Shoot Like Scorsese by Christopher Kenworthy (book review).

No, ‘Shoot Like Scorsese’ has nothing to do with weapons, unless you consider a film camera as being one. Christopher Kenworthy picks out ten scenes from eight of Martin Scorsese films and explains the techniques used to get the most from his actors and emotional content. Kenworthy recommends you see the films before reading but, although I haven’t seen them all, I got enough information from the text and photographs to see what he’s getting at but then, I’m intensely visual. Working out what is Scorsese’s direction signature is would be a lot tougher because as Kenworthy points out, a lot of his techniques are used by TV directors. Personally, I can’t see the difference. A good technique isn’t exclusive to any one medium let alone any one person.


Amongst the techniques shown is how to pay attention to the character’s dilemma but not necessarily have them in the foreground doing so. There is also the matter of paying attention to the surroundings behind and in front of the acting to add dimensionality. Seeing a scene from ‘The Departed’ where it is the reaction of the other characters to the developing events isn’t particularly new but seen here used at different times in the same setting adds a different level.

Although this book is actually something of a brief read since half of its pages are made up of photos, I’m sure you aspiring directors will spend a lot longer over the techniques employed here. Those of you interested in drawing and writing for comics might also benefit from understanding how to make the best of your scene and add emotional impact as the techniques also apply there as well.

GF Willmetts

December 2015

(pub: Michael Wiese Productions. 132 page illustrated small enlarged paperback. Price: $15.95 (US), £10.53 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-61593-232-0)

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