Film & TV

Case Study: Financing Malcolm X

Spike Lee

Lesson time 07:01 min

Spike recounts his battle to secure additional funds for Malcolm X to show you how self-reliance, self-determination, and dedication to your story can help finance a project.

Spike Lee
Teaches Independent Filmmaking
Academy Award–winning filmmaker Spike Lee teaches his approach to directing, writing, and producing.
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Make films with an impact

Spike Lee didn’t just direct his award-winning 1986 feature debut, She’s Gotta Have It. He was also the writer, star, truck driver, location scout, electrician, and caterer, because that’s what it took to get his film made. In his first-ever online directing class, the visionary behind Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and 25th Hour lets you in on his uncompromising approach to filmmaking. Learn about writing, self-producing, working with actors, and making movies that break barriers.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Notecards from this point on will be KEY to organizing my thoughts and will be beneficial for doing research prior to writing. I met Spike Lee briefly in downtown Charlotte last Sunday and told him I'm looking forward to taking his Masterclass. It was certainly worth it. The importance of organization and sincerity was heavily emphasized. This was an extraordinary class.

I will employ all knowledge as much as possible.

An amazing sharing from a Master! Thank you Spike you have both educated and inspired me on my road this year to make my first documentary and movie. Invaluable learning. Thank you

I thought this class made helped break down the process of becoming the filmmaker. I especially loved it when Spike talked about the logistics of what a filmmaker has to do.


Saurav N.

@MasterClass people, there is a typo error in the title slide it should be "Malcom X" and not "Macolm X"

Therese 'Tag' G.

It's interesting to hear about how one of film's greats got financing for a film the studio had lost faith in. However, it doesn't provide advice for how independent film makers can get their own financing.

Leisa J.

What I learned the most is that prominent people trusted Spike to convey Malcolm’s story.

Tony C.

Spike, you are one lovable character and a brilliant story-teller. The world is a better place with you around.

Michael O.

Every culture has a trickster. This is the best of trickster stories, and for such a cause!

Sascha G.

The opening title card has a typo. It reads “MACOLM.” It should be “MALCOLM.”

Michael D.

I wrote those two lines down immediately. Self determination, and self reliance! That will be my Spike mantra. Love his personality.

Deborah R.

This lesson proves you have to be in it to win it. Self reliance is the core of independent filmmaking. Also faith in your ability to stay the course with unrelenting sacrifice and commitment. We love you Spike for showing us how this works.


great lesson too bad he had no money to make malcolm x he had to wait 20 years to make it

Sonya R.

Thank you so much for telling it like it is! I really needed to hear this from you. I am learning so very much, it is gut-wrenching, but it is what one has to do to make a film. Making a list....