Spike Lee Launches Kickstarter Campaign To Raise $1.25 Million To Fund His Next Feature

Spike Lee Launches Kickstarter Campaign To Raise $1.25 Million To Fund His Next Feature

Just over a week ago, I received an email alerting me to an upcoming big announcement Spike Lee was scheduled to make at his 40 Acres Brooklyn office. We (the press) were to congregate there last week Monday to witness firsthand what Spike’s revelation was to be. The announcement got pushed back to this week (tomorrow, actually), and while I’m still scheduled to attend, my guess is that THIS is what Spike’s big announcement is supposed to be: he’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $1.25 million to fund his next feature film!

What’s interesting is that, on the project’s Kickstarter page, he doesn’t say much about the project. He doesn’t even give a title, nor tell us what it’s about, other than that if we love what he’s done before, and believe in him and his abilities as a filmmaker, knowing that he won’t disappoint, then we should contribute to the campaign.

Although, my guess is that, assuming tomorrow’s meeting with the press is still on, he will likely reveal further details about the project – hopefully giving us some idea of what it’s about.

But instead of me summarizing, I’ll just let you have it directly from the man himself.

He starts with this letter:

Human beings who are addicted to blood. Funny, sexy, and bloody (and it’s not “Blacula”)…

Dear Faithful,

I say my Prayers every night because I have been able to do what I Love and I Love what I do. I am a Filmmaker and I’m blessed. Most people on this God’s Earth go to the grave hating the occupation they had. When you Love what you do it’s not a job, it’s something you would do for free because it brings True Joy to your Heart and Soul. When you are blessed to do that especially if you’re an Artist it can bring those emotions of the Human Experience to your Audience (if you are Lucky). The catch is Filmmaking is an Artform that costs M-O-N-E-Y. That is why I’m appealing to the Kindness in your Hearts, to the Faithful who have given me the much needed Love and Support over my 3 decades of Spike Lee Joints. You have been there from BACK IN DA DAY with my Feature Film debut SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT (1986) to the present with RED HOOK SUMMER. Your support has been instrumental in helping to launch the Film Careers of Halle Berry, Rosie Perez, Martin Lawrence, Queen Latifah, Samuel L. Jackson, Giancarlo Esposito, Tisha Campbell, Jasmine Guy, John Turturro, Robin Harris, Anthony Mackie, Mekhi Phifer, Kerry Washington, Bill Nunn and Delroy Lindo who were showcased in my Films.

With the current climate in The Hollywood Studio System it’s not an encouraging look for Independent Filmmakers. I’m not hating, just stating the facts. Super Heroes, Comic Books, 3D Special EFX, Blowing up the Planet Nine Times and Fly through the Air while Transforming is not my Thang. To me it’s not just that these Films are being made but it seems like these are the only films getting made. To The Studios it seems like every Film must be a Home run on a Global scale, a Tent Pole Enterprise, able to spin off Sequel after Sequel after Sequel after Sequel after Sequel after Sequel.

I have a different vision of what Cinema can be, a different vision of what some under-served Audiences might want to see. That is why I am here on KICKSTARTER, to raise the Funds for The New Spike Lee Joint, to get this BAD BOY financed. Nothing in Life is Free and if you want something you got to pay for it. If you have liked any of my Films in the past, this is the price it costs to see another one (which can be less than the cost of one Movie Ticket). We feel the different levels on contributions make it affordable for everyone to GET DOWN FOR THE CAUSE.

Do you wish to see Human Beings dealing with each other on a Human Level? How many more explosions with Ear splitting Sound Effects can you take? C’mon People, please get behind this Joint.

As I stated in the Video, I promise on my Mother’s Grave and Right Hand to the Almighty – every Red Cent, every Wooden Nickel, every Dollar will go up on the Screen and not into my pocket. I’m not taking a Fee, your generous contributions will get this Film made.

Kickstarter is an all or nothing venture. If we don’t attain our goal of raising $1,250,000 in 30 DAYS all pledges will be released and it won’t get made and we can’t let that be an option. So tell yo Friends, Relatives, Co-Workers, everybody to chip in LET’S GET DOWN FOR THE CAUSE.

In closing I will continue to do My Thang and this Joint, which YOU THE PEOPLE financed is gonna be HOT and DAT’S DA TRUTH, RUTH. Ya-Dig? Sho-Nuff.

