You may imagine that a highly esteemed director like Martin Scorsese would only shoot his movies on massive sound stages. But when he decided his latest movie, "Killers of the Flower Moon," needed a coda, he actually went back to school to film it.
Months after principal photography wrapped in Oklahoma on his adaption of the acclaimed David Grann non-fiction book about the Osage Nation killings, the New York City native traveled to his old high school, Cardinal Hayes High School, in the Bronx and shot the now-memorable final scene in which a 1930s radio broadcast recounts the aftermath of the murders.
"It's this beautiful Catholic high school," actor Larry Fessenden, who was one of the radio performers in the scene, told Insider about the filming. "Marty told us that, as a kid, he would take the subway from Little Italy to this school run by men of the cloth."
What's as remarkable as Scorsese needing only a high-school auditorium as the setting for the close of his movie, is the amount of detail and rehearsal done for a scene that lasts all of maybe four minutes.
Fessenden said there were two days of rehearsals at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn for the scene. During that time, everything from the sound of actors' voices to the Foley artists' props was meticulously scrutinized by Scorsese.
"Marty goes, 'Okay, so let me see what you got!'" Fessenden recalled. "And we do the whole thing and we're quite proud of ourselves and he starts breaking everything down, even something small like, 'That's supposed to be a car horn? That doesn't sound like a car horn at all.'"
After a week break, the scene was then shot at Cardinal Hayes High School over three days in February 2022.
"We arrive in the Bronx. There's a huge crane in the auditorium, the set is beautiful. All the extras are there," Fessenden said.
"Marty would come in the second half of the day after we rehearsed," he continued. "Everything was refined during the downtime between rehearsal and shoot. Then, we shot it. We go through close-ups and Marty makes adjustments. It was a very collaborative process. He is guiding and exploring with you to find what he thinks is right."
Then it was time to shoot the most dramatic moment of the scene: when Scorsese delivers the obituary of the movie's main character, Mollie Burkhart (Lily Gladstone). A moment made possible, Fessenden said, by the movie's casting director Ellen Lewis, who urged Scorsese to act in this part of the scene.
"They cleared the room, and the whole audience left," Fessenden said. "But we, the actors on stage, were allowed to sit in and watch."
"I had tears in my eyes," added Fessenden, who said Scorsese did several takes and directed himself. "I could see this was so seminal to the whole project, Marty's career, even without seeing the movie yet. I just sensed there was genuine anger and a mea culpa about violence. It was profound."
Fessenden, who has legend status in the independent film world for his work as a director and producer, said working on "Killers of the Flower Moon" was a highlight of his life.
However, he did find it funny that the auditorium at the school is not named after Scorsese.
"It's called the Regis Philbin Auditorium," said Fessenden, referring to the iconic daytime and game-show host who died in 2020.
"I think Marty has a closet named after him," he said jokingly.