total. It’s a rather lengthy, comprehensive course, so it’s probably best to take it in chunks.   

the MasterClass instructor, Martin Scorsese
The MasterClass instructor, Martin Scorsese

Who is Martin Scorsese?

Martin Scorsese is an American filmmaker and actor who emerged in the New Hollywood era. He was raised in the neighborhood of Little Italy, which later provided the inspiration for several of his films.

He received an Academy Award for The Departed in 2006, 3 BAFTA awards for Goodfellas in 1990, and 4 Golden Globes as Best Director. His other critically acclaimed movies include Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wolf Street, Taxi Driver, and The Irishman.

Scorsese is also the founder and chair of The Film Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of motion picture history.

What is the target audience for Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass?

Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass covers a lot of ground. Lessons are primarily focused on the theory of film, and Martin provides many historical cinema facts. Therefore, his MasterClass is geared towards aspiring directors and film enthusiasts.

As Martin says at the beginning of the course, if you need to make movies, this course is for you. It’s not for those who aren’t sure whether making movies is something they want to do.

And I agree – you really have to be into film to enjoy this class. There are many technical, field-specific terms that may be a bit confusing or overwhelming for casual learners and other creatives. But for film students and movie buffs, Martin’s lessons are a real treat.

To sum things up, here are some of the people who would benefit the most from this MasterClass:

  • Aspiring filmmakers
  • Admirers of Scorsese’s work
  • Film enthusiasts

What does Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass cover?

As mentioned before, this is a lengthy course that covers a variety of topics related to film and directing.

Martin is a great teacher, but he does tend to move his thoughts in different directions during lessons. Consequently, his MasterClass is a mixture of the history of cinema, the theory of film, Martin’s experiences, and short scene discussions.

Martin also provides numerous filmmaking tips. Although his advice seems to be honest, it can also be somewhat vague.

Nevertheless, this course has plenty to offer, and if you want to enter the film industry, it’s definitely worth taking.

To give you a better idea of what to expect from the course in terms of content, here is a quick overview of all the lessons:

  • Lesson 1 is an introductory lesson where Martin introduces himself and the course.
  • Lessons 2-3 cover Martin’s early influences, education, and the beginning of his career.
  • Lessons 4-6 include Martin’s advice on how to channel your influences, develop your own style, and discover your process.
  • Lesson 7 is dedicated to directing and technology and how to blend the two during your creative process.
  • Lesson 8 is about ideas, stories, and inspiration.
  • Lessons 9-12 are focused on different parts of making films, including working with the script, casting and directing actors, and finding locations.
  • Lessons 13-15 move forward with the filmmaking process and cover production design, costume design, and cinematography.
  • Lesson 16 is about low-budget filmmaking.
  • Lesson 17 is about working with crew and the differences between working with core, small, and big crew.
  • Lessons 18-19 cover the editing process.
  • Lessons 20-23 contain Martin’s tips and his opinion regarding color, sound design, and music.
  • Lesson 24 is dedicated to the promotion of movies.
  • Lessons 25-29 are short scene discussions from various movies.
  • Lesson 30 is the final lesson, where Martin shares his parting words of wisdom and encouragement.

My favorite lessons from Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass

I generally enjoyed Martin’s MasterClass. Although it’s long, and some parts could be a bit more condensed, it’s interesting and relatively easy to follow.

Martin offers practical advice, but it also encourages learners to find their own way. 

I also enjoyed scene discussions. They were very short, but they were a nice refreshment after theory-heavy, rather static lessons.

All things considered, I think this course has many captivating, insightful lessons.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

Discovering your process

Martin Scorsese explaining the importance of discovering your own creative process
Martin Scorsese explaining how you need to discover your own process

Although there are some rules that you need to be aware of, if you want to make movies, you need to discover your own process. Textbooks will give you facts, but you need to use your own judgment to decide whether something is good or bad.

The power of music

Exploring various approaches to incorporating music in film
There are different ways you can approach music in film

Martin Scorsese likes traditional scores, but he also likes to explore different methods and non-traditional scores. Music serves as part of the spiritual lives of his characters, so he approaches it with a lot of thought.

In this interesting lesson, Martin also talks about how music in film has changed over the years.

Scene discussion: Barry Lyndon

A scene from Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick’s historical drama film

I particularly liked scene discussion lessons. They were short and immersive, and Martin’s point was always clear.