Spike Lee – Filmmaker

Da Republic of Brooklyn, New York

And here’s his video pitch (to contribute, click HERE to head over the project’s Kickstarter page, where he’s raised $1257 as of the time of this post, or click within the widget below): 

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Can't he reach into his bank account and raise the money in 5 seconds?


I still feel celebs shouldn't be asking for money on kickstarter, but I will support Spike Lee on this project on the strength of what he has done and what he has meant for black filmmakers and just film in general.

Miles Ellison

Lee would raise twice his goal if he was making a reality show where a bunch of hookers who once had sex with washed up NBA players and z-list rappers scream at each other, pull off weaves, and throw drinks.

Spike Lee

HaHaHa…lol… yeah Tyler, I feel your sarcasm. Yep, truth be told, if it was that easy every black curmudgeon filmmakers would be living high on the hog. DAT'S DA TRUTH, RUTH. Ya-Dig? Sho-Nuff my brother. But nooooooo, our haters are willfully turning a blind to that stereotypical pig wrapped in a shiny package, SCANDAL. Uh huh, skinnin' and grinnin' equals suckin' and f***in' 2013.

Stay black

Tyler Perry

Look Spike, just put some stereotypical black characters in your movie, buck dance for the white folk at Lionsgate or any other studio, do a little skinnin and grinnin and you will get a studio to fund your project. I keep telling you, lose respect for how black folk are represented on screen! It works for me all the time!

Good luck.


People if Veronica Mars fans and Zac Braff fans understand the climate of filmmaking and are willing to support on such a monumental level, why can't we? What is our problem with supporting eachother, especially when it comes to what we want to see in the media. If you do not support do not complain when transformers 16 hit your theaters, because the powers that may be think you are too stupid to want original and new content.


People if Veronica Mars fans and Zac Braff fans understand the climate of filmmaking and are willing to support on such a monumental level, why can't we? What is our problem with supporting eachother, especially when it comes to what we want to see in the media. If you do not support do not complain when transformers 16 hit your theaters, because the powers that may be think you are too stupid to want original and new content.


I love Spike and what's he's contributed to film and that he has paved the way for black filmmakers, but this is not gonna fly for me. He's has the connections and the money to fund his own work. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are for independents that do not have connection to wealth and loans. On principle alone I can not fund this project nor will I mention it to friends and family would.

No thanks.

K. Nicole

I'm not here for Spike Lee's Kickstarter campaign and here's why – http://knicolewilliams.blogspot.com/2013/07/spike-lees-kickstarter-my-two-cents.html


I respect Spike for remaining outspoken, and always saying what a lot of people think. And not giving a damn. But the "on my mothers grave" in a FUNDRAISING PITCH is tacky as hell.

And I agree with Samuel. This seems more like an experiment for Spike. He will get my money for Oldboy, not for some half ass who's down for the cause pitch. He could be doing a Red Hook Summer sequel for all we know, I'm not going to be partly responsible for that.


Well damn, did he option Octavia Butler's Fledgling? Then MAYBE. Details, baby.


Not a penny! he done had his chance and just wrapped Old Boy! Let someone new have a chance! And he needs to be supervised by some studio so we don't have to sit through another Red Hook Summer!


THAT'S IT… Tambay, call 911, there's a crime in process. If not a crime it's blasphemy.

Well, maybe you should give your site an R-rating (kiddies must be accompanied with and adult). I mean, most adult black folks are fully aware that talking bad about Martin Luther King, Aretha Franklin, James "I'm black and I'm proud" Brown, Malcolm X and Spike Lee is BLASPHEMOUS!

Hey, y'all think I'm kiddin' but I ain't. Listen, Spike has paid enough dues to do anything he so desires. If some of y'all are too cheap, envious, jealous or whatever to kick something in the pot, run over to Yahoo, but not here. Shut your big black pie-holes :-)

Damn, I can't believe some of you are telling this man how to spend HIS money.

a village member

Just reviewed the "awards." If these celebs don't want to share potential profits, can they at least offer a critique of our screenplays or short films? You could limit it to 10 submissions/contributors. I'd pay $$$ for honest feedback from someone I respect — and has gotten to where I wanna be.
Why not invest in AFFRM Mr. Lee?
Ava has the right idea. A win-win blueprint for success.


