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Spike Lee Quotes

Shelton Jackson Lee

Spike Lee quotes: the filmmaker’s finest words.

“I believe in destiny.  But I also believe that you can’t just sit back and let destiny happen.  A lot of times, an opportunity might fall into your lap, but you have to be ready for that opportunity.  You can’t sit there waiting on it.  A lot of times you are going to have to get out there and make it happen.”

“You’ve got to have heart and you’ve got to have drive.  And when you get knocked down you’ve got to pick yourself up – put your hands up on the ropes and pull yourself to your feet.  Because, if you can’t take a hit, you’re not going to last long, that’s for sure.”

“You gotta work hard, don’t expect this thing to happen overnight, and you gotta bust your ass to make it happen.”

“You gotta make your own way.  You gotta find a way.  You gotta get it done.  It’s hard.  It’s tough.  That’s what I tell my students every day in class.  I’ve been very fortunate.  Some people might call me a hardhead, but I’m not going to let other people dictate to me who I should be or the stories I should tell.  That doesn’t register with me.”

“I hope they’re doing it because they love it, not because they want to be rich or famous.  Not that those things can’t happen, but the main reason, the focus is, ‘This is what I want to do for the rest of my life and I love it.’  Not to say that you don’t want to make money, but the passion should be driven by your love for that particular thing that you’re doing.”

“When you love something it’s not a job anymore.”

“There’s no magic bullet.  But if you work hard that’s never going to hurt what you’re trying to achieve.”

“A lot of times it’s right underneath the surface and then something jumps off and everything just bursts out.”

“You have to do the research.  If you don’t know about something, then you ask the right people who do.”

“I think people who have faults are a lot more interesting than people who are perfect.”

Critics like to build you up, tear you down, and then, if you’re lucky, build you up again.”

“A lot of times, we censor ourselves before the censor even gets there.”

“It gets dangerous when you start allowing people to validate your work.”

“If you get angry about everything you’re going to give yourself cancer.  So you just gotta pick and choose.  And to be honest, you can’t let anger rule your life.  It’s just not productive.  Well I can’t speak for everybody, but it’s not productive for me.”

“Power is knowing your past.”

“As a people, we do not need anyone else’s stamp of approval.”

“I tell my students, all it takes is one yes.  You get a bunch of motherf*cking nos, but all it takes is one yes.”

“The choices that people make… you go this way, or that way – and either way, there’s going to be consequences.”

“I really don’t deal with hypotheticals.”

“Everybody does what they want to do for their own specific reasons.”

“Our greatness, our talent has never been the question.  It’s been a matter of grappling for control over what we do.”

“If you have a talented family, you should be shot if you don’t use them.”

“It has been my observation that parents kill more dreams than anybody.”

“It is really important that young people find something that they want to do and pursue it with passion.  I’m very passionate about filmmaking.  It’s what I love to do.”

“I decided to be a filmmaker between my sophomore and junior years at Morehouse.  Before I left for the summer of 1977, my advisor told me I really had to declare a major when I came back, because I’d used all my electives in my first two years.  I went back to New York and I couldn’t find a job.  There were none to be had.  And that previous Christmas someone gave me a Super-8 camera, so I just started to shoot stuff.”

“We grew up in a very creative environment and were exposed to the arts at a very young age, so it’s not a surprise that all of us are in some form of the arts.”

“I’ve been working since 1986.  From the beginning, I was determined to not just be a flash in the pan.  I’ve got to keep up with Woody Allen.  He’s lapping me.”

“You know that, first of all, your films have to make money no matter who you are.”

“I’m always open.  I try not to have a closed mind.  In fact, the only reason why I’m able to continue to make films since 1986 is I have been adaptable.  If I weren’t flexible I sure wouldn’t be making films this many years as I’ve been doing it.  I’ve been making a film a year almost since 1986 and that’s hard.  That ain’t easy.”

“I’m just trying to tell a good story and make thought-provoking, entertaining films.  I just try and draw upon the great culture we have as a people, from music, novels, the streets.”

“I wouldn’t be doing motherf*cking films for almost three decades if every time I did something that someone didn’t like I went in a f*cking cocoon and just hid there and didn’t make my art.”

“As a writer I want everybody to get a chance to voice their opinions.  If each character thinks that they’re telling the truth, then it’s valid.  Then at the end of the film, I leave it up to the audience to decide who did the right thing.”

“I don’t really analyze my stuff when I write.  I write about stuff that I’m interested in, that I’m feeling at that particular time.  When I stand back and look at the complete work, I might see themes that run through the whole film, but I’m not really conscious of it when I’m doing it.”

“The truth is I’ve been doing Kickstarter before there was Kickstarter; there was no internet.  Social Media was writing letters, making phone calls, beating the bushes.”

“I’m very proud of my work.  I work very hard, you know, working my craft, honing my craft.”

“I’m blessed, I can afford to send my children to private school.”

“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to express the views of black people who otherwise don’t have access to power and the media.  I have to take advantage of that while I’m still bankable.”

“I’ve got ‘Sometimers.’  Sometimes I remember and sometimes I forget.”

“I’m trying to keep up with what’s happening in this turbulent world.”

“I ain’t Martin Luther King.  I don’t need a dream.  I have a plan.”

“Stick around long enough, you’ll get some grace.”

“Don’t think that because you haven’t heard from me for a while that I went to sleep.  I am still here, like a spirit roaming the night.  Thirsty, hungry, seldom stopping to rest.”

“Do the right thing.”

Also good: Jordan quotes.

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