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Arts & Entertainment

Storyboards: Malcolm X

Spike Lee

Lesson time 03:50 min

Using his original storyboards for the assassination scene in Malcolm X, Spike illustrates the construction of a scene, and the level of detail required to create the illusion of chaos.

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.

Mr. Lee expressed his hope, students would be able to use this information. There was so much, looking forward to applying experience, not just theory.

I am an independent filmmaker at 65 years old. I have made multiple documentaries and other types of short work and I have for my entire career been influenced by Spike Lee. i am, at this point in life, seeking to do more not less, and this class was both VERY informative, and deeply inspiring. It is my first Master Class and it is, by itself, worth 10x what I paid. Thank you.

One memorable class included Spike Lee's definition of "Colors" in a musical score. I have a long history in the visual arts but have never really thought of the various instruments as colors. This opened my mind greatly in how to communicate ideas with score composers.

Great class. SL is a great artist and a promotor and master of independent cinema


Maxim O.

Does anyone have any advice on how to secure the right storyboard artist for a film?

Alex G.

Thank you Spike for sharing these with us. That scene is so powerful. As a professional storyboard artist myself, I am always encouraging other filmmakers to invest in the process. Nowadays, digitally drawn storyboards or 3d previs can be edited like footage from a camera to elicit an emotional reaction. It also invites other departments and investors to see a vision and start a deeper discussion about the goals. Storyboards can be used for more than just big money days, every production day is a big money day.

Chava G.

Building, Brother, Building: your story book boards are as essential as your box of cards, plot, script, cinematogic logic, choices to be made, money to be raised, accrued development, talent to be chosen, product to be produced, feeding folks, having choices and honing the process to an awe inspired audience. Aw shucks now!

Deborah R.

Filmmaking is like architecture. Lots of detailed plans and blueprints. A storyboard is like a blueprint. Nothing should be left to chance. Can you imagine the expense of an assassination scene or other high action scenes like a high speed chase or an explosion?


Great information! Good for me since I used to intern at Marvel and used to draw comics fairly well.

Kevin G.

One thing I am learning consistently in these lessons is to respect the time and its availability by planing. Storyboards is one of the best ways to map out your shots and organize visually. Thank you for sharing your storyboards with us.


These storyboards are a piece of art. I always have a laugh when people look at mine, as they are very basic but they communicate what I want to my DP.

Loue G.

Great Lesson and i wish that it is long and more information .. thank you lee

Earl M.

I always appreciate hearing and seeing how some directors use their storyboards even though I have only used a shot-list. One of these days I'm going to try it. My issue is that I see the scene in my head and know what shots I want and I'm too lazy to draw it out. I have to remember that my DP can't see into my head. Thank you for the encouragement and presenting your storyboard style. Very inspiring.

Janet L.

What a treat to watch Spike Lee going through his storyboards and explaining the shots from one of his best films. I admire his work and unique voice and style.