Chapter 5 of 19 from Spike Lee

Spike's Film 101s Pt. 1


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.

Topics include: Budgeting Takes Compromise • Do It Yourself • Feed Them Now, Pay Them Later • Respect Your Locations • Designate Your Cover Sets • Crew Diversity

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.

Topics include: Budgeting Takes Compromise • Do It Yourself • Feed Them Now, Pay Them Later • Respect Your Locations • Designate Your Cover Sets • Crew Diversity

Spike Lee

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 class, the visionary behind Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and BlacKkKlansman lets you in on his uncompromising approach to filmmaking. Learn about writing, self-producing, working with actors, and making movies that break down barriers.

Spike Lee opens the doors of his Brooklyn office to teach filmmaking through scripts and storyboards from some of his greatest films.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Spike will answer select student questions.


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

Through and through incredibly helpful and comprehensive class! Thank you Mr.Lee!

Loved the honesty and practical, no nonsense lessons of Spike Lee.

This is one class that I really wanted to do. I knew this one would be very interesting. Above all, Spike says it like it really is, which I liked. There was some good advice about music.

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


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.

R.G. R.

What might seem like common sense doesn't always work if one is a young filmmaker that wants his or her way no matter what--some really good and wise advice here.

Michael D.

I LOVE Spike Lee's Masterclass. It's straight up great, practical, and real. And great common sense advice.

Ray U.

I liked this lesson. Food is definitely important. I have not made any features and I could see myself working on a low budget production so good practical advice here, plan, plan, plan!!! Don't worry about losing locations!! :)

Deborah R.

This lesson on budgets is perfect timing for me. I'm now working with a line producer to complete a budget for a feature film I've written. Compromise is definitely the operative word. Also I completed a short 15 min film with virtually $0 budget and paid out of pocket for craft services and insurance. What Spike said is so true about how if the cast and crew are on board because they have a love for the story line it will get made. That's what happened in my case. In return (which is soft $) everyone gets to practice their craft and include the work in their portfolio. The short went on to get a few awards, and now now everyone can add that to their portfolios which is important for those trying to build their careers. Thanks Spike for keeping it real!

Hassan S.

This is great! We're getting down to the nuts and bolts! a lot of common sense.