I believe in destiny. But I also believe that you can’t just sit back and let destiny happen. A lot of times, an opportunity might fall into your lap, but you have to be ready for that opportunity. You can’t sit there waiting on it. A lot of times you are going to have to get out there and make it happen.— Spike Lee
The most sublime Spike Lee quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening
You gotta make your own way. You gotta find a way. You gotta get it done. It's hard. It's tough. That's what I tell my students every day in class. I've been very fortunate. Some people might call me a hardhead, but I'm not going to let other people dictate to me who I should be or the stories I should tell. That doesn't register with me.
There's an unwritten law that you cannot have a Jewish character in a film who isn't 100 percent perfect, or you're labeled anti-Semitic.
I'm just trying to tell a good story and make thought-provoking, entertaining films. I just try and draw upon the great culture we have as a people, from music, novels, the streets.
I think it is very important that films make people look at what they've forgotten.
Don't think that because you haven't heard from me for a while that I went to sleep. I am still here, like a spirit roaming the night. Thirsty, hungry, seldom stopping to rest.
American slavery was not a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western.
It was a holocaust. My ancestors are slaves. Stolen from Africa. I will honor them.
Power is knowing your past.
I may have been born yesterday, but I stayed up all night.
It comes down to this: black people were stripped of our identities when we were brought here, and it's been a quest since then to define who we are.
I don't think my films are going to get rid of racism or prejudice.
I think the best thing my films can do is provoke discussion.
There's a lot of Americans, black and white, who think that we've arrived where we need to be and nothing else needs to be done and affirmative action needs to be dismantled.
As a people we do not need anyone else's stamp of approval.
I like to work with the same people when I can, and you want to get people with the same interests that you have, and the same aesthetic.
You've really got to start hitting the books because it's no joke out here.
Any film I do is not going to change the way black women have been portrayed, or black people have been portrayed, in cinema since the days of D.W. Griffith.
A lot of times you get credit for stuff in your movies you didn't intend to be there.
I think it would be very boring dramatically to have a film where everybody was a lawyer or doctor and had no faults. To me, the most important thing is to be truthful.
Any time you talk about the look of the film, it's not just the director and the director of photography. You have to include the costume designer and the production designer.
Violence is a part of America. I don't want to single out rap music. Let's be honest. America's the most violent country in the history of the world, that's just the way it is. We're all affected by it.
Our greatness, our talent has never been the question.
It's been a matter of grappling for control over what we do.
I live in New York City, the stories of my films take place in New York; I'm a New York filmmaker.
People of color have a constant frustration of not being represented, or being misrepresented, and these images go around the world.
Since the days of slavery, if you were a good singer or dancer, it was your job to perform for the master after dinner.
My cousin Malcolm Lee is also a filmmaker.
I'd like to state that Spike Lee is not saying that African American culture is just for black people alone to enjoy and cherish. Culture is for everybody.
I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street.
We're the most violent nation on earth.
There's no getting away from that. But you've got to look at it on a broader level.
We grew up in a very creative environment and were exposed to the arts at a very young age, so it's not a surprise that all of us are in some form of the arts.
Music is, for me, a great tool of a filmmaker, the same way cinematography, the acting, editing, post-production, the costumes are. You know, to help you tell a story.
My people, my people, what can I say;
say what I can. I saw it but didn't believe it; I didn't believe what I saw. Are we gonna live together? Together are we gonna live?
I've never seen black men with fine white women. They be ugly. Mugly dogs.
I'm always open to new, innovative stuff and people trying to do stuff in a different way. I knew that the theatrical release would be like getting on the launch pad for Amazon Prime but I was okay with that because I think what Jeff Bezos and Ted Hope are doing is innovative.
I'm always open. I try not to have a closed mind. In fact the only reason why I'm able to continue to make films since 1986 is I have been adaptable. If I weren't flexible I sure wouldn't be making films this many years as I've been doing it. I've been making a film a year almost since 1986 and that's hard. That ain't easy.
I miss my brother. Prince was a funny cat. Great sence of humor.
There’s always been this hocus-pocus or magical, mystical thing associated with the making of film that sort of psyches people out and makes them think that this cannot be done; that this is a craft that cannot be learned.
As we move toward the millennium, the year 2000, the most powerful nations are not those that have nuclear bombs, but those that control the media. That's where the battle is being fought; that is how you control people's minds.
I think people who have faults are a lot more interesting than people who are perfect.
Racism is when you have laws set up, systematically put in a way to keep people from advancing, to stop the advancement of a people. Black people have never had the power to enforce racism, and so this is something that white America is going to have to work out themselves. If they decide they want to stop it, curtail it, or to do the right thing... then it will be done, but not until then.
It is really important that young people find something that they want to do and pursue it with passion. I'm very passionate about filmmaking. It's what I love to do.
Cause mo better makes it mo better.
I'm trying to keep up with what's happening in this turbulent world.
If you can't take a hit, you're not going to last long, that's for sure.
I'm a storyteller, and there's some genres I like.
I don't think I'm ever going to do science fiction, but I want to do a musical one day. I want to tell stories, I don't really try to get boxed in by a specific genre.
Surprises are good. I'm not of the thinking where you tell the audience everything. Sometimes I don't even want to see the trailers. You see the trailer, you've seen the movie.
I'll be vilified if I shoot a film in Toronto for New York. And rightfully so!
All directors are storytellers, so the motivation was to tell the story I wanted to tell. That's what I love.
I decided to be a filmmaker between my sophomore and junior years at Morehouse.
Before I left for the summer of 1977, my advisor told me I really had to declare a major when I came back, because I'd used all my electives in my first two years. I went back to New York and I couldn't find a job. There were none to be had. And that previous Christmas someone gave me a Super-8 camera, so I just started to shoot stuff.
I mean, I think there's a lot of hope in my work.
I don't think I'm a total pessimist, so I think you can find hope in all my films. Some more than others, but there's definitely... I think we want to convey the feeling of hope with the montage at the end.
I don't like to use the word 'remake', I think reinterpretation is a better word. It's just a matter of respecting the source, and then trying to make your own film, and trying not to be inhibited by being so beholden to every single thing... We respect the source, but we make changes to it.