PostED ON 16.10.2015 AT 5:30PM
SELECTED EXCERPTS - On Friday, October 16 at 3pm, maestro Martin Scorsese gave a highly anticipated master class at the Célestins Theatre. As usual, the director has several projects underway, including Vinyl, a very 70s rock television series produced with Mick Jagger, and Silence, a film inspired by the book of the same name.
So Marty, you talkin' to me?
Martin Scorsese receives a standing ovation as soon as he takes the stage. He begins with his childhood, explaining it as the root of what he has become. "Everything comes back to knowledge, and in my childhood, it was the window of cinema that was proposed to me. Seeing movies helped open my world to culture in general, to dance, music..."
He brings up the need to pass on knowledge (his wife and his daughter Francesca are also present in the theater): "As a child, I was an asthmatic little boy. Doctors said, "Don't let him go outside, don't let him climb trees" (fortunately there were no trees on Elizabeth street where I lived), and forbade me from playing in the street. So my parents took me to the movies. And given this asthma situation, we had the privilege of having a TV set from 1948. I could therefore discover Children of Paradise, La Belle et la bête or films by Rossellini and de Sica thanks to the Italian cinema series on Friday nights. There were only two TV channels, and the same black and white movies were shown over and over again. In the 1950s, we discovered La Strada by Fellini, Bergman's Seventh Seal... an extraordinary film every week, even including the Nouvelle Vague."
"It was also the discovery of a new language, like Andy Warhol's, which redefined our vocabulary, although I admit, Andy Warhol was not really my cup of 'soup,'" he chuckles.
"After New York New York, I saw him quite a lot, but I've never really understood everything. That was my little period of glitz and showbiz, but right afterwards, The Last Waltz (1978) changed me, then Raging Bull (1980). After that time, Altman and I realized we were entering a difficult period. He had to wait for The Player (1992) to find success and I had to wait until The Color of Money (1986). Incidentally, while we were leaving a party one evening, Warhol told me that things were not as funny as before! And that was our last conversation! It was a different world, straight out of the 1960s.
Thierry Frémaux asks "Marty, are you a survivor?"
"Yes I think so, when I look at my career. Even though I have this same desire to make films, I lost out in terms of my personal life. I was lucky to maintain relationships with people I was on the same wavelength with, who supported me because they wanted to see these types of movies on the screen, which allowed me to overcome terrible dry spells, like between 1982 and 1987, whereas many filmmakers were no longer supported in the 1980s."
On his "status" as an auteur, an independent filmmaker
"Somehow, I emerged from the independent scene in New York but I didn't live in Greenwich Village, I was not a bohemian. I didn't live in the village and I came from a Sicilian family from Little Italy, the provincial pocket New York. Cassavetes, who was making Shadows (1959) played the role of a key person, he was the source of the flame. And in 1961, as a student at NYU (New York University), a particular teacher made me believe that I could make movies. It's ironic because I always thought I would be a Hollywood director, but that's not why I became. Even when I make films in the tradition of gangsters films, it's not Scarface, it's not Public Enemy..."
"I tried to make Hollywood movies, to make The Aviator a major production, even though I put in certain dramatic flourishes. Then, I made The Departed, which for some reason, brought the house down and picked up the Oscar. The Departed was mostly an opportunity to make a kind of last commentary on the underworld, on violence and that whole universe, and of course I wanted the investors to recover their costs. I never thought this movie would receive such a warm welcome like the one I felt at the Oscars."
On the different steps of making a film
"Faire du cinéma c'est écrire, monter etc... mais mon étape préférée ça a toujours été le montage, ça remonte au gamin asthmatique que j'étais. Ca fait un peu Los olvidados, "le petit gamin pauvre qui ne pouvait pas faire grand chose d'autre que de rester dans sa chambre", mais c'est proche de la réalité de l'époque. Quand j'étais seul dans ma chambre, j'inventais des histoires en assemblant des images, des dessins coupés dans les journaux, et j'apprenais ainsi le vocabulaire d'une narration. Je retrouve cela dans la phase de montage, comme quand je travaille avec Thelma, ma précieuse monteuse. On est dans un rapport d'intimité unique avec l'image, et c'est à ce moment-là qu'on fabrique le film."
"For Goodfellas (1990), I used my own knowledge of this milieu of gangsters. After Mean Streets (1973), which was completely autobiographical, it was the next step. Goodfellas is really a work that examines the inner dimension of these people, the positions they take. We really tried to recreate that environment, even if it we got blacklisted by some Italian restaurants in New York, and we were accused of glamorizing crime. We didn't even ask ourselves that question. It was rather: 'Why is crime attractive?' I raised this issue again in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)."
On his musical influences (rock, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, the Stones...). When will you make a documentary on Bruce Springsteen? Succinct response: Say no more!
On his rich and varied film production, and the restorations he handles as part of the Film Foundation...
"I'm in very good company. My editor, Thelma helps me tremendously, she's the driving force, and we do editing at home. Director David Tedeschi has helped me out on several projects, such as No Direction Home… Margaret Bodde at the Film Foundation... my assistant Lisa, my manager in LA who always has bad news for me...! My daughter, Francesca, can vouch for the fact that we're always in our little bubble at home. So occasions like these, like the Lumière festival, are real opportunities to see people who are dear to me, because otherwise I lack time."
On his film project Silence
"It took me ten years to work on the script and even when I'd finished writing it in 2006, there was an extremely long legal process in order to obtain the rights to the book. We found out only after Hugo (2011) that the film was going to be made."
And the next film with Bob de Niro?
"It's in the works, the film will be called The Irishman, but we're trying to take our time and find funding," which doesn't fail to surprise Thierry Frémaux who asks, 'Don't tell me it's difficult to find funding for a Scorsese film with Robert de Niro!" to which Martin Scorsese replies, "It's always the same story. Once you stick to a story, what you want has to coincide with the people who help you make the film. So we must be sure of that!"