Spike Lee’s latest film, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, is a remake of Bill Gunn’s 1973 Ganja and Hess, a film Lee himself saw when he was in film school. To make it, Lee took a page from the book of the students he teaches as a film professor at NYU—he turned to Kickstarter.
“I learned about crowdfunding from my students — IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, and how they were financing their films,” Lee tells TheWrap. “I said, you know what? I could do this. And then I began to think about what we could do, because I knew a lot of times, when you do independent cinema you have to work backwards — how much money you have to make the film, and then you make the film. I knew we weren’t going to do Malcolm X on Kickstarter, it wasn’t going to happen.” Still, the more modestly budgeted film did get made thanks to fan contributions.
But despite Lee embracing a more modern way to finance his films, the legendary director admits that he’s not completely onboard with how many people are watching movies these days. “As a filmmaker, I don’t want my film to be seen on an iPhone,” he says bluntly. “I understand the convenience. Even a TV [is fine], but this? It hurts me. Nowadays, there are very few repertory theaters that show old stuff like there was when I was in film school. We’d always go see stuff. So a lot of the stuff, you’re never gonna see it the way it was meant to be seen, projected. So I’m glad people are watching Malcolm X, but the first time you see it, it’s on your iPhone? [Cinematographer] Ernest Dickerson and I, we modeled those films on the epic films by David Lean, we wanted to have that size and scope, like Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge Over the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago.”
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