Even on Zoom, Martin Scorsese knows how to frame the shot. Ostensibly he’s dialed in to talk about his new Super Bowl ad for Squarespace, but as he’s settling in, he adjusts the iPad he’s calling from to make sure his face is framed perfectly by the bookshelves behind him.
It’s not so much vanity as a desire to take digital communication seriously. Scorsese’s Super Bowl spot is a punchy, humorous riff about what would happen if extraterrestrials came to Earth and couldn’t get humanity’s attention because everyone is lost in their phones. It’s funny, but also something Scorsese thinks about. At 81, he says, he remembers the transition from radio to television to film and puts a lot of thought into how people from every generation consume visual media.
Including, now, on TikTok. Late last year, the legendary filmmaker—who recently received his 10th Best Director Oscar nomination, for Killers of the Flower Moon—went viral when his daughter Francesca Scorsese started posted a video of her dad on the video-sharing app learning slang. He says he may never be good at storytelling on TikTok, but a 30-second spot? That he can do.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Angela Watercutter: Shall we dive right in?
Martin Scorsese: I guess so. I’ll do my best. [Laughs]
I saw the behind-the-scenes you did with Francesca the other day. How is it working with your daughter as a collaborator?
Well, it’s just an extension of the two of us and how we normally behave. So for me it’s very grounding. There’s no judgment, or there’s no direction in any sense. It’s really playing off each other. It seems to flow very naturally with her.
You’re both very funny.
I think she has a wonderful sense of humor, and she’s a very good actor. Some, it’s not acting, you know, it’s just simply being. Simply is not easy. But that’s the key.
Does this mean we’re gonna get some more TikToks soon? I know the internet has been anticipating them.
We would like to post a few more. Right now it’s a little busy. If she comes up with an interesting idea during the nature of the work itself, where we’re doing interviews and we’re going places to do an event or whatever, that adds an energy to it. It makes it even more natural. In a way, it’s disarming, because we have no choice. We have to get this done and it’s like, “Let’s go do it,” rather than “Don’t bother me. Get away from me with that iPhone.” I like the iPhone, I’m just saying keep it away from me.
Ha! Right. I know what you mean.
I don’t know what winds up on the internet. I was not aware that it would be posted. However, it’s all right.