Martin Scorsese isn’t just a filmmaker – he is film. “Sometimes when it all comes together … you become the film you’re making,” the revered director told T.J. English in a 1990 interview newly animated by PBS as part of the network’s Blank on Blank series.
The wide-ranging chat, brought to life by animator Patrick Smith, finds Scorsese discussing his cinematic technique in detail, starting with his appreciation for title credits. “They promise something,” he says. “Like posters, they promise something, you know? Credit sequences are sometimes more important than the movie because they present the picture a certain way.”
Scorsese says that knack for visual storytelling dates back to age eight. “I was fascinated by the Biblical spectacles or the spectacles of the ancient world,” he enthuses, describing how he created moving “frames” – or prototype storyboards – with his imagination. “They weren’t movies. They weren’t comic books. They were something in-between.”
Westerns provided another source of inspiration. “A lot of it had to do with the fact that I was here in the city,” he says. “I loved the idea of horses, and I loved the idea of open spaces, which I would never get to see. Although I was not physically made … to live that way, I had certain dreams about it.”
He also discusses attending preparatory seminary at age 14 – and how making his first short films at NYU led to the revelation that he would “fare better” making films than becoming a priest. “I didn’t set out to specifically say I would put whatever emotions or passions I had for the priesthood into filmmaking,” he says. “That happened.”