Monday, March 23, 2009


Bradford Int'l Film Festival (UK)
March 27
Click here for Tickets

Beverly Hills Film Festival
April 4th
Block 2 (1:40pm)
Click Here for Tickets

Friday, April 25, 2008

Welcome to the official blog of Mardik: Baghdad to Hollywood

Mardik Martin is one of American Cinema’s most important screenwriters — and least known. Mardik: Baghdad to Hollywood traces his unlikely journey from Iraq to America, and chronicles his friendship with Martin Scorsese; one that began at New York University in the 1960s and resulted in some of the greatest films in American Cinema (Mean Streets, New York, New York, and Raging Bull). The film also details his harrowing rise and fall from Hollywood’s echelon. Mardik is a modern-day fable about reaching for your dreams and finding redemption in the end, while offering an intimate portrait of an often forgotten character in Hollywood’s pantheon...the screenwriter.

"Mardik on Mardik" article at Salem Film Festival

Mardik On Mardik
Screenwriter Talks Of His Life In Iraq And His Start In The Movie Business

Friday, April 18, 2008


Mardik Martin wrote the first three drafts of a classic American film, "Raging Bull," and co-wrote "Mean Streets," the film that made actor Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorsese Hollywood legends.

So it's no surprise he doesn't waste words talking about the documentary on his life, "Mardik: From Baghdad to Hollywood," which is showing at the Historic Elsinore Theatre Saturday as part of the Salem Film Festival.

"It's not mixed," he said of his feelings about Baghdad, Iraq, where he grew up as an Armenian Christian.

"It was total hatred. It wasn't lovable then, and now it's even less lovable.

"That was not a home; that was being a stranger in a strange and hateful place."

Martin, who immigrated to the United States as a young man who didn't speak English, found solace in Hollywood's escapist movies in Baghdad, however. Movies like "On the Town" told him about America.

"I spent all my time watching movies and television; that was how I learned English," he said.

"It showed me how to write."

It didn't hurt when he happened to meet a fellow, ambitious film student, Scorsese, at New York University, where Martin got a master's degree and taught screenwriting.

They met in 1961 when both were sophomores and started making short films together.

"We were the best students at the time," Martin said.

"I structured things on paper better than he does, and he is visually with no peer; he tells stories with a camera."

"Mean Streets," a little film about New York City hoods in Little Italy, starring De Niro and Harvey Keitel, changed everything.

It was the featured film opening night at the New York Film Festival.

"Our lives changed that night," Martin said. "It was a big moment, mostly for (Scorsese's) life.

"I contributed to the writing and put it more objectively; he was too involved."

Scorsese's more recent films, such as "Casino" and "Gangs of New York," show he needs a balancing voice, someone to say no, Martin said.

"That's what I tell students, it's not a one-person, God-like thing," he said.

Martin is now semi-retired in his 70s but is senior lecturer at the University of Southern California film school.

"Raging Bull," the story of middleweight boxer Jake La Motta, is the most admired of Scorsese's films. The 1980 drama is on many all-time lists of great films. Martin will introduce a showing of the film in Salem.

De Niro brought La Motta's autobiography to Martin to adapt.

"I think it's a great movie, and it took a couple of years out of my life," Martin said.

The autobiography seemed insubstantial, so Martin did a lot of original research over two months, moving into the home of La Motta's wife.

After three drafts, he decided it needed another voice and called in Paul Schrader to restructure it; the final draft was polished by De Niro and Scorsese.

Screenwriting is not an honored profession in Hollywood, Martin said.

"Once he gives the script to whomever is paid, whoever is involved, they say goodbye to you," he said.

"Everyone puts their hands in it."

But directing takes a special person, as well.

"To be a director is hard because you have to be a master," Martin said. "That's not an easy job. I don't think I could do that.

"I encourage people to be writer-directors; to be a writer is a good way to be a director.

"The script is the car that drives you around. It gives you a whole different world.

"In a script, less is more; you have to respect every minute of screen time."

Good films come from real life, not movie life, Martin said.

As to his own life, he likes seeing it on the screen in "Mardik: From Baghdad to Hollywood."

"I never get tired of seeing my life," he said.

"Some of the things about my life aren't quite true. The things about the drug business is exaggerated.

"The thing is, temporarily I took a shot at being a producer; I lost a lot of money (and used some drugs).

"It is a serious turning point but not because of the drugs. The drugs are just part of it.

"Now I've been clean for 31 years."

With his experience, Martin often is asked how to succeed in the film business.

"What I usually put down is there's like 5 percent you can do something about," he said.

"The other 95 percent is just luck.

"You have to be prepared; know as much as possible. The more you know, the more likely you are to impress with your knowledge of that past." or (503) 399-6728