How Spike Lee Directs a Film | The Director's Chair

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Director and writer Spike Lee explains his approach to filmmaking, how to fight for your vision, put the work in, and never stop learning.

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Chapters:
00:00 Intro — How Spike Lee Ray Became a Filmmaker
00:59 Early Life & Career
02:15 Fight for you Film
04:16 Find your Lane
05:40 Challenge your Audience
08:41 Never Stop Learning
10:21 Put the Work In
11:36 Final Takeaways

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SPIKE LEE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR

Spike Lee is one of the preeminent auteurs in American cinema. He built a reputation on a foundation of fierce independence and an unmistakable artistic voice. In this video, we collected Spike Lee interviews from throughout his career. From his film school days, including winning a student Academy Award, to winning another Oscar for writing BlacKkKlansman 3 decades later.

WHO IS SPIKE LEE

Spike Lee was born on March 20, 1957 in Atlanta but spent his formative years in Brooklyn. In fact, there are few filmmakers as closely identified with their hometown as Lee is with that NY borough. After attending film school at NYU, he began his career with confrontational and poignant films while helping to usher in the independent film movement of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

SPIKE LEE JOINTS

In 1989, Spike Lee wrote and directed a landmark film called Do the Right Thing. It deals with racial tensions that boil to the surface and eventually erupt on the hottest day of the summer. The film is the exemplar for Lee’s ability to challenge his audiences with uncomfortable topics and no easy answers. As he explains, “For drama, you gotta have two people butt heads. And it elevates the drama when they’re both right.”

For his epic ode to Malcolm X, the studio wanted Lee to cut it down from 3 hours to 2. But Spike refused and explained that to truly honor the evolution of Malcolm’s life, the story needs to unfold organically. And when the budget ran low, Lee had to cold-call everyone he knew to help get the film finished. It is obstacles like these that have molded Lee’s work ethic: you gotta fight for your film.

Spike Lee doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. For over 4 decades, he has worked in various genres and mediums, like documentaries and commercials, and carved out a singular voice. If you’re a filmmaker looking for a guiding light through the insane world of filmmaking, Spike Lee is the one you need.

#FilmTheory #VideoEssay #Filmmaking

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♬ SONGS USED:

“Fight The Power” – Public Enemy
“Everyday People” – Sly & The Family Stone
“We Love Roll Call Y-All” – The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
“Nola Cleans Up” – Bill Lee
“Return Of The Crooklyn Dodgers (Instrumental)” – Crooklyn Dodgers ’95
“Nola – Piano” – Bill Lee
“Opening Credits” – Terence Blanchard
“Flashback” – Terence Blanchard
“Nola – Instrumental” – Bill Lee
“Still Barkin” – Chad Tuthill
“Summit – Alternative Version” – Gray North
“Everything Hunky Dory” – Terence Blanchard
“Wake Up Finale” – The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
“Father To Son” – The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
“What’s Going On (Instrumental)” – Marvin Gaye
“White Power Theme” – Terence Blanchard
“Young Malcolm” – Terence Blanchard
“A Thought (Reprise) – Bill Lee
“PHD” – PhilDavid
“Changed” – Jon Gegelman
“Morning Sunbeams” – Yehezkel Raz
“A New Morning” – PORTL

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