In this lesson, he discussed a scene from Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, with an aim to show how natural lighting and pacing can enhance the period-specific settings and the power of the moment.

How much does the MasterClass cost?

MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, so it’s not possible to purchase courses individually. If you want to take this MasterClass, you have to become a subscriber.

Annual plans are typically available at $120 a year (which makes it $10 per month, billed annually) for the Individual plan, providing access to MasterClass courses on one device, $180 a year for the Duo plan (two devices), and $240 a year for the Family plan (six devices).

A MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 180+ classes, so if you want to take multiple classes throughout the year, the subscription is definitely worth it, and there are pleny of interesting courses on related topics to explore.

Also, the platform offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.

Note that MasterClass is currently running an end-of-year special offer which gives you 40% off your annual membership – as MasterClass rarely gives any discounts to speak of, I would recommend you take advantage of this beore it expires.

What I liked about Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass

As Martin points out at the beginning of the course, this MasterClass is for those who feel a strong need to make movies. Well, even though I’m not a director or a film student, I’m glad I had a chance to take this course.

On the other hand, I did feel a bit overwhelmed and lost from time to time. There’s a ton of information, facts, and side stories, so it’s sometimes hard to stay focused. This is one of those MasterClasses where I felt like a real student.

That being said, this is not a course for casual learners who want to find out a thing or two about making movies. But I would recommend it to anyone who is passionate about filmmaking, mostly for the following reasons:

Learning from an iconic filmmaker

Taking classes from one of the most respected filmmakers in the world? You don’t get that chance every day.

Martin Scorsese is by far one of the most iconic instructors on MasterClass. Some of his films are regarded as classics, and he has more than 50 years of experience.

The thing is, it’s not easy to cover the basics of filmmaking in a 5-hour online course. However, Scorsese did a tremendous job of tackling all the important topics. His mind did wander off from time to time, but those who love his work and approach probably won’t mind that.

Moreover, he seems like a very calm and friendly yet passionate person, and I felt really comfortable and relaxed during the whole course.

A variety of topics

Although this might feel a bit overwhelming for some people, there are many topics covered in this course. Martin talks about abstract parts of filmmaking, like finding ideas, as well as more practical stuff, such as editing, sound design, and casting.

In my opinion, this is a well-balanced course. But you need to keep in mind that Martin’s teaching style tends to be traditional, with lessons that include a nice portion of history, theory, and movie facts.

Great scene discussions

In the course, there are five scene discussion lessons. In these lessons, Martin breaks down scenes from various movies to talk about certain concepts such as lighting, color, sound, and voice-over.

These lessons were rather short and concise, which was a nice change from detailed and often theory-heavy 1-to-1 lessons.

Drawbacks of Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass

Although I did enjoy Martin’s MasterClass, there are some things that could make it better…

The pacing could be better

Honestly, I didn’t feel focused and engaged like I did during some other similar courses. I think the reason for this might be the slower pacing of the course.

Perhaps someone who has a MasterClass subscription can easily get used to short, concise classes. If that’s the case, Martin’s course may feel a bit too long.

Martin takes his time to approach certain topics, and there are a couple of lessons where he talks about his beginnings, education, and influences before moving on to more concrete tips, techniques, and concepts.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your personal preferences and expectations. If you’re looking for a fast-paced filmmaking course with assignments and dynamic scene breakdowns, you should perhaps look elsewhere.

Review conclusion: Is Martin Scorsese’s MasterClass worth it?

Overall, I think Martin Scorsese’s class is worth taking, especially if you’re already subscribed to MasterClass.

Even though I’m not an aspiring filmmaker, and my skills and knowledge are pretty basic, I genuinely enjoyed the course. The lessons were very insightful, and thanks to Martin’s teaching style and personality, I felt comfortable and encouraged.

Some chapters could be a bit more condensed, though. The course felt a bit slow at times, and some of Martin’s advice were somewhat vague. I expected a bit more in terms of more specific tips that I can’t find anywhere else.   

On the other hand, if you’re an aspiring filmmaker who wants to take a deep dive into the world of cinema, this MasterClass can be very beneficial. After all, it would give you a peak into the mind of one of the best filmmakers of all time, and that’s definitely something to take advantage of.

End-of-Year sale: 40% off your MasterClass annual subscription (time-limited offer)