Economy of Spike Lee’s Joints

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Towards the end of the semester, we spoke about the economy of Lee’s films, and all the other kinds of things he has to produce in order to maintain his independence and his ability to produce films on his own terms. That there are people who disparage him for this was upsetting and unsurprising to me: the logic of artists suffering/starving for their art is a lot more of a reality for marginalized people creating art, and so it’s more distressing to the establishment when someone challenges that model.

In that vein, I remembered hearing that Lee had financed his last movie, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, over Kickstarter. The campaign page is pretty interesting, especially the FAQ that Lee set up. I encourage everyone to go check it out: it offers some interesting insight into Lee’s understanding of himself in the Hollywood economy.

2 comments

  1. I’m really glad you pulled this out of the woodwork; it not only illuminates some of our discussions about Lee’s financial workflow but about Lee himself, and his idea of his self-image. The fact that he refers to himself as “doing Kickstarter before there was Kickstarter” provides a lot of insight into his history if you know about stories like his attempts to fund Malcolm X, which was ultimately saved by donations from the top echelon of black celebrities and activists. If anything, Lee’s transition to such a well thought out Kickstarter demonstrates that he is quite in touch with how film and social media have progressed even in his old age; even know he demonstrates a real thoughtful, hands-on approach to funding his art. I thought it was especially clever to base some of the contribution prizes off of his past films in order to secure some help from his die-hard fans.

  2. Thanks for pointing this out, I had no idea. There’s also been a lot of talk about big star and directors using kickstarter for their projects. I remember a few years ago Zach Braff used the site to fund his movie ‘Wish I Was Here’ and people were appalled because he was asking for money when he personally could have financed the project. I kind of agree but don’t think he has to pay for everything. The Veronica Mars Movie used the site as well at the same time and nobody complained about that…

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