This ‘Departed’ Doc Gives the Most Intimate Look at Scorsese and DiCaprio at Work

The Anthology Film Archives has delivered a treat to Martin Scorsese fans by making Jonas Mekas’ 2005 documentary “Notes on an American Film Director at Work: Martin Scorsese” available to stream for free on Vimeo. The late filmmaker Mekas was granted intimate access to record Scorsese behind the scenes as he directed “The Departed,” his crime thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson. “The Departed” is notable not only for winning Best Picture but for winning Scorsese his long overdue Oscar for Best Director.

“I was asked to make a five to ten minute film about Marty to introduce his retrospective. As it happened, Marty was shooting ‘The Departed’ at that time. I asked him if I could follow him for a week or two, and he said yes,” Mekas once said of the film. “So that’s how this film happened. Sebastian, my son, joined me with a second camera. I did a brief version, and proceeded with a longer one. Since I was very busy at that time with other projects, I asked Benn Northover, a good friend, to help me with editing it—I had some 15 hours of footage—and we all had a great time working on it because we all love Marty! It’s a chamber kind of movie, a personal tribute to a friend.”

Mekas’ “Notes on an American Film Director at Work” gives Martin Scorsese fans an up close and personal look at the filmmaker on set as he blocks scenes with DiCaprio, watches the monitor during takes, sets up scenes with cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, and hangs around chatting with crew members and friends. Mekas’ approach is unobtrusive and much of the documentary is real-time footage, providing one of the best windows into Scorsese and his cast and crew at work.

Footage of “The Departed” set is broken up with Scorsese’s conversations with Mekas as the two talk about the filmmaking process and filmmaking heroes such as Stan Brakhage. The documentary runs just over an hour and is must-see viewing for Scorsese fans now that it’s available for stream.

Anthology Film Archives has disabled embedding on its video stream of “Notes on an American Film Director at Work: Martin Scorsese.” Click the “Watch on Vimeo” button below to view the documentary on the organization’s Vimeo Page.

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