He is one of the greatest American film directors working, but on Sunday night it was the world of U.S. television that Martin Scorsese ruled over, winning an Emmy for directing drama Boardwalk Empire.

The pilot episode of the series, which is set in 1930s Prohibition-era Atlantic City at a time when mob bosses ruled that seaside town, was directed by Scorsese, and if he had his way, the maker of GoodFellas and Raging Bull said he'd like to direct more.

I've always dreamed of working on a project where the characters can develop over a period of time, Scorsese told reporters backstage at the Emmys. You can develop plot, characters ... and get more done over a longer period of time. It gives you more license and much more freedom.

Scorsese, 68, had been nominated for Oscars, the film industry's top honors, seven times before finally winning for directing his 2006 hit The Departed.

Yet even though he plays at the top of his game in film, he said it was nerve-racking sitting in the Emmy audience and waiting to see if his name would be called.

I was extremely nervous, he said. I must say it is something I never dreamed of. It's a different medium, although we approach 'Boardwalk Empire' as a film, a very long film. It's just as exciting.

He told reporters that the type of television dramas being made now on cable TV networks such as HBO, where Boardwalk Empires airs, were of a quality that directors like Scorsese had longed for back in the 1960s but failed to materialize on broadcast networks looking for the widest possible audiences.

You have the opportunity here now. You can do something really extraordinary now. This is the time, he said.

Other Scorsese films include Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, The Color of Money, Casino, The Aviator and Gangs of New York. He also has directed documentary films. His new nonfiction feature, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, will premiere on HBO in October.