The summer before my senior year in high school I got a job as a messenger in a post-production house in Manhattan. Martin Scorsese was editing “The Last Temptation of Christ” in the building. The movie was scheduled to debut at the New York Film Festival in September but there was so much controversy surrounding it, the date was pushed up. So Scorsese and his team of editors worked around the clock to mix the sound. One Saturday, I came into work to sit next to the projector in the machine room and watch. After an hour, Scorsese invited me inside. I was supposed to go visit my grandfather who was recovering from surgery at Lennox Hill, but I stayed in the dark mixing studio all afternoon. I watched and listened.
Scorsese was approachable that summer. He complimented me on my t-shirt collection, talked to me about movies, and one day when I brought my friends in, trying to show off, Scorsese spotted me and said hello, a huge thrill.
The next summer, I’d graduated high school and Scorsese was shooting a gangster movie called “Wise Guy” (later changed to “Goodfellas). The Dailies–footage from the previous day’s shoot–were transfered to videotape for Robert DeNiro. Whenever I had down time between a run, I snuck into the transfer room and watched take after take of Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta, DeNiro and the gang. I’d never been so anxious to see a movie in my life. A few months later, I was walking past a studio where they were mixing the sound and I heard “Monkey Man,” my favorite Stones song. I stopped dead in my tracks.
Are you kidding me? This is going to be the best movie ever.
I saw “Goodfellas” the day it opened, the first showing, high noon, over on the east side somewhere. Then, I saw it four more times in the theater.
That was 20 years ago. Check out the oral history of the movie featured over at GQ. It’s not great but it gives you some flavor behind the making of the movie that put Scorsese’s career back on the map and practically annoited him as the Dean of American Directors.