Film & TV

Spike's Film 101s Pt. 1

Spike Lee

Lesson time 07:36 min

Learn Spike’s tips for creating realistic budgets and shooting schedules (and sticking to them), working on location, and how to make your crew feel appreciated.

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.

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.

Loved this, felt inspired and motivated to crack on on make my movies. Unfortunately didn't touch on marketing your indie, but great nevertheless.

Mr. Lee's methods and philosophy are brutally honest and inspiring. The way he shares his deeper process is invaluable--far beyond the mechanics of filmmaking that one can learn in a traditional class. He shares the mindset of a brilliant filmmaker, driven to tell stories that shape the collective consciousness. Thank you Mr. Lee.

This MasterClass is like a story telling session. Hooked me from the word go and kept me present till the end. Concise, packed full of information that one can immediately apply. This is a true #goto class. Mr Lee is a generous teacher. Thank you :)


Maxim O.

I find this lesson really helpful because we all have big dreams as filmmakers and to know that he had to shelf one of his projects for later on is very relatable.

Ben W.

I get the real feeling that Spike Lee is doing his best to level with us, to say it like it is, to bring us along as fellow filmmakers. I like that.

Chava G.

Good home training, thanks Master Class, Baba Teacher Spike for raising us right!!

George B.

Great lesson! Although I am having difficulty finding the Variety synopsis in the workbook, I can't find it when i click the link...

Carolyn S.

Pure genius - what an honor to be able to listen to Spike describe his process, concepts, inspiration and his storytelling approach. Bravo Spike! BRAVO!!!

Michael U.

Spike Lee brings up a great point. On the shoots, I have been involved in the technical and support staff talked more about the catering provided than the actual scenes, acting or anything else associated with the movie.

Terrence E.

Filmmakers, let's connect. Add me on Instagram or e-mail me. IG: TerrenceTEdwards Email: Based in Los Angeles.

John G.

Spike, I love you, man! I’ve been a big fan of yours for many years. Your movies are amazing. You have a very intelligent way to get your point across in your films. I especially love “Do The Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever.” What I especially liked was watching your “Table Read” for Do The Right Thing, and how you selected Rosie Perez, Martin Lawrence, and Roger Guenveur Smith as Smiley. Watching your master class has been a truly revealing experience for me. Your presentation was very easy to understand, I could feel your honesty throughout. I also love your humor.. the financing of Malcolm X. You made me laugh until I cried when you talked about Magic & MJ. I also liked your section about “On The Waterfront” and it’s similarly to the Colin Kaepernick situation. You hit that one right on the mark! Spike, I’ve watched a few other Master Classes and yours is my #1 favorite! Thank you so much!

Tino T.

Filming here in Spain, Europe its more easier, you get the permision very fast, and dont need to pay for it, unless you want to close a road or street. Mobile Filmset is the best way to shoot for free, but once you bring your equipment you are hindering people to pass through and that can only be done when you pay the license for renting the place, street, building what ever! Shooting in Historic places is more complicated, especially if a script can be negative to the historic place. It makes sense.... you need to know, that Europe is the old continent, and places like Spain who survived the second world war, have very old buildings and places (some more than 4000 years old) intact... Same goes with identity buildings (cultural and religious) Imagine shooting a horror scene in "Santiago de Compostela Cathedral".. its a no go, but for the same reason like is a no go to shoot an erotic movie inside a church, sinagoge or mosque... its all about civic behaviour. Thats why in Europe there is a kind of administration for this things, and they really help you a lot. A long play film in Europe costs between 3 to 9 million euros, it depends how complex it is. And we really do a lot of awesome movies, compare this with Hollywood Movies, 40 - 400 million euros... why is that European Movies are more loved than Hollywood? On the other Hand, American Indi Movies are awesome, and when we were in Sundance Film Festival I always said to myself, that there are soooooooo many awesome creative filmmakers in USA, its a shame they have no place in the Hollywood Industry. Because Americans KNOW how to make movies same like Europeans, and they KNOW how to write correct dialogs etc... Anyway, back to the part, where behaviour is everything during the set. Totally agree! Thats why i dont like work with filmschool students, i always prefered professional, because they are different and I had very bad experiencies with students, they are sooooo theorical and did not develop the guerilla tactic for filming (without improvisation skills etc)... And always "bitching" or anoying filmdirectors lol...

Gwendolyn C.

This is great information. Although I am not a filmmaker it is very interesting to see the process. Speeding through this course I have a funny feeling my a year limit might run out soon. If time permits I'll then return to complete some of the assignments.