Film & TV

Collaborating With Your Director of Photography

Spike Lee

Lesson time 09:00 min

Learn what to look for in a director of photography, including how to “audition” a DP and how to create a plan of action, once you’ve found the right collaborator.

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.

I've learned a lot about all the different facets of making a film and I plan to apply it to my next project.

I initially wanted to watch this specific class because I am a HUGE Spike Lee fan, and I know his words and experiences are valuable. This class has inspired me. I began writing my first script yesterday at 1 am. Thank you Spike!

Good to hear his experience it help us lot to improve our film making process thank you

I love the way Spike gave practical advise. So far my favorite.


Matt H.

take 3 used the Spike Lee Angle photo work. The painting is the star. This is layer 5 of "JLo's Painting". I know Spike Lee loves music with photography and moving pictures...this was the music I was painting to the whole entire time, while painting layer 5. Dialogue "I can't believe you guys are making a big deal out of nothing, you're just a bunch of stupid cry-babies, buncha fraidycats, it's just some stupid legend, paintings don't come to life and kill peo-- it's always the most cocky kid out of the bunch that dies first. Because he does not believe the legend, and he goes around insulting people for it!!! <3 !! *the whole town was in shock... to be continued!

Matt H.

This is the artist headshot of "marlo", ORIGINAL painter, invented his own style of oil paintings, like old school. "Post-Modern-Impressionism/Abstract" ~ (c) ~ non-profit for the Nobel Peace Prize. The character photo of marlo that goes with layer 5 of JLo's Painting. This is an abstract artist's character photo. ~marlo's selfie artistic flow~ aka "marlon" named after all time favorite actor, artists and writer Marlon Brando(((Terry Maloy)) !!!epicJusticeNOW!! = The Nobel Peace Prize <3

Matt H.

Here is the current painting I am working on, "JLo's Painting", taking photo's, and this one I tried to apply what I learned in this class, this is the Spike-Lee-Angle character photo, The painting is the star...

Matthew B.

we all need more variations of shiiiiiiit, from that guy; each one blows my mind. Chiraq one seemed like enough though, however wouldn't complain about more.

Sophia E.

I’m aiming to be a DP. Women behind the camera is rare. I would like to change the games.

Max D.

At 5:27 on the subtitles they wrote “inaudible”... Spike said “Storaro”. Vincenzo Storaro, a 3 Oscar prize winner as DP

Jim C.

"You have to get your day." That's what it comes down to. Coming off shorts to my first feature (Donovan's Echo) was such a vastly different experience. I had storyboarded most of the screenplay, only to realize that there just wasn't the luxury of time (4 week shoot) for the setups I conceived, especially with the multiple locations that my partner and I had written. In the end, we got what we needed, but it was an important learning experience that I had to go through firsthand as a filmmaker to fully appreciate the challenges that arise on a day-to-day basis. I looking forward to taking those lessons learned, and Spike's great advice into my next production.


I often realize that directors or producers sometimes forget that the most important thing about a film is its history. You can have beautiful photography, million-dollar effects, fantastic actors. If the story, or the way of telling it is weak, everything else becomes absolutely meaningless. As a writer, photographer and aspiring director, I always try to keep in mind that story is the most important thing and that all the other available resources have to be at the service of it. Innovations, style, mannerisms, all this comes with time, of course. Have the focus on story. And, of course, try to use the best resources available to tell that story. Great lesson.

Damon D.

I used a lookbook on my last project. Really helped my DP understand where I was going. Great stuff! Love this Masterclass!

Michael D.

WOW, I don't mean to sway off topic classmates, but I just finished watching the film "Blackklansman," and what a piece of brilliant filmmaking. Amazing, brilliant, and hope fully will provide mush needed discussion about race relations in this country. BRAVO, Mr. Spike Lee. I Love the way you not only made a great film, but also provided us with a prism to look at history.