Origins of BlacKkKlansman | Spike Lee on Directing

Spike Lee | On Directing

All-star director Spike Lee talks about his education in film and the humour inherent in BlacKkKlansman's premise. Find some of Spike's timeless advice below!

Comedy vs. humour

The humour for BlacKkKlansman is inherent in the premise, which is absurd.

For Lee, comedy just means "slipping on a banana peel." When Jordan Peele called him with the premise of BlacKkKlansman ready to go, Lee thought it seemed like something entirely different: the six-word pitch (black man infiltrates Ku Klux Klan) was hilarious in and of itself. The pure absurdity of those words means that humour is in many ways the heart of his latest film.

Make it...your way

There's not one way to do everything.

An advocate for forging one's own path, Lee notes that everyone makes it into the business in a slightly (and often drastically) different way. Learning the ins and outs of other people's career trajectories is ultimately not as productive as getting out there and adding another trajectory to the mix.

Breaking the rules

Storytelling is storytelling. In my mind, I don't think I've broken the rule of cinema if I include documentary footage in my narrative films.

Lee's filmography is distinctive and even idiosyncratic. But what others may call "colouring outside the lines" he sees as the perfect means to an end; if it's at the service of the story then what's stopping you?

Putting in the time

There is no such thing as overnight success.

One path into the business that Lee patently does not approve of is showing up and expecting to be given your ideal job on a silver platter. Without work, study, elbow grease or drive you're getting nowhere fast (and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying).