×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Spike Lee: ‘Where the Money is, That’s Where Filmmakers Have to Go’

LOS CABOS, Mexico — Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee visited this year’s Los Cabos Festival where Lee received a lifetime achievement award, his “BlacKkKlansman” closing out the festivities, and Lewis Lee donned her producer hat for an impassioned roundtable on the drama series boom that has been attracting so many independent producers and filmmakers.

A key topic throughout the festival was the question of rights. For many independent producers at the festival, while the deep pockets of big-time digital platforms are certainly appealing, it’s often a struggle to retain any rights. According to Lewis Lee however, in the case of the series “She’s Gotta Have It,” that wasn’t much of an issue.

“We have the IP,” she admitted during the roundtable. “It’s been a good situation for us. Of course I’m talking about Spike Lee, I don’t know if it’s different for other people without that history.”

Spike went into deeper details in an interview with Variety, saying “It’s a blessing, I’ll tell you why. We were shopping ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ to several places, but nobody said yes. Then, two years went by and the rights reverted back to me. So when Tonya and I went to Netflix I now owned the rights. Think about that, what happens if those other people had decided to do it? The fact I owned the rights was better for me, big time.”

One major difference with the series is that now Spike is part of a writers’ room. When asked about handing his decades-old story and characters over to a new group of writers, he couldn’t have been more cool with it.

“It’s great. I wrote two episodes for the first season and one second season. I cannot write every single episode,” he said before emphasizing that the series needed a writers’ room with African American women in it.

“It was not difficult getting very good writers,” he went on, explaining the talent search to staff the room. “We have some women who were playwrights, but if you can write, you can write. And they could write”

As to what’s next? “Making more movies. I wanna do a musical one day. There are a lot of musical elements in my films. One day I wanna do a whole singing and dancing musical.”

When asked if he would ever return to another of his stories as he has with “She’s Gotta Have It,” he said there was likely only one he would consider. “Hopefully one day we are gonna do a Broadway show of my second film ‘School Daze.’”

Asked what kinds of partners and platforms he might like to work with in the future, his answer was candid. “In my career I’ve had one foot in the indie world, one in the studio world. Where the money is, that’s where filmmakers have to go. Where the money is.”

With only good things to say about his partnership with Netflix, the filmmaker did clarify that should he make a feature film with the company, he wants theatrical.

“Yeah I would ask for that,” he said, before finishing, “I would ask for a lot more too.”

More Film

  • Of Fathers and Sons

    Producer of Oscar-Nommed Syria Documentary Could Miss Awards Due to Visa Problem

    A German producer’s hopes to attend Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, where his film is up for an Oscar, look likely to be dashed by tightened U.S. Department of Homeland Security restrictions and increased bureaucracy. Hans Robert Eisenhauer is one of the producers of “Of Fathers and Sons,” director Talal Derki’s film about a radical Islamist [...]

  • Speaker of the United States House

    Nancy Pelosi, Ava DuVernay Honored at VH1 Trailblazers Event

    Cher is feeling a little better about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. “When I see Trump spew his hate and tell his gazillion lies, I get pissed off and feel uneasy at the same time,” the Oscar winner and frequent Trump critic said Wednesday while introducing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at VH1 Trailblazers [...]

  • Most Memorable Oscar Speeches in Academy

    The Most Memorable Oscar Speeches in Academy History

    No Academy Awards is complete without some emotional acceptance speeches on stage – and some political ones to boot. With just 90 seconds to make an impact, many actors have used the platform as a voice for political change, calling attention to hot-button issues like climate change and gender equality, while others have simply reveled [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Arrested, in Custody of Chicago Police

    Jussie Smollett has been arrested and faces criminal charges for allegedly filing a false police report and for disorderly conduct. Chicago police tweeted Thursday morning that the “Empire” actor was under arrest and in custody of detectives. Smollett claimed that he had been attacked by two men on Jan. 29 — he said they beat [...]

  • Billie Holiday (1915-1959, born Eleanora Fagan)

    Billie Holiday Documentary Draws Buyers as Concord Boards Project

    Concord, the successor to the Billie Holiday Estate, has boarded James Erskine’s documentary “Billie,” which tracks the iconic jazz singer’s life. Altitude Film Sales has sold the project to several territories. Also joining the project, now in post-production, is the Brazilian colorization artist Marina Amaral. Most of the filmed and still images that exist of [...]

  • My Extraordinary Summer With Tess review

    Film Review: 'My Extraordinary Summer With Tess'

    Winner of a special mention from the Berlinale Generation KPlus’ adult jury, the family-friendly, light drama “My Extraordinary Summer With Tess” is straightforward youth cinema with surprising emotional depth. Based on a prize-winning novel by Anna Woltz, a beloved Dutch writer of work for young readers, it explores family relationships and emphasizes the importance of [...]

  • UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report: Women, Minorities

    Hollywood Diversity Gains in TV but Falls Short in Movies

    Minorities and women have registered gains in several key areas of television but women continue to lag in movies, according to a report issued Thursday by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. “My basic take is that TV is improving more for minorities and women than film,” said Dr. Darnell [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content