I'm a filmmaker. She's Gotta Have It, Do The Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Crooklyn, Four Little Girls, 25th Hour, Summer of Sam, He Got Game, When the Levees Broke, Inside Man, Bamboozled, Kobe Doin' Work, and the New Spike Lee Joint.

I'm here to take your questions on filmmaking to sports to music. AMAA.

proof: https://twitter.com/SpikeLee/status/365968777843703808

edit: I wish to thank everyone for spending part of your August Friday summer night with me. Please go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/spikelee/the-newest-hottest-spike-lee-joint and help us get the new Spike Lee Joint to reach its goal.

Peace and love.

Comments: 4066 • Responses: 69  • Date: 

Shame_LessPlug1218 karma

Mr. Lee. Huge fan, donated to your kickstarter, got a big "Malcolm X" poster hanging in my room. I'm white, but I've always found "black struggle captivating. I don't "act black," whatever that means, but I tend to prefer spending my time with black friends than the upper class white kids that go to my school. Irrelevant really. But there's a scene in "Malcolm X" where a white woman offers "help" to the cause and Malcolm denies her. I understand his reasoning behind it. But I wonder about your opinions on it.

I don't like the idea of being "the white guy million man marching," but it's hard not to be affected when it's absolutely noticeable how different people act when my black friends and I go out than when my white friends and I go out. So what am I and people like me supposed to do? People who observe the struggle but can't ever fully understand it. Don't want to stand idly by, but don't know what to do besides not be racist.

MrSpikeLee1881 karma

This is the best question of the night. That scene you refer to in Malcolm X is a true story, and Malcolm said that was one of his biggest regrets that he told that young woman, a person like you, that there was nothing they could do to help the black struggle. He regretted doing that.

Just be you.

joetromboni908 karma

I remember watching Do The Right Thing on TV one time, but every time a character said "motherfucker" it was dubbed over with "mickeyfickey"

Who chose mickey fickey as a way to censor mother fucker?

MrSpikeLee1741 karma

Wasn't me. And I hate it. I hate it I hate it I hate it.

RubenTheCuban752 karma

You're directing a remake of Oldboy, a brilliant, original Korean film. It is a very tall order. Are you nervous? What do you want to do differently? Also, any parts for a jobbing actor?

MrSpikeLee1095 karma

Before we started the shoot, Josh Brolin went to Park Chan-wook and asked for his blessing. He told Josh "you and Spike make your own film, don't remake ours." And that's what we did.

malcontented400 karma

Do you watch Breaking Bad? How do you think it will end. Do you like Giancarlo Esposito's portrayal of Gus Fring?

MrSpikeLee569 karma

Yes, I love all of Giancarlo's work. I don't know how the show will end. But I will be watching.

IBiteYou364 karma

What actor have you NOT worked with that you would really LOVE to work with?

MrSpikeLee798 karma

SEAN PENN, my man Sean Penn. Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Cate Blanchett, the other Kate, Kate Winslet.

Ghost1y239 karma

Hey Spike. I took an African-American Lit class last year at school and we had a great teacher, which really brought the material to life. As an extra credit opportunity we could watch Bamboozled and write an essay response to it for credit. I don't really have a question, and I'm sure you won't see it, but that film really shook me. It was incredible how on one level, everything seemed so absurd, and part of me thought "That'd never happen in real life," yet part of me wondered how far apart it was from real life. It really stood out to me and was very thought provoking, so I thank you.

MrSpikeLee225 karma

Thank you, and Bamboozled had the crystal ball for reality shows. Which came later.

FarFarAwayToday195 karma

When The Levees Broke kept me up for several nights, discussing it with my husband and giving copies to friends.

Are there any documentaries you feel more people should see?

Thank you for dedicating your life to this art.

MrSpikeLee327 karma

I think the one that people should see now is The Central Park Five by Ken Burns.

juicyelbows186 karma

How was your day, Spike?

MrSpikeLee248 karma

Great. A great day in the Republic of Brooklyn New York.

ChiragSharma172 karma

Biggest advice for aspiring filmmakers?

MrSpikeLee303 karma

Well I would say that you could really have a head start on everyone by being a hyphenate. By that I mean being a writer-director. Young directors who also write have an advantage.

shartersbeshartin170 karma

Can you tell us a cool anecdote you've wanted to share? How do you think America's racial politics/awareness have changed from when you first started filmmaking to now?

