Film & TV

Music Is Key

Spike Lee

Lesson time 14:18 min

Spike shares his strategies for enhancing drama through music. Learn his advice for working with a composer, turning source into score, and using music as a counterpoint.

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.

The essentials of how to make films: Being true to a story and telling it well. And working your butt off to make it happen.

I learned the most important attribute I need to work on is my dedication. It may be in your heart and in your head but if the work is not tangible, it's not done.

Amazing! I would certainly recommend to anyone wanting to get into film!

Loved this one, especially about his writing process.


Matt H.

1-3rd graders, huge NBA fans. The dream team. Micheal Jordan & David Robinson, with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson at point guard and Charles Barkley at the power-forward position. Spurs fantasy team lineup; PGTony Parker G: Dominique Wilkins smf: George Girven pf: Tim Duncan, C: David Robinson bench: Dennis Rodman, Manu Ginobli, Vernon Maxwell, Sean Elliott, Alvin Robertson, Dale Ellis, Terry Cummings music outtro ... most prized childhood possession: youth sized David Robinson jersey

Pablo S.

Wow that counter point it´s a POWERFUL tool!! It makes adience feel "what it would be"! Thank you! Great lesson!

Mary Beth P.

I am having a harder time connecting with his style, so I don't quite understand his rationale.

Michael O.

Re: Copeland: "I hired him, he was alive!" The glee with which you, Spike, approach teaching is creating glee in me. So much fun, I don't want it to stop. But it's gotta, cause I gotta do my thing.

Tino T.

Totally agree, the SOUNDTRACK is sooo important, thats why some low buget 80s movie are still cult... because the music helps you to walk the emotional path in each scene. Of course, you should never ever oversoundtrack the movie like in "Inception" although the music was a masterpiece.. the Key from the Soundtrack is to put it in in key moments.. putting it too much, or too less is an empty or a wannabe scene/movie... although I loved inception its not so good with the overflow music. I almost do my own soundtrack when I can. (for the Short Movies not the Series) Another Thing, the type of music, you should never ever put an epic soundtrack to a short minimal scene. I always loved minimal music, or some tunes to make more beautiful the moment. Thats why some Indi Scifi Movies sucks.. because their bad edition of the movie with silly wannabe Hollywood music. There is a very smart choice of music in the Indi Movie "The Man from Earth" (2007) written by Jerome Bixby, and directed by Richard Schenkman. And the good and brillant thing here is that all the movie is filmed in one only location. And last but not least, I always loved to put a music over a music, imagine a street scene with rap music listening by a streetgang, but its a sad story the soundtrack starts to eclipse the rap music, you can see that in Menace2Society.

Kat M.

Did anyone catch that Spike's t-shirt (Boycott Sal's) is paying homage to Do The Right Thing? Another great class! I hired a composer for my short film, and it was one of the best decisions I made! We really collaborated regarding the feel and tone of each scene and character. These last two classes, really helped expand my understanding for the next project. A big shout out to Spike's Dad, who instilled in him a love for music!

R.G. R.

Watching his films, you can hear what he was thinking and the power of the genre of music he chooses for each film. Excellent feel for how certain types of music work. Powerful lesson here.

Rich L.

Anyone In Orlando , Im Down To Link Up & Put Our Creative Minds Together To Work On What We All Love. The Creative Process Os A Beautiful Thing , Spike Lee Your Class Was Amazing . Thank You For All The Knowledge.

Gwendolyn C.

At 14:17 there's a shocked or serious look and apoint now I can't seem to get the lesson to continue. That is an interesting still. LOL!

Kae R.

I wrote and co-produced a music demo in 1998 and 2000, so I had some understanding when it came to music and sound design for my short film, but going through that post-pro process, even with using original music was an eye opener and just made me have mucho respect for those that do it. Same with editing. It's meticulous and time consuming but an important part of storytelling. So Spike's candid guidance just makes that experience sink in all the more.