The most renowned filmmaker of his era, Martin Scorsese virtually defined the state of modern American cinema during the 1970s and '80s. A consummate storyteller and visual stylist who lived and breathed movies, he won fame translating his passion and energy into a brand of filmmaking that crackled with kinetic excitement. Working well outside of the mainstream, Scorsese nevertheless emerged in the 1970s as a towering figure throughout the industry, achieving the kind of fame and universal recognition typically reserved for more commercially successful talents. A tireless supporter of film preservation, Scorsese has worked to bridge the gap between cinema's history and future like no other director. Channeling the lessons of his inspirations -- primarily classic Hollywood, the French New Wave, and the New York underground movement of the early '60s -- into an extraordinarily personal and singular vision, he has remained perennially positioned at the vanguard of the medium, always pushing the envelope of the film experience with an intensity and courage unmatched by any of his contemporaries.
Scorsese was born on November 17, 1942, in Flushing, NY. The second child of Charles and Catherine Scorsese -- both of whom frequently made cameo appearances in their son's films -- he suffered from severe asthma, and as a result was blocked from participating in sports and other common childhood activities. Consequently, Scorsese sought refuge in area movie houses, quickly becoming obsessed with the cinema, in particular the work of Michael Powell. Raised in a devoutly Catholic environment, he initially studied to become a priest. Ultimately, however, Scorsese opted out of the clergy to enroll in film school at New York University, helming his first student effort, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?, a nine-minute short subject, in 1963. He mounted his second student picture, the 15-minute It's Not Just You, Murray!, in 1964, the year of his graduation. His next effort was 1967's brief The Big Shave; finally, in 1969 he completed his feature-length debut, Who's That Knocking at My Door?, a drama starring actor Harvey Keitel, who went on to appear in many of the director's most successful films. The feature also marked the beginning of Scorsese's long collaboration with editor Thelma Schoonmaker, a pivotal component in the evolution of his distinct visual sensibility.