This article (Spike Lee Masterclass Review) will provide you with the opportunity to read an in-depth evaluation of Spike Lee’s Masterclass, including information on how the lessons are presented, who the course is best suited for, the cost, and what I enjoyed about it, etc.
Do the Right Thing and She’s Gotta Have It are the two movies that have brought Spike Lee the most recognition as a director and earned him an Academy Award. Spike Lee is a well-respected figure in the world of filmmaking due to the fact that Entertainment Weekly ranked him as the 48th best director of all time.
An opportunity to learn about independent filmmaking from one of the most productive directors in the United States is provided through the Spike Lee MasterClass.
If you are interested in reading this Spike Lee MasterClass Review, it is likely because you are curious to find out whether or not this class is a decent one to enroll in. Before I continue, let me briefly summarise the points I will be making:
Who Is Spike Lee?
Spike Lee (Shelton Jackson) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor. His production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has produced more than 35 films since 1983. He made his directorial debut with She’s Gotta Have It.
“She’s Gotta Have It” which Spike Lee directed and produced for the first time, was released in 1986. As an independent filmmaker in New York City, he became well-known for his work as an actor, writer, and producer in addition to his directing and producing roles.
In 2004, he attended the American Black Film Festival and was presented with the Time Warner Innovator Award. This MasterClass is the best watching option available for anyone interested in learning how to adapt their written ideas for the screen.
Spike Lee may also be found on Twitter, where he has 11,000 followers and where he often disseminates interesting content.
What Is MasterClass?
MasterClass is an online educational resource that was established in 2015. Its mission is to ensure that users learn from the very best in their fields. When it comes to online education, MasterClass has quickly risen to the top of the list due to the fact that it offers more than 80 video classes taught by well-known celebrities.
The teaching panel for MasterClass includes notable figures such as Anna Wintour, Gordon Ramsay, and even Tony Hawk. Their courses come equipped with high-quality production values and a variety of additional learning resources to assist students.
You have the option of paying $90 for a single course or opting for an all-access pass, which grants you access to an unlimited number of courses for the duration of your annual subscription.
Without a shadow of a doubt, MasterClass has revolutionized the field of online education. Considering how young this company is, I can’t wait to find out what the future holds for us thanks to this platform.
However, it’s possible that MasterClass isn’t the right fit for everyone. My goal is to provide you with an in-depth analysis of this class so that you can determine for yourself whether or not you should enroll in MasterClass.
Course Overview: Spike Lee Masterclass Review
An average of 10 minutes per class is allotted in Spike Lee’s course, which consists of 19 lessons. A Community Hub, comment area, and a 56-page Workbook are all available through MasterClass for this course. What you’ll learn and why it’s important are laid out in a brief introduction by Spike.
Putting Words on Paper
Spike Lee sets the ground rules for his MasterClass at the outset:
- The first thing to keep in mind is that there is no single path to becoming a filmmaker.
- Secondly, he is not interested in theory.
From the beginning, I could tell that Spike had a straightforward approach to filmmaking.
Newcomers to the art of acting are not welcome in this session. While Spike isn’t a fan of the 3-act structure, for example, As a result, he insists on relying on the plot to guide us through the filmmaking process.
It’s in this “idea-conception” stage that we uncover and deliberate the story we’ll tell that Spike gets its start. If we’re going to succeed, Spike tells us, we need to be passionate about our ideas.
Storytelling and Camera Coverage
As soon as we get an idea, the next step is to figure out how to depict that notion most effectively on screen. Spike is of the opinion that there is no magic formula for achieving this, and that to imagine that there is may actually work against us rather than for us.
He instructs us on how to perform the following tasks:
- Identify the many people who appear in our narratives.
- Find tales that have a meaningful connection to both us and the world we live in today.
- Strive for contrast and character in your photography.
- Make use of the score to accompany the story.
- Create some distance between ourselves and the people we are presenting.
Storytelling for Documentaries
Even if documentary films are less well-known than his feature films, Spike devotes a lesson. If you want to see an example of how he adapted a story to another media, go no further than 4 Little Girls (about the 1963 Birmingham bombing).
It’s fascinating to hear what was going through Spike’s head while he was devising the strategy. The author explains his approach to dealing with such a difficult subject and how he strove to present an accurate account from the viewpoints of the witnesses.
Using Spike, we learn how to:
- Approach one-on-one interviews
- The subject matter should be handled sensitively.
- Make documentary films a reality by working with editors.
- As a form of activism, use other genres
Speaking Truth to Power: On the Waterfront
The film On the Waterfront provided Spike with an example of how one of his favorite scenes might be used to convey a story and represent the political climate of the period. In order to better understand the situation, he provides some background information about the film.
