Last September, online education company Masterclass announced that they'd soon launch Martin Scorsese's very first online course, "Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking." Now it has opened for enrollment, at the usual Masterclass cost of $90 for the individual course or $180 for an all-access pass to all the courses on the site, a list that also includes Spike Lee and Werner Herzog's takes on the same subject. For a company that has quickly made its name by enlisting famous instructors, they could hardly do better than Scorsese, whose own name has become a byword for auteurism in late 20th- and early 21st-century American cinema.
"If you're intrigued by moviemaking as a career, this isn't the class for you," Scorsese says in the class' trailer above. "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." Its 30 lessons, which cover everything from his life and education to developing a style to casting actors to shooting on a low budget, might also appeal to those who simply love Scorsese's movies.
He illustrates his instructional points by drawing on his own formidable filmography and the vast experience that has gone into it (including the physical illness that descends upon him before viewing each rough cut), a process that no doubt provides countless insights into what makes his work so powerful.
But the curriculum also goes well beyond Scorsese-on-Scorsese, as one might expect from a man unabashedly driven by a pure love of cinema — of, seemingly, all of cinema. In the final section of the course, Scorsese breaks down scenes from Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past, François Truffaut's Jules and Jim, Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, and Federico Fellini's 8 1/2, examining the technical elements that fill them with their distinctive magic. His enthusiasm has surely inspired almost as many of his fans to go into filmmaking as has his work itself, but even those who lack the burning desire to tell cinematic stories themselves know that if there's any viewing experience as compelling as watching a Scorsese movie, it's watching Scorsese talk about movies.
Note: MasterClasss and Open Culture have a partnership. If you sign up for a MasterClass course, it benefits not just you and MasterClass. It benefits Open Culture too. So consider it win-win-win.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.