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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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.

Thank you very much for this class. I'm going to work on all information I received

It has made me not be afraid to approach doing film as an Indie Film Director and to allow myself the freedom to explore.

I love Spike Lee and I was waiting for this masterclass so long. It was definitely very interesting, but I feel like it was way too short, I'm sure Spike was able to speak more. :)

Spike Lee is real! This is some hard shit!,,


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....