Grab these Spike Lee qualities … now! — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
Filmmaker Spike Lee’s career shows the basic elements every leader needs. Here’s what we mean:
Passion. As a student, Lee received encouragement from a professor who notes that Lee “wasn’t the most diehard person to pick up a camera. But he always loved the editing process, and I used to have to kick him out of the editing booth. I told him, though, that a good editor would be a good director.”
Vision. Early on, Lee’s grandmother asked when he was going to make a “nice little film” she’d like. To reward her for financing his education, Lee created Sarah, not one of his most memorable films.
“That was the last time I ever made a film for somebody else,” says Lee, “because I don’t get good results when I do a film that’s not for me, even for my loving grandmother.”
Trust. Lee requires actors to prepare weeks ahead, parsing the script and screening movies. When it’s time to film, he cuts them loose.
“He sets up a shot and kind of walks away from you,” says one actor. “He doesn’t stand around and give you a lot of thematic talk about intentions or the mood of the scene. He just says, ‘Are you ready? You ready? You ready? OK, let’s go.’”
Discipline. “Everybody jumps,” says his brother and stills photographer David Lee. “It’s almost like a joke:You hear Spike yell and it’s time to hit the deck.”
Listening. Hearing a test audience groan, Lee learned that having the power of final cut doesn’t guarantee success.
“Spike is a guy who’s going to listen,” says filmmaker Barry Brown. “Spike comes across as being this hard-ass, and once he’s formed an opinion, he is. But he usually comes to an opinion from an educated perspective.”
Learning. “I read a statement by [Japanese filmmaker] Kurosawa, who at the age of 85 said that there was a universe of cinema that he had yet to learn,” Lee recalls. “When a great master says that, it’s a very humbling experience. And it really makes you examine your own [career] and say, ‘Yo, I got to get in the woodshed and become tighter.’ ”
—Adapted from Spike Lee: That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It, as told to Kaleem Aftab, W.W. Norton.