Martin Scorsese took the opportunity to pass on some of his acclaimed cinema knowledge to a student of film, guiding the young creative through an emphatic list of some of his favourite foreign films.
A few years ago young filmmaker Colin Levy spent hours in the editing room of his high school, completing his five-minute short film which would go on to win him the national YoungArts award. The prize for winning such an award was a sit down one-on-one meeting with Taxi Driver and Raging Bull filmmaker Scorsese.
Remembering the moment, Levy wrote an article on his blog describing it as: “It was a defining moment in my path as a filmmaker,” while admitting that personal tour of Scorsese’s office, editing bays and more came as a huge shock to the system. “Martin Scorsese was intimidating, to say the least. But very jovial, very talkative, and he took me seriously. (Or convinced me, at least.) I pretty much kept my mouth shut,” Levy continued to explain in his blog post.
“Every 30 seconds he would mention an actor, producer, director or film title I had never heard of before. I was stunned just to be in his presence. He liked my film, he said. “How did you do the little creatures?” I tried to explain how I figured out the basics of 3D animation. His eyes lit up and he started talking about the digital effects in The Aviator.The juxtaposition of scales was overpowering.”
Levy added: “I felt like I was in a movie. Why he spent so much time with me I do not know, but it was amazing just to be in his presence. A few weeks afterwards I labored over a thank-you card, in which I expressed the overwhelming impression I had gotten that I don’t know enough about anything. I specially don’t know enough about film history and foreign cinema. I asked if he had any suggestions for where to start.”
Levy would walk away from the surreal experience of meeting his idol with a sense of dreamlike wonder. While it was a meeting that would determine his dream to become a filmmaker, the information overload was too difficult to consume. A couple weeks later, albeit randomly, Scorsese’s assistant contacted Levy to explain that Scorsese had compiled a list of his favourite 39 foreign film and a handful of books: “Mr. Scorsese asked that I send this your way,” his assistant wrote. “This should be a jump start to your film education!”
Scorsese’s list includes some classics likes Metropolis and Bicycle Thief which is wide-ranging. Perhaps surprisingly, the filmmaker decided to leave out big names such as Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman but did reference Japanese post-war films and included three pictures created by the great Akira Kurosawa.