That's kind of bullshit. Established directors should not be absorbing resources from kickstarter… Crowd sourcing platforms are for independent ventures that otherwise can't compete with established wealth. Kickstarter jumps the shark if established artists (and then inevitably commercial and corporate entities) start using it.


Everyone is raising some really relevant points regarding kickstarter and directors/producers, like Spike, who have money and connections.

I guess I fall, mainly, on the side of being a consumer who votes with her dollars. I've never donated to any crowdfunding projects and don't foresee myself ever doing so. I'm all for supporting indie filmmakers, but I don't believe in purchasing a product or service of any kind sight unseen, or that has not been proven or tested.

It is curious, given Spike's influence and public persona why he, of all people, would have trouble finding a private backer for his project. As one poster pointed out, why not tap into
some of these NBA, NFL ballers with all the money they have and don't know what to do with?
Why doesn't he see them — or Jay Z and Beyonce — as potential investors? Bey, is desperate to be seen as a movie star. If he gives her a role, I'm sure she'll happily drop some dough.

In the end, however, the marketplace will decide. As it always does.

Also, as Samuel pointed out, you have to SELL the audience on your vision. As the old Hollywood maxim states: "You're only as good as your last project."

I LOVED Spikes' Joints from back in the day, but the last movie of his that I paid to see, and was excited about, was "Miracle at St. Anna."


Wait, doesn't he have court side seats to to all the Knicks' games? If I'd directed 25 films and didn't have $1.25 million in the bank to make a movie, I'd get another job.


If Spike is going to Kickstarter, that means he's trying to make another one of his trademark "non-studio friendly" black movies, which can only mean this will be another "joint" along the lines of the mind-bogglingly incoherent, stupefyingly awful "She Hate Me"**. Thank you no.

(** = from what I've heard, I never saw it)


I'm not sure if Spike understands how Kickstarter works. In my opinion, he's doing a very soft sell to see how much this experiment earns. His name, his body of work, sex and blood (and the fact that Veronica Marrs pulled 5 million). The difference is that he hasn't shot any scenes or any storyboards or even a storyboard trailer, (If so, he needs to show it). Kickstarter is sort of a oneway buddy system. The independent movie producers are asking the audience to "share" in the process, but without any editorial content. The producers shoot some examples of what they are going to do, or it's to help filmmakers finish a existing project. In the past, producers have given us something to wet our whistle. Veronica Marrs had the star and the existing fan base. Spike needs to give us something to raise funds.

This has nothing to do with Spike Lee's stature as a filmmaker. He has a studio film (Old Boy) coming out and has had a number of docu-projects with HBO and ESPN. This kickstarter will allow him to do an independent film and produce it without studio involvement. I just don't think he's selling us on what the final project will be.

Paul J

It's great idea for raising money, but if all these big directors are now jumping on Kickstarter and crowd funding sites (when they could get financial backing elsewhere), who is going to fund Bob, John, Kwame, Nana etc etc etc when they are trying to get their kickstarter/crowd funding bid out there because NO ONE will fund them because there story is not what the big funders want, or they've not got a name for themselves?

In short: if you give your bucks to Spike, you don't give your bucks to all the budding talent who truly can't get it elsewhere.


I'm a (truly) independent filmmaker from Brooklyn. I just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 for a short. Yes, it's kind of frustrating to see a director with a track record like Spike's using crowd funding, but in the end, he has every right to do it and by doing so, he gains more freedom than he would have if he was funded by a studio.

His campaign won't have a detrimental affect on mine. I certainly don't share any connections with him and I still have to work hard to promote my campaign and raise the money. Plus, I like his work.


'effing cheek! you have been making films for around 25 years now…. if you want to make a film go to your contacts and rich friends and stop trying to pounce off people who would rather support unknown talent. you should be ashamed of yourself Mr Lee!


I felt some type of way when Zach Braff did a Kickstarter, and I feel some type of way now. But I gotta admit that I'm still gonna donate. It's not that Spike Lee can do no wrong, I just feel each one of his films take me on an interesting ride, even if I don't like them in the end.


Going to donate now!


