December 16, 2021
Cinematic iconoclast Martin Scorsese has secured a perch for his legacy at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, which has announced the establishment of the Martin Scorsese Institute of Global Cinematic Arts (SICA). The new Institute takes shape not only to celebrate film history but to showcase the future and will encompass the state-of-the-art Martin Scorsese Virtual Production Center to complement the Martin Scorsese Department of Cinema Studies and provide general support for student scholarships, all of which is a result of the largest donation in the school’s history.
Made possible by George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson and their Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation, SICA becomes one of the first academic virtual production facilities on the East Coast and will further establish NYU Tisch as a global leader in cinematic arts training.
“We are thrilled to be able to honor our dear friend Martin Scorsese,” said Lucas in a joint statement with Hobson. “Through this gift in his name, the Scorsese Institute of Global Cinematic Arts deservedly highlights his legacy as a quintessential American filmmaker and will inspire generations of diverse, talented students.”
“At this stage in the technological development of cinema, when filmmakers of all orientations and obsessions use digital alteration for all kinds of reasons, virtual production represents a quantum leap forward,” Scorsese said in a news announcement released by NYU Tisch. “It allows us to visualize as we work. Whether we’re creating an imagined world or recreating a world gone by, the speed of virtual production allows us to see what we’re creating in real time.”
Scorsese extended thanks to Hobson and his “old pal George Lucas” for honoring him in such a meaningful way.
Lucas’ own legacy includes the George Lucas International Building at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. In 2006, Lucas took the lead in redesigning the new four-acre campus for which the Lucasfilm Foundation committed $175 million in seed money. Described as “an architectural hobbyist” by The New York Times, Lucas “laid out the original designs for the project.” Benefactors such as Warner Bros., Fox and Disney kicked in another $50 million.
Scorsese received his BA in English literature from NYU in 1964, and went on to earn an MFA in film at NYU Tisch in 1968. He immediately began making waves with his innovative and compelling feature films. The auteur has also propelled a culture of film preservation and restoration, galvanizing industry leaders to launch the Film Foundation in 1990.
“Through time-honored scholarship and hands-on instruction on the state-of-the-art digital technology at the Institute, artistic vision will come to life where storytelling meets innovation,” the NYU Tisch School wrote in its announcement.
Virtual production, NYU Tisch predicts, will “transform the way movies and television shows are made, with major film and television productions, including Lucasfilm’s ‘The Mandalorian’ and Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman,’ implementing these technologies ” to “marry the physical and digital worlds.”
USC is also a leader in this area, having documented best practices with “Ripple Effect” to further the knowledge of on-set virtual production and in-camera VFX. That work continues with “Fathead,” the next short to be presented by the Entertainment Technology Center at USC (ETC@USC), which was founded with the help of USC SCA alum Lucas in 1993.