Spike likens Colin Kaepernick in the NFL to Marlon Brando’s character in the film. Elia’s work is compared to that of Kaepernick by Spike, who provides extensive scene analysis.
What we discover is this:
- relevance of old movies in the modern world
- Film’s potential for social and political commentary is greater than first thought.
- Every decision we make in cinematography has an impact on the story we want to tell.
Spike Lee’s Film 101s
Spike explores some of the challenging realities that come with funding our movies and making concessions to them, with a strong emphasis on the indie filmmaking community.
Spike does an excellent job of highlighting some of the challenges that come with making independent films, which is something that I did not see covered in any of the other MasterClasses. While doing so, he educates us in the following skills:
- Examine the organization’s lack of financial stability in the context of the creative possibilities it presents.
- Encourage a sense of self-reliance and self-determination.
- Determine a budget
- When it comes to compensation, you should negotiate with the cast and crew and be willing to compromise.
Casting and Directing Actors
Finding the correct performers to depict the characters in a story is just as important as the characters themselves. As Spike explains, we need to take our time with casting, and this is an important lesson to remember.
Other directors, I’d heard from stressed the importance of good chemistry between actors and the director’s desire to see the project through from beginning to end, and Spike was no exception. Halle Berry and Rosie Perez were auditioned by Spike in order to obtain a better sense of their potential.
The following is also part of his instruction:
- When it comes to casting a film, look for fresh faces.
- Casting agents should hear our ideas.
- Build good ties with the cast and crew members you work with.
- Actors should be able to contribute their own ideas.
- Actors should be cast as a group.
- Establish mutual respect and trust between the director and the actor.
Collaborations: Actors and Director of Photography
Spike is of the opinion that, in addition to casting actors, the director of photography should also be subjected to auditions. However, in order to ensure that our Director of Photography is able to enhance our visions, we need to exercise discretion in the recruiting process.
Spike gives some thought to the following topics in this chapter:
- When looking to hire a director of photography, these are some important factors to consider.
- How to utilize the budget to figure out how much time is spent on each shot
- The significance of making detailed plans before beginning production
- How to articulate your goals and intentions to the DP
- When working together, what should take precedence?
Opening Title Sequences
My knowledge of Spike Lee’s films is limited, but I am aware of the highly stylized title sequences that appear in many of his productions. According to Spike, the first few minutes of a movie are critical because they set the stage for what’s to come by getting the audience in the appropriate frame of mind.
The opening segments set the tone for the rest of the movie for Spike. This section includes a few instances from Spike. A few examples are “Mo’ Better Blues,” “25th Hour,” and “Black Klansman.”
Throughout the film, Spike talks us about his use of sound design, lighting, and color to create the universe of the film. In addition to discussing the motivation behind his title sequences, he also discusses the story’s overarching theme.
Seeing how cinematography works and the results of different choices was helpful for me because I learn best visually.
Music Is Key
Here, Spike talks about the importance of the film’s composer. The composer, like the actors and the director of photography, is an important co-worker who should be treated with the same respect as any other member of the filmmaking team.
Spike recommends having composers on board as soon as possible so that they can have a hands-on role in the filmmaking process from the beginning. He explains why he enjoys working with Terence Blanchard and Bruce Hornsby, two of his favorite musicians.
In this part, he primarily discusses their collaborative process, but he also touches on the following topics:
- Sketching out a character’s “personality”
- Creating a score from a source.
- comparing and contrasting our respective musical concepts
- The usage of “color” in music
- incorporating music into a presentation
Spike didn’t see filmmaking as a linear process from the writing to the screen, which I found interesting. Instead, he stressed the importance of working on multiple areas of the film at once, including editing while we shot!
Spike provides us with some great advice on how to approach editing, including what he looks for while cutting and how to edit to enhance a scene’s purpose. To demonstrate this, he uses various photos of Kwame Ture’s speech on black power in BlackKklansman.
Film as an Agent of Change
Spike narrows his attention in the final sections of his essay to the power of movies to inspire social change. He emphasizes the “false narrative” that the United States has created, in part because of the demeaning portrayal of African-Americans in films like Tarzan.
My favorite part of this course was Spike’s mission to dispel the racial myths that have been promoted in American film. Sections like this one are likely familiar to anyone who are familiar with Spike’s work.
Pros & Cons – Spike Lee Masterclass Review
Study with a Prominent Independent Filmmaker
Spike Lee is a household name in the United States, at least. For BlackKklansman, he was awarded the Academy Award for Best Director in 2018. His directorial voice is forceful and hard to ignore when it comes to race concerns.
This MasterClass is a rare opportunity to study under one of the most accomplished American filmmakers of our time while also venturing outside of the box office norm. Because of the course’s condensed structure, Spike’s straightforward teaching style is ideal.