MrSpikeLee495 karma

It was March 20, 1988. I was having a birthday party in LA and E.U. was the band. And this is right after School Daze and E.U. had the number R&B hit with the song "Da Butt." And this lady was dancing crazy on top of a speaker, I told her to get down, because if she fell, her neck would be broken and I would be sued. So finally she jumped off the speaker and started cursing me out in a voice I'd never heard before. I asked her where she was from, and she said she was from Brooklyn. I said "where in Brooklyn" and she said "Fort Greene" which is my neighborhood. I said "What is your name" and she said "Rosie Perez." At the time I was writing Do The Right Thing, and that's when I got the idea to make Mookie's girlfriend Puerto Rican.

Historically African-Americans and Puerto Ricans have intermarried.

And that's my anecdote for tonight. The rest is history!

Well, we have made some changes. We have an African-American president. But here's the thing. A lot of people thought racism would be eradicated or disappear as soon as we had a Black president. That we would enter a post-racial America. That has not worked out.

apanthropy156 karma


MrSpikeLee270 karma

Recently, both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas (who you could say invented the blockbuster) have bemoaned this tentpole business plan by the studios. By "tentpole" we mean these films that open up around the world on the same day and make billions of dollars. This summer has demonstrated that this plan is not working.

Spielberg and Lucas say if this continues to happen, the Hollywood system will collapse onto itself. That's not me seeing it, that's Spielberg and Lucas.

And happy born day.

bringbacktubgirl135 karma

You did a documentary about Kobe Bryant and you are a good friend of Michael Jordan. If they did a 1 on 1 game in their prime, who do you think wins?

MrSpikeLee367 karma

The greatest player ever, Michael Jordan. It would be hotly contested though.

chiefrocking126 karma

Spike! 3 no 4 ...no 5! questions, take your pick!:

(1) Seeing as how many of your films are viewed through a New York centric lens, what do you think many non-New Yorkers may miss when watching your films?

(2) How was the feel on the set of Bamboozled amongst the cast & crew members, considering all the minstrel imagery? Was there any self-realization, learning, awkwardness etc?

(3) What was your biggest success in pushing through a topic or scene that studio heads thought was controversial?

(4) Bed-Stuy has changed considerably in the past 24 years. If you had to shoot Do the Right Thing over again in the summer of 2013, what kind of characters would it be comprised of? Or would you move the setting to a different hood?

(5) Why not move MSG?

Thanks for doing an AMA! I'm a big fan and appreciate you having the courage to tell the stories that you do in your films. Big up to you!

MrSpikeLee158 karma

1 They get it. They get it.

2 Oh yes. Savion Glover and Tommy Davidson had hard times putting on that blackface. It was painful for them. Very painful.

3 Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X.

4 There would be more of the John Savage (Clifton) characters in it!

5 It's the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time. The garden owns the land, they spent a billion dollars renovating it, and now they are being told to move in 10 years. That's insane.

Thank you very much.

rosterplayer99120 karma

Can Denzel really play ball? How was he on the 'He Got Game' set?

MrSpikeLee225 karma

Yes. Denzel was on the JV team at Fordham, where P. J. Carlesimo was his coach.


tator1487119 karma

What was it like working with Ed Norton on 25th Hour?

MrSpikeLee197 karma

Edward Norton's a great actor. Very intelligent. And I think it was the trinity of Edward, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the very underrated Barry Pepper that made 25th Hour what it was. And also giving love to Rosario Dawson and Bryan Cox too.

The cinematography of Rodrigo Prieto and the music of Terrence Blanchard were instrumental to the feel and tone of the movie also.

Subduction114 karma

How in the world do I get a screenplay read by anyone who matters?

How do I even work my way up to getting rejected?

MrSpikeLee314 karma

Before you start worrying about that, learn your craft. A lot of people spend more time worrying about who's going to read it than they do on writing a great script.

ecost106 karma

Mr. Lee! Thanks for doing this AMA. Two questions: • Inside Man is one of my favorite movies (then again, so is anything Denzel Washington has ever been a part of). Any plans to work with him again in the near future? • You obviously caused a lot of discussion when you criticized Tarantino for "Django Unchained." Why do you feel his use of the N-word (which many would say was historically accurate) is less justified than that of other directors, white or black? Edit: wording

MrSpikeLee170 karma

Yes, Denzel and I have been talking about this, what would be our fifth film together. Number one was Mo' Better Blues, Number two was Malcolm X, Number three was He Got Game, Number Four was Inside Man.

I think his use of the N-word is excessive, in my opinion. I never said he couldn't use it, I just thought that it was... excessive.

matiasrdz90 karma

What's your favorite film, and what director has inspired you the most?

