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Martin Scorsese: ‘The Irishman’ Has Almost 300 Scenes, Which Made It Challenging to Storyboard

Scorsese's Netflix gangster drama is one of the biggest undertakings of his legendary career.

Martin Scorsese'Everybody Knows' premiere and opening ceremony, 71st Cannes Film Festival, France - 08 May 2018

Martin Scorsese

James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock

Martin Scorsese fans figured the director’s upcoming gangster drama “The Irishman” was one of his most ambitions undertakings to date after the budget soared over the $140 million mark during production, and now the director has revealed another massive production tidbit: “The Irishman” has almost 300 scenes. Speaking at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival (via GamesRadar), Scorsese admitted the scope of “The Irishman” prevented him from relying on his normal storyboard tactics.

“In this latest film, there are so many scenes – almost 300 scenes – and it was hard to get to location, but when I got there I’d work out the angles,” Scorsese said about relying more on day-of planning than pre-planning. “But it was primarily bringing out the actors and making the shoot comfortable. That became the mise-en-scène, for me. And that has a lot to do with ‘On The Waterfront,’ ‘East Of Eden,’ ‘Wild River.’ Beautiful films.”

The more immediate plans for directing “The Irishman” differed from Scorsese’s storyboarding tactics on “Taxi Driver,” “Mean Streets,” and “Goodfellas.” The director explained that each of these films were drawn out and storyboarded almost entirely before the cameras started rolling.

“All the boxing scenes in ‘Raging Bull’ were designed on paper,” he said. “We shot all the fight scenes first. Ten weeks. It was supposed to be three. All of ‘Taxi Driver,’ all of ‘Mean Streets.’ Primarily just because of the short schedules. I needed drawings to show to the cameraman and say, ‘This sort of thing.’ To explain how I saw it.”

Scorsese said he took inspiration from Elia Kazan and stopped relying so much on drawings for “The Irishman,” especially for the two-shot dialogue scenes. The filmmaker said it was important for those moments not be storyboarded and instead created with the actors on set.

“The Irishman” reunites Scorsese with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, plus stars Al Pacino and Ray Romano. The story centers around mobster Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, who carried out more than 25 hits and was allegedly involved in the death of mob boss Jimmy Hoffa. Scorsese is currently in post-production on the movie, which is expected to debut on Netflix in 2019.

You can read Scorsese’s entire interview with GamesRadar here.

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