Spike’s teaching approach (and the needs of his pupils) are clearly taken into account in the course design of MasterClass. The videos are short yet packed with information, and the combination of auditory and visual learning keeps us interested.
Strong examples and case studies
The course’s emphasis on imagery was one of its strongest points. Images and videos were used to demonstrate how cinematography appears on the screen in support of Spike’s teachings. This is beneficial for students who are unable to attend classes in person.
If you prefer to study visually and kinetically, this is an excellent tool because it allows you to actively participate in the investigation of a scenario. For example, Spike’s instruction is based on his own work and vintage movies. I believe this is the most effective way to learn about visual media like movies or television.
Simple to Follow Instruction
In the last paragraph, I described Spike’s teaching style as candid and honest. While teaching at Harvard in the 1990s he was well-versed in public speaking and conveying his thoughts to an audience.
Spike, on the other hand, isn’t afraid to show us his original scripts and index cards for his movies, and he does it frequently. My previous MasterClasses had lecturers who were hesitant to divulge too much of their expertise, so this was a welcome change.
When it comes to plotting and creating situations, Spike takes us through the process step-by-step. A great resource for aspiring filmmakers who want to see some real-world examples of where and how to get started.
Workbooks like Spike’s are some of the most visually appealing and informative that I’ve seen on MasterClass. In fact, the PDF resource gives us the following additional features:
- A complete teacher biographical information
- The complete filmography of Spike
- Recommendations for reading and watching
- Summaries of each chapter and subchapter.
- Assignments and “Learn more”
- Appendices and tidbits
When compared to some other Workbooks, Spike’s contains a lot of illustrations and color coordination, making it easier for readers to stay involved and move to important sections. In addition to the video content, it offers additional learning opportunities and projects for readers.
Spike makes it apparent from an away that this is not going to be a dry, academic course. For this reason, a course taught by David Mamet would be more suitable if you’re searching for theory-heavy content.
An alternative approach is taken by filmmaker Spike Lee, who discusses the day-to-day challenges of being an independent filmmaker. In addition to partnering with cinematographers and songwriters, he places a lot of emphasis on this.
Spike’s course, on the other hand, is best suited to individuals who already have a basic understanding of filmmaking. Spike’s audience is likely to be those who have recently graduated from film school and are eager to get their hands dirty in the industry.
Good Community Hub
In addition to the high-quality Workbook, Spike’s community center is an excellent area to investigate further learning opportunities and engage in class discussion. A member of the MasterClass team will, at various points throughout each thread, introduce a topic for discussion that is connected to the material covered in the class.
For many people, this is an excellent approach to consolidating what they have learned and discussing their thoughts. Users can get feedback on their script ideas and even dispute areas of Spike’s teaching that they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to discuss due to the nature of the platform.
Spike’s MasterClass is currently accessible in English, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing can make use of the subtitles. Because it is still a relatively new resource, MasterClass is eager to extend its captions so that it may appeal to a greater number of people.
Having said that, I must say that I am quite impressed with the fact that MasterClass does not use automatically generated subtitles. Instead, considerable consideration is given to each lesson to ensure that all of the text is understandable and straightforward and that it corresponds appropriately with the material presented in the videos.
Confusing Course organization
I found Spike’s MasterClass to be lacking in any kind of logical course structure when compared to other MasterClasses. The lesson plans are fragmented and do not appear to be organized in a logical progression. For instance, there are multiple chapters that are devoted to narrating stories, but they do not follow one another in sequential order from the previous one.
The organization of the course may appear haphazard at times. Spike begins by telling stories, then moves on to acting, then creates storyboards, and finally returns to acting. The transition from one topic to the next was not always clear to me, and I believe that this is an aspect that MasterClass ought to take into consideration in the future, particularly in regard to its more condensed classes.
Not for Beginners
Despite Spike’s efforts to avoid jargon, this course is not a good fit for those who are just starting out. Instead of explaining camera operation, vocabulary, or providing any practical demonstrations, it just assumes that the viewer has some fundamental cinema expertise.
It’s Spike’s doorway into the class, a step-by-step guide to developing an idea, planning a script, and securing the perfect cast and crew to realize your vision. If you’re a student in film school and want to make your first feature film, this course is for you!
As I have stated, Spike has an unwavering aversion to cinema theory. A three-act structure isn’t even an option for him; he insists on the restrictiveness of any formula.
When it comes to filmmaking, Spike favors experimentation over adhering to the established norms of cinema. As he sarcastically observes, “
“There are so many rules. ” “Whose rule is that?”
Filmmaking with a Socio-Political Focus
Who knows Spike Lee’s desire to show racial tensions and to bring more diversity to the big screen in his films? It’s worth emphasizing that, despite the fact that just a few of Spike’s films are clearly about activism, this is a significant component of his filmmaking.