MrSpikeLee154 karma

Martin Scorcese has inspired me the most, but I have tons of favorite films, I can't name one.

rdowse6489 karma

I often confuse you with Spike Jonze. Do you two know each other?

MrSpikeLee107 karma

We've met one time in Mexico. We were at a film festival. That was it.

Frajer84 karma

Are you a bigger Knicks fan than Jack Nicholson is a Lakers fan?

MrSpikeLee161 karma

I'll say Jack is a bigger Lakers fan, he's been sitting courtside longer than me. But i have nothing but love for Jack and we are very good friends, even when the Knicks are playing the Lakers at the Staples Center or Madison Square Garden. The Lakers won't win any rings sometime soon.

WarpvsWeft68 karma

Do you ever look back and think that on occasion your mouth might have gotten ahead of your thinking?

Do you look back at any particular public statements with regret?

MrSpikeLee200 karma

Yea, I'm human.

Thenightryder60 karma

Hi Spike. Wondering if you could settle something for us. We work on a tv show in Scotland and one of our buddies claims, if you get your funding he will be going out to shadow on your film for 5 days. We find this hard to believe but he insists it's true. Is he pulling our chain!

MrSpikeLee79 karma

Yea, it's true! Absolutely.

mrhong8259 karma

Bamboozled was fucking awesome. Have your ever attempted to get directing jobs in the sci-fi or fantasy genre? I just think that you're really versatile as a director and would like to see your catalog expand to all kinds of different shit.
Edit: P.S. Sucka Free City was the shit! Too bad it didn't become something more. Showtime fucked up. That could've been their The Wire

MrSpikeLee103 karma

I would love to do musicals, I would love to do science fiction, I would love to do a slave narrative, so I would like to stretch out some more.

p.s. They fucked up.

georgesismybitch52 karma


MrSpikeLee115 karma

I like our roster very much. However I am sad that Chris Copeland left and even sadder he is playing for the Indiana Pacers.

cpreddi49 karma

Did She's Gotta Have It come from a personal place? Where did you get the idea to make that film?

Also if you have time, I have a second question.

What advice would you give to a young man or women who what's to be an independent filmmaker?

MrSpikeLee99 karma

No. No darling, it was a fantasy of my imagination. Never met a Nola Darling. The idea came from my male friends alway bragging about their female conquests, and that somehow their ladyfriends started seeing somebody else, they would act like it was bloody murder. So I wanted to flip the script and show this woman who is juggling three men at the same time and how they react to that, with the tables being turned. And the inspiration for this was an Akira Kurosawa film, Rashomon, the Japanese film, which is about a rape and you see from several witnesses their version of what took place.

Learn your craft is my advice! Learn your craft.

melo011543 karma

What was the most important thing you wanted people to take from the movie "Red Hook Summer"?

MrSpikeLee170 karma

I don't tell people what they should think when my films are over. They gotta do that.

interrupting_candy42 karma

Do you honestly think that the Knicks can win the championship this year?

MrSpikeLee146 karma

I have to. It's been 41 years.

noladarling9131 karma

Girl 6 in my opinion is one of the greatest representations of the condition of the black woman in America. Are you disappointed in how it was received by critics and audiences?

MrSpikeLee36 karma

No. We knew that film going in was not going to get a popular reception. I'm glad you liked it. And Theresa Randle gave a great performance in it.

Ebnerd28 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA despite all the haters. I'm a big fan of your films and have a couple quick questions, take your pick:

1) Seen anything good lately? What inspires you?

2) Love your documentaries-- anything in the pipeline?

3) Really enjoying your foray into genre stuff while retaining your trademark style-- aside from your Kickstarter thriller, is there any other genre you'd like to try?

MrSpikeLee45 karma

1 Fruitvale Station! And whatever it is that's inspiring.

2 Yes. Working on something called Go Brazil Go. About Brazil as an emerging new world power.

3 Musicals, science fiction, maybe a slave narrative, and maybe a Western.

goatsgreetings21 karma

Hi Spike. Were you expecting your Kickstarter campaign to result in the level of media controversy we've seen in recent weeks? I thought your point about bringing a new audience to the site was well made.

MrSpikeLee25 karma

We rarely have smooth sailing. And the cofounders of Kickstarter told us that we would get some flack. Same thing had happened to Veronica Mars. And Zach Braff.

fistofthejedi19 karma

You ever consider buying a sports team, Mr. Lee? I know you love sports a lot, but could you ever see yourself as an owner?

MrSpikeLee88 karma

Do you know how much sports teams cost?

MrMovieKang18 karma

How are you Spike?

