spike lee essay

Submitted By Nina-Ejirika
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Spike Lee has always been one of the many directors who in always wanted to keep his or her audience socially aware. Spike Lee is an American filmmaker, producer, writer, and actor. He is most known for his films such as: Malcolm X, She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing and School Daze which made Lee famous, making him one of the most, if not the most, important Black filmmakers of today. Spike Lee was born Shelton Jackson Lee on March 20, 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia. At a very young age, he moved from Georgia to Brooklyn, New York. Lee came from artistic, education-based upbringing. His father Bill Lee was a jazz musician, and his mother Mary Lee, a schoolteacher. There he attended John Dewey High School. He his nickname of "Spike" from his mother. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and developed his film making skills at Clark Atlanta University. After graduating from Morehouse, Lee attended the Tisch School of Arts graduate film program. While attending film school, he made his first student film for his thesis called Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads” which won an Academy award for “Best Student Film” At New York University, he received his Master’s degree of Fine Arts in Film & Television. Lee’s experience at NYU Tisch School of the Arts was very difficult due to being one of the few African American students. While Lee’s experiences, race, and background all led him to create controversial films that provided audiences with an insight into racial issues, elements of his signature cinematic style are directly influenced by the works of fellow filmmaker Martin Scorsese which can be seen in his classic films: Do the Right Thing and She’s Gotta Have It.
Martin Scorsese has been acknowledged as he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and influential filmmakers in cinema history. Hailing from Flushing, New York, Scorsese is known for his gritty, meticulous filmmaking style and is widely considered one of the most important directors of his generation. “Scorsese's body of work addresses various themes such as the Italian-American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, machismo, modern crime, and gang conflict.” (Tribute.ca, 2011) He has directed landmark films such as the crime film Mean Streets (1973), the dramedy Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), the psychological thriller Taxi Driver (1976), the biographical sports drama Raging Bull (1980), the black comedy The King of Comedy (1983), and the crime film Goodfellas (1990), all of which he collaborated on with actor and close friend Robert De Niro. Scorsese has directed over twenty feature films and documentaries spanning four decades. He has also written a number of screenplays since his first film was released in 1968. His work is often based on his life experience as an Italian-American Catholic. The filmmaker’s success can be credited to his keen understanding of the human nature and his ability to use that understanding to create many of Hollywood's most memorable characters. Lee’s films, also colloquially known as “A Spike Lee Joint” are known for their controversial topics, bold, saturated colors, and also dynamic filmography. He is also known for his technical style such as his fondness for mixing color tones, changing film stocks and aspect ratios and also his trademark dolly shots. In almost all of his films, he would have a character which would appear to be floating toward the camera. “For Lee’s double dolly shot, he set up a dolly per usual, then puts the actor on another dolly, and moves the camera and the actor at the same time. So, essentially, the actor is standing on a small board that is mounted on a track, and the board is then pushed forward, as the camera is pushed away.” (Andsoitbeginsfilms.com, 2013) Martin Scorsese also utilized this filming technique in the films Goodfellas, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver. He as well as Lee is also known for using his hometown of Brooklyn, New York as the