A different course could be more appropriate if you’re seeking more humorous and “purely entertainment” lessons in filmmaking. With his passion for promoting equality and diversity, it’s easy to see why Spike is so enthusiastic about promoting his “message” to his audience.
Less Suited to Non-Independent Filmmaking
Spike Lee veers away from conventional Hollywood movies in favor of depicting the underlying truths of racial tensions in the United States, which is something that should be obvious by this point.
Although this is by no means the sole characteristic that distinguishes Spike’s films, I believe it is important to take note of it when determining whatever aspect of filmmaking you are interested in learning more about.
Who Should Take This Course?
This course is designed for students who are intermediate to advanced in skill level, ranging from 3 to 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. Some of the fundamentals of writing a screenplay are covered in Spike’s course.
This course needs a lot of prior knowledge of cinematography, music, and lighting in order to succeed. In my opinion, this course is best suited to recent graduates of film schools who are looking to begin their careers in the industry.
This course, as stated by MasterClass, teaches the art of making independent films. Taking this into consideration, you may anticipate gaining a great deal of knowledge about managing several tasks, securing funding, and negotiating with your team members.
You can expect to learn the following in this course:
- With actors and crew, build a trusting relationship
- Prepare your film’s budget and sources of finance.
- Put together a stellar cast within your specified price range.
- Become a part of the industry’s network of influencers
- Criticism should be taken into consideration.
- Your movie’s cast and crew should be carefully selected
Course Cost & Pricing – Spike Lee Masterclass Review
Single Course Payment
The charge for a single course is ninety dollars. This grants you access to any one course on an unlimited basis. Once you’ve paid for anything, you own it for life. This includes any and all supplemental materials that are provided along with the MasterClass.
This works out to be less than $30 per hour for Spike’s class, which is a respectable rate for any filmmaking course, regardless of whether it is taught by a celebrity or not.
The all-access pass is a subscription service that costs $180 per year to use. Because of this, you will have access to an infinite number of classes during the academic year. You are free to combine components from multiple topics and start and stop your participation at any point.
I believe that this is the most beneficial use of your money if you have a specific interest in the subject matter. You can receive instruction in filmmaking from a wide variety of professionals, allowing you to study a broad range of subfields.
In addition to these two different ways to make a purchase, MasterClass now offers a gift option. It is important to keep in mind that MasterClass will issue refunds within the first thirty days if they are requested.
Spike Lee Masterclass Review: Is It Worth It?
If you’re interested in making your own independent films, I’d recommend taking this course. Spike teaches a lot about how to raise money for your film and how to get it out there.
Many topics are covered, including teamwork, producing title sequences, and editing your film. As a result, those who are only interested in acquiring theory or analysis will find it less useful.
- Take a filmmaking class from a seasoned pro.
- Strong examples and case studies
- Easy-to-understand instruction
- A difficult course that is not appropriate for those with no prior knowledge of the subject matter
- a concentration on socially conscious filmmaking
- The course is less theory-based than most others.
What you’ll learn in this MasterClass is how to:
- Find and develop film concepts that are interesting enough to be made into films
- Create a script and a shot list for a film.
- Build a team and raise money for your films.
- To tell a tale, use visuals and music.
- Utilize your time in the editing room to the fullest.
- The film may be a powerful tool for social change and advocacy.
$90 may seem pricey, but examine what you want from MasterClass. If you like Spike’s lesson plan, buy it.
If you’re open to other film classes, the $180 all-access pass is a greater value. Including directing, screenwriting, and creativity.
Spike’s course excels at using movies for social commentary and activism. It’s designed for independent filmmaking, so you’ll learn about funding and completing your project.
Spike’s MasterClass in Independent Filmmaking is a good investment. “Grab a camera and go,” Spike advises.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is Spike Lee’s MasterClass?
There are 19 lessons, and the total time is somewhat more than 3 hours.
The Spike Lee MasterClass costs how much?
For $90, students can learn from Spike Lee in his MasterClass. You will have access to the class and its resources for the rest of your life. A one-year all-access pass gives you access to all 80+ courses that are offered for that time period.
Does Spike Lee’s MasterClass come without a cost?
Spike’s MasterClass is not available for free. In order to get around this, someone else would have to purchase the item for you.
Does MasterClass have a refund policy as well?
Purchasing from MasterClass comes with a 30-day refund policy. If you buy from a different vendor, their return policy may be different from yours.
What does Spike Lee teach?
Spike Lee Teaches Independent Filmmaking. Spike Lee, the winner of an Academy Award for Best Film Directing, shares his method for directing, writing and producing films with students.
What are the most famous Spike Lee movies?
Crooklyn (1994): Crooklyn is the director’s most heartfelt work; if Bamboozled is his most stinging film, Crooklyn is his most heartfelt film.