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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Spike Lee in San Francisco

Went to see Spike Lee tonight at a Commonwealth Club event, with my friend Traci (whom I've known since "Do the Right Thing" came out in the summer of 1989.) The ballroom at the Hotel Nikko was jam-packed. But unfortunately, the event was marred by scattershot moderating and a series of really odd questions from the audience. (Most people wanted to know whether Spike would read their screenplays, cast them in his next film, help out their worthy non-profit, or consider making an African-American martial arts film.)

Spike was in San Francisco promoting a new book about his career called "That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It."

He made a few interesting comments comparing today's indie digital filmmaking to the kind of guerrilla 8 mm filmmaking he grew up with.

Spike lamented the fact that the first book he wrote, "She's Gotta Have It: Inside Guerrilla Filmmaking" was out of print; actually, it seems like it's still available new or used on Amazon.

Whether digital or analog, Spike said guerrilla filmmaking is about "not taking no for an answer" - simply barreling ahead and making the film you intend to make, cobbling together whatever resources it takes. The latest generation of high-quality consumer digital video cameras, he said, make that even easier.

The reason I went to film school was to get access to the equipment," Spike said. "With this digital stuff, you can just go out and make a film. Not everyone can make a good one - but you can make a film. And you can use that to get better."