Spike Lee spoke about the impact of streaming services on the film industry and shared anecdotes with young filmmakers on how to survive in the industry at ON.DXB.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Spike Lee addressed an audience of regional filmmakers and creatives at ON.DXB, a pop culture event held in Dubai from November 21 to 23. Lee urged them to follow their passion and keep working hard if they’re intent on breaking through in the “very tough” film industry.
Speaking in a Power of the Media session on the final day of ON.DXB, Lee said: “You must love what you are doing more than anything, because only a love of filmmaking will sustain you when you’re trying to get something done. You have got to work hard. Lazy people are not going to work, and neither are negative people. Positive people only, otherwise they have got to go.”
The filmmaker, known for movies like Malcolm X, BlackKklansman and She’s Gotta Have It, is also a professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
Commenting on the film industry, Lee said: “This is a very tough industry. I often hear students say something is hard and my automatic answer is: what is easy? This is an industry where we are told ‘no’ a lot and a lot of doors close in your face. You have to keep faith in yourself and your ability to keep going – you can’t quit.”
When asked where filmmakers should showcase their material to increase their exposure, Lee advised: “YouTube. Studios and record companies look at that stuff. That is where the talent goes now. You don’t have to be in New York or Los Angeles, you just put it up on YouTube. It sounds crazy but people are discovered on the internet again and again, it happens all the time.”
Lee also weighed in on the current debate about streaming services and their impact on the film industry: “I think Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are great, especially for young filmmakers. The more places to show films the better. Streaming has changed the game; it is not just studios now.”
When asked for advice on the new Saudi film industry, Lee said: “People should tell their stories no matter what their background is. You know your story better than anybody and for young filmmakers it is easier – you should know yourself. Write what you know first, not to say you can’t get off that in the future but write what you know and know what you write.”