Over the years, Martin Scorsese has earned a reputation as a consummate filmmaker, an obsessive perfectionist who lives and breathes cinema. In these two commercials the famed director moves to the front of the camera to make fun of his own manic perfectionism.
In 2003 Scorsese was asked to play himself in a commercial for American Express (see above), which was one of the sponsors of the Tribeca Film Festival. In keeping with his reputation for fastidiousness, Scorsese demanded to see a resume and show reel from veteran commercial director Jim Jenkins before agreeing to the shoot. “It’s like Kobe Bryant asking for your basketball credentials,” Jenkins told Stefano Hatfield at Advertising Age. “What are you gonna say? I once directed Tonya Harding in a Fox Sports commercial?”
Scorsese apparently liked what he saw, because Jenkins was hired. The shoot took place in a Los Angeles drugstore during a single day. “The main challenge,” wrote Hatfield in his article, “was to get Mr. Scorsese to speak as quickly as we all think he does. He actually had to be coaxed into that machine-gun delivery we have all come to expect of him. While it is entirely credible that this perfectionist would have his nephew stage a party all over again for a better shoot, Mr. Scorsese admitted that he hadn’t actually collected a roll of film from a drugstore for 15 years.”
Jenkins and Scorsese teamed up again for a 2008 AT&T commercial that was shown in theaters to encourage movie-goers to silence their phones. It shows Scorsese barging into the home of a mother and her young son and proceeding to direct a private phone call. The message: “We won’t interrupt your phone calls. Please don’t interrupt our movies.” Scorsese was originally expected to direct the commercial, according to Jenkins, but decided just to act in it. “Obviously he’s a natural actor,” Jenkins said of Scorsese in an interview with Creativity-online. “But he was nervous. He just wanted it to be funny. He said, ‘I can’t know if it’s funny. Just make it funny.’ ”
You can watch the commercial below to decide for yourself whether it’s funny. And be sure to come back tomorrow, when we feature an imaginative commercial directed by Scorsese himself.