Unveiling the Art of Filmmaking: 5 Lessons from Martin Scorsese

By Chris Wells
Nov 22, 2023
4 minute read
Scorsese on set directing a film

Welcome to a journey through the lens of Martin Scorsese, a masterly movie maestro whose name echoes through the halls of cinematic history. Even if you’ve never seen his work, chances are you’ve heard of them or, at the very least, know what he thinks of superhero films.




In these five timeless lessons from Scorsese, we invite you, the aspiring filmmakers and editing enthusiasts, to embrace the art of storytelling. And what better time to start than now, with our Black Friday sale offering a phenomenal half-price off one of the core tools in his tool belt: Lightworks.


Whether you're taking your first steps in video editing or honing your skills, these insights, coupled with the prowess of Lightworks, will aid you in mastering the art of filmmaking.


Seize the Power of Obsession


The Early Beginnings of a Film Enthusiast

Martin Scorsese's journey began with a childhood illness that left him bed-bound, and that idleness enabled his early obsession with cinema, laying the foundation for his groundbreaking career. This was long before the endless choices of streaming services, so he watched whatever he could get. 

Following his example, we encourage you to immerse yourself in the world of film, even ones you may not have heard of before (especially those!). Let curiosity guide your learning and creativity. You never know; you may even find a new hidden gem! 


Translating Passion into Practice

Channelling your passion into your projects is essential; it’s the fuel that keeps you moving even when times are tough. As Scorsese recently told Sky News: "To be on a movie set or on a location, to be involved in the production, you have to want to do it. It has to be something that you're burning to say." Find what you’re burning to say and make it into a story.


Embrace the Importance of Character Development


Crafting Complex Characters

Scorsese's films are renowned for exploring complex and conflicted characters, individuals grappling with internal struggles, moral dilemmas, and the harsh realities of life. From the conflicted Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull to the enigmatic Howard Hughes in The Aviator, his characters are a study of complexity. 

His characters, brought to life through his signature style, continue to fascinate and challenge audiences, leaving an indelible mark on cinema as we know it. Find the nuance in your characters, even the villains, to tell a more multifaceted story with emotional depth.



Harness the Strength of Collaboration


Building Creative Partnerships

Scorsese is famous for his repeated collaborations, especially with actors like Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, not to mention his lifelong editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, highlighting the importance of teamwork in filmmaking. Emulate this spirit by engaging with fellow creatives, sharing ideas, and building upon each other's strengths. 


A Master’s Tool In Your Reach

Thelma Schoonmaker, the acclaimed editor behind many of Scorsese's most successful works, including the recent "Killers of the Flower Moon," showcases the power of using Lightworks in professional filmmaking. Her multi-oscar-winning editing has crafted compelling scenes and iconic cinematic experiences. 

This was the part where we originally talked about our Black Friday sale, but unfortunately finished on November 30th, 2023. You can still get started on Lightworks for free right now! Start your journey in exceptional film editing today and craft your own masterpieces, just like Schoonmaker.



Scorsese Directing Killers of the Flower Moon


Master the Language of Editing


The Art of Storytelling Through Editing

Martin Scorsese's masterful use of montages in his films has become a hallmark of his cinematic style, serving as a powerful tool to convey emotions, condense time, and shape the narrative. His montages often juxtapose contrasting images and sounds, creating a frenetic energy that mirrors his characters' heightened emotions and fast-paced lives. 

Scorsese's montages are not mere visual spectacles but integral to the storytelling, providing a visceral counterpoint to the spoken word. They condense time, allowing him to skip over lengthy periods of exposition and jump-cups to pivotal moments, creating a sense of urgency and immediacy. This technique showcases Scorsese's unique ability to engage viewers, making them feel a part of the film's world. 

Try this kind of compelling storytelling yourself and find scenes that could be turned into a montage, using tools like Lightworks to experiment with and perfect your montage creations.


Showing Where It Hurts

The fight sequences in Raging Bull are a masterclass in editing to create a strong response from the audience. Using a combination of slow motion, close-ups, and sound effects makes a sense of realism and immediacy. The editing is so effective that it can be challenging to watch, but it is also essential to the film's impact (after all, being a boxer hurts!) 

Scorsese uses these techniques to portray a specific moment and make it resonate. Experiment with different editing techniques in your projects, discovering how each cut and transition can alter your work's narrative and emotional impact.




Find Your Authentic Voice


Trusting The Audience

A deep exploration of themes like crime, redemption, faith, and the human condition is a defining characteristic of Martin Scorsese's body of work. These ongoing themes express his authentic voice in filmmaking. He always asks the questions he wants answered, a unique signature that resonates throughout his diverse filmography. In movies such as "Taxi Driver," "The Departed," and "Silence," Scorsese delves into the complexities of his characters and the worlds they inhabit. 

They often challenge audiences, but this approach enriches the storytelling with the actual variety of the human experience and invites the audience to judge themselves about the story's morals. Work to find what questions you want to explore in your films. You don’t need the answer to start; you simply need a direction to investigate.



In this exploration of Martin Scorsese's cinematic genius, we've uncovered a tiny bit of what makes his films timeless. From his early obsession with cinema to his masterful character development and innovative editing techniques, Scorsese's approach to filmmaking teaches us the importance of passion, collaboration, and finding one's own voice. 

As we conclude this journey through Scorsese's lens, remember that these lessons are not just for appreciation but for application. Seize the opportunity to harness the power of Lightworks for free, the same tool used by Scorsese’s collaborators in crafting iconic films and embark on your path to creating impactful, memorable films. 

Embrace these lessons, utilise Lightworks, and step into filmmaking with the spirit of a master. Your cinematic story awaits.