MrSpikeLee22 karma


rip_lyl13 karma

it's been a dream of mine to sit with you at a Knicks game, what do i need to do to make this happen?

MrSpikeLee29 karma

Quickly go to my Kickstarter page before all the seats are gone!


Say reddit sent you.

holdmyspliff13 karma

Spike in the early stages of your career, how did you find the will and determination to get your films made through the trials and tribulations you've faced? I'm in the process of raising money for my first film and it's not easy task financing and I'm looking for some advice. Thanks.

MrSpikeLee17 karma

What is easy? Nothing is easy.

armensoudj13 karma

as a filmmaker, you are my biggest inspiration. I'm wondering, how can i get my hands on an old school red Spike's Joint Crooklyn jersey and where can i get Four Little girls on dvd?

MrSpikeLee9 karma

Four Little Girls you can get on Amazon. And you might have to go to ebay to get the red Crooklyn baseball jersey.

Satch_12 karma

What is your favorite Air Jordan?

MrSpikeLee14 karma

The Concords (11).

AND my Spizikes. You can get them on my Kickstarter as one of the perks.

inquisitive87211 karma

Spike, what are the adversaries black producers in the industry face? Is it harder for a black producer/director to get private investment?

MrSpikeLee18 karma

I would say in general it's harder for African-Americans to get financing period. Whether it's a small business loan or mortgages or whatever. And there is data to back that up. For African-American people or people of color, it's just harder to get capital.

likwitsnake9 karma

Hey Spike I noticed you listed two Terrence Malick movies in a list of "must see movies" in your opinion. Since his style seems to vary so much from your own I was wondering if you think filmmakers tend to get bogged down or trapped into delivering a known product each time around and whether they feel inclined to like or support similar minded films/filmmakers? Thanks Spike

MrSpikeLee8 karma

For me, to love a filmmakers' work does not mean they have to have the same style I have. The filmmakers I love have their own distinctive voice and style. I am not looking for people who do similar things to me.

There's always a chance that you can get stuck.

MrMovieKang9 karma

Mr. Lee, do you have any science fiction projects on the horizon?

MrSpikeLee18 karma

I would love do an Octavia Butler novel one day.

shitboots9 karma

Who's jersey are you gonna be sporting at the Garden this year?

MrSpikeLee13 karma

Don't know yet! Also I'm waiting to see what Metta World Peace, what he's going to change his name too also.

awkrdblkgirl9 karma

I don't have a question just wanted to let you know that I'm a broke college kid but I still backed your kickstarter project because I love your work especially Do the right thing! Hope you meet your goal.

MrSpikeLee13 karma

Thank you very much for your hard-earned money. And we will not disappoint you.

niggerfaget6666 karma

What made you want to become a filmmaker?

MrSpikeLee5 karma

Film chose me.

morgan_freemun6 karma

I really like 'Summer of Sam', but find it really hard to follow. What was the reason for all of the crazy cut scenes and camera tricks? It seems so different from your regular directorial style. Not saying I didn't like that style, I am just curious why it seems so different from your other movies.

MrSpikeLee5 karma

It was a crazy summer. The summer of 1977, New York City was insane. There was a blackout, the first summer of disco, the summer of Sam, the Yankees... it was just crazy. Plato's retreat. Drugs. CBGB, Punk Rock.

rocketman5005 karma

Do you think your movie's messages will still be relevent to later generations?

MrSpikeLee9 karma

Do The Right Thing is still relevant and it's 24 years afterwards. Yes.

Dalven5 karma

Just wanna say I loved Inside Man.

MrSpikeLee9 karma

We love it too. We want to see the sequel.

lightingthesky4 karma

No questions, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for filming Passing Strange. I would have never gotten the chance to see it otherwise and it's become one of my all-time favorite musicals. Your film inspired many of us in the theatre program I was in at the two-year college I attended and it was literally all we discussed outside of classes for a solid week after viewing it. Thank you.

MrSpikeLee2 karma

well, Stew and I thank you.

I_Am_Not_Legend4 karma

Do you think 'Get on the Bus' was under appreciated? I do, I love how stereotypes become characters, it's great work.

MrSpikeLee4 karma

That was a hard film to make, very claustrophobic, since most of it takes place on a bus. 18 day shoot, we shot in LA, Nashville, and DC.

dastardly-villain3 karma

Why won't you give Tyler Perry a break? Though you don't like the content of his films, he is making history in Hollywood in all his various deals. Much of it is unprecedented, especially for a black person who's name isn't Oprah.

MrSpikeLee7 karma

Tyler Perry and I have no beef. We are cool. Mad cool.