Martin Scorsese on visual literacy

Martin Scorsese

Around the time I finished putting together the screen-specific commentary from McTiernan, I’ve coincidentally found a superb video which is about the same topic I am putting my heart & soul into analyzing and understanding as a young filmmaker. When we watch films – at least from personal experience – I may have never paid attention to how various shots, and camera movements affect us psychologically and emotionally. In reality, there’s great thought that goes into everything you see, and when you begin to catch onto these things – film experience in general just hits another level.

Essentially, what you hear in that video is what you’ll be seeing and hearing more of through this blog. I want to focus only on visual language, at least the bulk of it will be based around visual storytelling.


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4 thoughts on “Martin Scorsese on visual literacy

  1. I’ve been a big fan of VISUAL LITERACY, actually, a year or two before I got into film school. I really stumbled upon it like a lot of my big creative jumps; but once I did dive into it in my editing classes — I realized where it had it’s origins: SUNDAY MORNING COMIC PAGES. From about 4 years of age. After the SUNDAY FUNNIES, comics, graphic novels and movies followed very fast and I saw stories told to me visually, because I ignored the dialogue balloons and spoken dialogue in movies did not grip me as well as a real strong and cool-looking shot did…BUT ONLY IN THE CONTEXT of the scene, and overall movie itself. I think, that starting off as a writer first and foremost, keeps me grounded in the foundation of the story being as strong, if not stronger than everything else, including: directing, acting cinematography and editing.
    And being a “primal”, visually – driven narrative screenwriter first and foremost ( I will be going back to writing fiction soon), the film language is just second nature now and isn’t about writing shooting – production scripts. It really is having this knowledge thru a combo of natural talent and learned education – experiences, which kick into gear when I have blank pages…and those two, magical words hit me like a ton of bricks: WHAT IF?

    • Indeed. I think it’s important for any serious filmmaker to be well versed in both; writing and visual literacy, especially useful if you’re a one-man-crew where you don’t have the necessary help from a screenwriter. I think I remember Tarantino once talking about how the experience of taking acting classes early on helped him be a better screenwriter – in essence, you can be a better director, writer, and cinematographer if you also UNDERSTAND other aspects of the filmmaking process. So naturally posessing a sense of great visual literacy and a knack for good writing/storytelling experience you can fuse the two masterfully and alleviate a lot of the DOUBT that comes with the process, quiet the inner voice that says “Am I doing this right???”

  2. Yup and more yup. Totally right on this “well versed – ness” necessity. I actually acted for the first time since I was 8…about 1 1/2 years ago. It was an experimental play version of the movie CLOCKWORK ORANGE. I played two roles. And I was scared shitless…gave it my best and still had much to learn. But, I only did it for one reason: to finally understand what the actors really go through. Especially on the stage. There’s no time for stopping. It’s on and on. And believe me, not being able to direct it got to me at times…but it was really a great, and humbling experience to go through. Working with an expert cinematog. is a better way for me to go, because I’m really wearing enough hats as it is, but it’s such a great education to know enough to at least “talk shop” with your collaborators. As long as everyone knows and accepts…you can only have one, singular vision on a movie to make it truly a complete whole.

  3. Reblogged this on Design O’ Saur and commented:
    Posted by a young filmmaker, this post about Martin Scorsese on visual literacy is good. I wanted to keep the interview for myself, and then I thought that It is part of my journey as a young graphic designer. Scorsese says that “so much of today’s society is done visually”… so true. Great Post!

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