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Interview: Spike Lee Talks to S&A About His Next Film, Casting New Talent, and Why He's Taking to Kickstarter

Photo of Jai Tiggett By Jai Tiggett | Shadow and Act July 24, 2013 at 4:49PM

As Tambay noted yesterday, I got a chance to talk one-on-one with director Spike Lee about his recently launched Kickstarter campaign to raise $1.25 million for his next feature film. Specifically, he's said that he reads this site and others, is aware of both the positive and negative responses to his campaign, and wanted to address some details about his project and what it means.
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Spike Lee

As Tambay noted yesterday, I got a chance to talk one-on-one with director Spike Lee about his recently launched Kickstarter campaign to raise $1.25 million for his next feature film. Specifically, he's said that he reads this site and others, is aware of both the positive and negative responses to his campaign, and wanted to address some details about his project and what it means. 

We haven't learned much about the movie's plot so far other than it's a psychological thriller about "people addicted to blood." But he was reluctant to share much more than that, citing that Hollywood has ruined much of the element of surprise for audiences

SPIKE LEE: They put everything in the trailer. Nowadays you can see a trailer and you don't even have to see the film because you know what's gonna happen. Also, the film you're watching is the fourth edition of the movie anyway. So with this particular film, this subject matter, I feel that for it to work the audience should be surprised. They don't have to know all the exact plot points. I don't want to go to a movie where I know everything that's gonna happen. I want there to be a sense of discovery. 

He did add that, stylistically, audiences can expect to see some entirely new elements from him, as well as humor and risque  subject matter: 

It'll be brand new, but you know it's going have "the dolly shot" in there. There is going to be a sensuality in this film that we haven't had since She's Gotta Have It. Black, naked people. Butt naked. Hey, I'd pay $20 for that [laughs]. 

Is he concerned at all that not sharing much of the plot might hinder people from donating? 

This is a free country. For whatever reason, somebody might say, "I'm not giving Spike a dime because I hate the mf-ing Knicks." What am I gonna do? I can't sit around and worry about people who aren't gonna do it. 

Rather than knowing about the film itself, he suggested that people should contribute based on what they know of him and his past work:

What did Wesley [Snipes] say in that film? "Bet on black." If you're going to the racetrack and you look at your card, there's a horse that's been around and never won. Then you see another [winning] horse. Now switch it to filmmaking and include She's Gotta Have It, School Days, Mo Betta Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Inside Man, 4 Little Girls, When The Levees Broke, Bamboozled, 25th Hour, Crooklyn. Old Boy's coming out. Who are you putting your money on? 

That's why I felt it was important to include my body of work [on Kickstarter], because mf-ers be forgettin. They need to go to IMDb and look at the body of work I've amassed over these 30 years. People are forgettin, and I don't mind reminding them. 

As for the cast, there are no actors attached as yet, but he does have people in mind and is specifically looking to cast new and unknown talent:

There won't be established names in it. We can't afford it. These will be young, talented people and if God is willing and the creek don't rise, we'll get the money. And they're gonna blow up. [There are] people on the come up who are perfect, I feel, for the role and have an abundance of talent and just need a platform. The same way that Do The Right Thing was Rosie Perez's and Martin Lawrence's first film, Jungle Fever was Halle Berry's and Queen Latifah's first film, Clockers was Mekhi Phifer's first film, and on and on. That's what these roles are. They can provide a breakthrough. 

And he's planning to shoot the film locally in Brooklyn, New York: 

This'll be another chapter in my chronicles of Brooklyn, New York - She's Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Crooklyn, Clockers, some of Jungle Fever, Red Hook Summer. 

He's arguably one of the best known filmmakers working, not only due to his body of work but also the attention he's gotten in the media. As for concerns about his Kickstarter campaign due to the idea that he has, or should easily be able access $1.25 million elsewhere, he said that's not true:

Are we talking about Hollywood access? Hollywood would not make this film. And once you take money from a studio then they try to say, "We want so-and-so in it," and that type of stuff. I don't want to go through that. This is a very personal film. It's an independent film. This is a film that's not gonna make $500 million. It's not that type of game. 

This article is related to: Spike Lee


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