As we said in the late 80's early 90's
Baby boom!


i think it's good for him. Not for the financial stake but for exposure and building audience . "Red Hook Summer" wasn't great but it deserved to make it's money back…which is didn't. A lot of his fans didn't really know he had a movie out. And if they did, they didn't feel an immediacy to see it. This makes everyone apart of the process. Now it's our movie. If you've ever really loved one of Spike Lee's films then you've found great appreciation (and probably inspiration) from his work. At the least you can say ' yeah I put something in on this new Spike Lee movie'. Contributing to 'thee Spike Lee's' work has a nice thing about it. He has a great film every now and again..the last probably being "25th Hour" so he's done for something memorable and this might be the one. I'll at least put in $5 …that's less than a beer in some places.


I anticipate a huge class action lawsuit coming against projects that have utilized Kickstarter and others to raise money. Mark my words. I know these sites make it clear that you will not partake in the profits but that will not deter some from making a case for profit sharing in court.


With a Net Worth of $40 million dollars, Spike Lee can go kick rocks. I have stopped giving to crowd funding projects until they adjust rules about profit sharing. It is ridiculous that Spike wants hard working people to absorb all the risk with no reward. 1.25 mil is nothing for him.


The brother has raised money for films for over 20 years, by hook or by crook and has made culturally relevant projects in the face of Hollywood. Not to mention hire talented and diverse cast and crew. If you don't contribute to this, and call yourself a fan of black cinema, shame on you.




Don't matter he's gettin my money! Please baby baby please baby please baby baby please make us proud. Hell Oprah could write em a check in a second and funds would be raised, but she supports that six foot five melodrama queen.

Roland S. Jfferson

NBA ball players with multi-year $50+ million dollar salaries pay more in taxes than Spike is trying to raise. Why not tap into them instead of the public? I'm sure they'd much rather invest $1.25 mil in Spike's film rather than write a check to the IRS for $1.25 mill. You think?

Billy G

If M.Night can continue to make terrible movies and get funding I am sure there are other avenues for Mr Lee. In my opinion kickstarter and similar sites are for people struggling on the way up, with little or no resources, not people like Spike.


way to whore it out for Nike, Spike! http://youtu.be/M5uYCWVfuPQ

Michelle Cuttino

Ohhh, would you look at who's beggin…perhaps if he wasn't such a crab-in-a-barrel towards Tyler Perry, he might break him off…"here's that 1 mil you need to make your move Spikey"…lol…what a schmuck!


Good for him, but why is he still referring to himself as an independent filmmaker, as if he is struggling?

Also, almost all of these celebrity kickstarter campaigns are controversial for different reasons. In this case, is Spike going to admit that although he is talented, he tends to be grouchy/unfriendly to people? I think this may be why he has turned to kickstarter. He has burned a ton of bridges.

Henry McMullen

Oh, Spike. Even this message is so yesterday. Here's hoping "Oldboy" does well.


He'll Probably use the Funds to purchase More capital Letters For his upcoming Requests. Seems Like he's exhausted His resources with This one.


Spike Lee is one of my favorite filmmakers, but I'm weary about him and the other millionaires who go on kickstarter asking for money. I think it takes away from kickstarter and what it suppose to be about. These people have connections and money to get a film made for cheap. Spike Lee spent his own money for Red Hook Summer, I think the budget was $600,000 and it was picked up for like over a million, so he almost double his money before the film was released, so why not do the same thing instead of asking people to give you money, when you got money and connections to get your film made. Kickstarter is corporate now, it was just a matter of time before wall st and hollywood messed up.


Spike's got every right to use Kickstarter, but watching him do it, makes me sad. At one time, the trendsetter of indie films and gumption, he sounds like an old dad now asking his kids to help him with an Excel spreadsheet. Just a reminder that generations come and go, and even the best of them have and had their day. But his legacy stands for itself.


This is ridiculous. All the money, connections, and resources this guy has and he has to ask people for money. Give other filmmakers a chance.


So who's going to blindly donate to an unknown project based on Spike's 20+ years as a filmmaker? What about a web series, description, or some type of visual of this alleged project first? I've donated to a wide variety of Kickstarter campaigns but never have I've been asked to give my join a campaign that has no definitive purpose. I think Spike needs to get organized first before asking for money. JMO

Dankwa Brooks | 'Nother Brother Entertainment

As I said about Whoopi Goldberg's Kickstarter, it gave her access to people she would NEVER met otherwise. There are many people who have disposable incomes and or just want to be a patron to the arts who would gladly donate, but had no avenue.

I said all that to say, I ain't mad @ you Spike and as someone who was born in Da Republic of Brooklyn I wish you much success with your campaign.


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