NEW YORK – Martin Scorsese's alma mater, New York University, is establishing a film institute in his name after a gift from George Lucas and Mellody Hobson.
The formation of the Martin Scorsese Institute of Global Cinematic Arts was to be announced Tuesday by NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. The institute will include a virtual production center, the Martin Scorsese Department of Cinema Studies and support for student scholarships — with tuition assistance for those selected as “Scorsese scholars.”
A large donation from the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation — the nonprofit run by the “Star Wars” filmmaker and his wife, Hobson, co-chief executive of Ariel Investments and chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation — made the new institute possible.
“This is such a singular and remarkable honor for me, and I thank my old, dear friend George Lucas, his wife Mellody Hobson and their remarkable foundation for this honor," Scorsese said in a statement. “Their generosity of spirit and deed is deeply moving for me, and doubly so since this state-of-the-art institute will be housed at my beloved alma mater, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. I only wish that my parents were around to see this. They would have been so proud.”
Scorsese has a long history with NYU's film program. As a student, he made his first short films there, including 1967's “The Big Shave, ” a six-minute Vietnam War allegory in which a young man shaves his face until it's a bloody mess. Scorsese earned his masters at NYU in 1968 and continued after teaching undergraduate filmmaking. The school also gave him an honorary degree in 1992, and Scorsese currently sits on Tisch's Dean's Council.
Virtual production is a fast-evolving mode of moviemaking that endeavors to immerse filmmakers in a real-time digital sandbox by using technologies like game-engine software, motion capture and augmented or virtual reality. It puts actors and filmmakers into a soundstage environment where digital meets physical. While such effects are more closely associated with more spectacle-driven filmmakers, Scorsese used some of its tools in the de-aging process in “The Irishman." He says virtual production represents "a quantum leap forward.”
“George and I have known one another for what seems like a lifetime, and he has always been driven to create new, imagined worlds on screen," said Scorsese. “His urge — his obsession — is part of a tradition that begins with the cinema itself and the films of Georges Méliès. I suppose you could say that my own obsession grows out of the cinema’s other parallel tradition, which originates with the Lumière Brothers: exploring the mystery and the beauty and the strangeness of the world before us, of ongoing life.”
Lucas studied film at the University of Southern California and in 2006 gave the school’s film program gifts totaling $175 million — then USC's richest donation ever. The Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation declined to share the amount of the NYU donation. The Scorsese institute is expected to launch next year, with the production center to follow at a later date.
In a joint statement, Hobson and Lucas said the Scorsese institute “deservedly highlights his legacy as a quintessential American filmmaker and will inspire generations of diverse, talented students.”
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP