In 1991 French filmmaker and sometime actor André Labarthe released The Scorsese Machine, a cinema verité documentary featuring oodles of interesting footage of Scorsese living his life, interacting with his mother, and editing “Life Lessons” (his contribution to the omnibus movie New York Stories), and so on. Some enterprising Scorsese fan has isolated the 13 minutes of the movie in which Scorsese is in the editing room with his editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and the result is surprisingly engaging.
In the clip, Scorsese has lunch with his hero and friend Michael Powell, debates with Schoonmaker over whether an Eric Clapton solo or Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” should serve as the music for a scene, describes how his editing room became a “bunker” after the controversy over Scorsese’s 1988 The Last Temptation of Christ broke, gushes over the movies he’s recently seen on Ted Turner’s “new” cable channel TNT, and explains some salient details from his childhood, most of which will be familiar to Scorsese fans. Scorsese is well known as a big talker, and he addresses the documentary crew constantly, asking them about Godard’s 1963 movie Le Petit Soldat, among other subjects. Scorsese refers to the “LEM” equipment that Schoonmaker, her back almost always to the camera, is continuously laboring on—film editors will recognize the acronym as standing for “Lightworks editing machine.”
The entire movie is available on YouTube in seven parts, or you can just watch the editing-related clips below: