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Human beings who are addicted to Blood. Funny, Sexy and Bloody. A new kind of love story (and not a remake of "Blacula").
Created by

Spike Lee

6,421 backers pledged $1,418,910 to help bring this project to life.

FILM FOUND ME

FILM FOUND ME

Dear Daughter and Son, 

Since the both of you were born, you have known your Daddy makes movies. It was something I did and will continue to do. I vividly remember the times where your Mother would bring you to the sets of the many various music videos, commercials, and feature films and it was a fun time. You both seemed amazed by all the people, equipment and lights. And you, my Son, would always ask if I was, “blowing up anything today, or is somebody getting shot and blood flying everywhere?”

The thought recently occurred to me as you, my Daughter, begin your Freshman year at a University, and you, my son, begin your Junior year in High School, that I never explained to you why Daddy makes movies. But before I get into that, the both of you would not be here if it weren’t for Cinema. I met your beautiful, intelligent, and talented Mother, Tonya Lewis Lee at the Congressional Black Caucus. I was there in D.C. to screen the Trailer for my upcoming Epic, Malcolm X. Your Mother and I met at that event. I got her number and sent her a dozen red roses to her job the next day. We were married within a year. So you are the direct result of Brother Malcolm X and that’s a wonderful Blessing.

Growing up in the (pre­-gentrification) Fort Greene neighborhood of Da Republic of Brooklyn during the late 60’s and early 70’s was a beautiful time to be a Black Child. Our generation was born at the right time, too early to be drafted in the Vietnam War, but old enough to see the World changing around us. We witnessed the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Rights, Drugs, Free Love, The Anti­war Movement and the Great, Great Soul and Rock and Roll music of that Era. Michael Jackson and Prince were born in 1958, I was born in 1957.

I’m so sorry you never got to meet my Mother, your Grandmother, Ms. Jacquelyn Shelton Lee. My Mother was was way, way, ahead of her time. It was exhibited by the way she thought, wore her hair, dressed, and lived her life. In hindsight I guess she lived as much as she could before Cancer of the liver took her away from my Father, her Parents and my siblings, at the too, too young age of 41.

Mr. Bill Lee & Mrs. Jacquelyn Shelton Lee

It was your grandmother who planted the seeds in my young fertile mind to be a Filmmaker. She never said. “I want you to be a Filmmaker,” but it was the exposure she gave me to Movies and the Arts. My Father, Bill Lee, your Grandfather, is a great Jazz Bassist/Composer. He scored the music to my NYU Grad Film, and SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT, SCHOOL DAZE, DO THE RIGHT THING and MO’ BETTA BLUES. My Father hated TV and MOVIES, so I became my Mother's Movie Date. She loved Movies and that love was passed onto me, her oldest child.

I remember my Mom taking me to see BYE BYE BIRDIE at Radio City Music Hall. And years later that came back to me. How? The Opening Credit Sequence in my third Joint ­ DO THE RIGHT THING, with newcomer Rosie Perez dancing to Public Enemy’s FIGHT THE POWER was inspired by ANN-­MARGRET singing and dancing in the Opening Credit Sequence of BYE BYE BIRDIE. 

Ann-Margret - Bye Bye Birdie

Rosie Perez- Do The Right Thing 

I was 6 years old when my Mom took me to see that. Let’s think about that for a second. A 6 year old Black Kid from Brooklyn is being dragged to Radio City Hall by his Mother to see some dumb movie (I thought that at the time) and it had such an impact it reappeared 25 years later out of nowhere from my distant memories. I don’t know about you but I think that is some POWERFUL SHIT. To me that is a demonstration of the POWER of CINEMA and ART in general. And I thank my Mother for not listening to my protests. She was the Adult and I was the nappy headed, snotty nosed Kid who didn’t know a damn thing, but I thought I did. Back in the day Parents told you what to do. No time for discussion. You did what your Parents told you to do.

I grew up and went to Atlanta Georgia to become a 3rd generation Morehouse Man. I had no inkling what my Major would be or what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was I wanted to be a Morehouse Man (whatever that was) like my Father ­ Class of ‘51 (Dr. Martin Luther King was a Senior when he was a Freshman) and my Grandfather Richard Jackson (Class of ‘27).

To say I was a disinterested, struggling Student would be a huge understatement. I was smart, but I didn’t give a shit about my grades. I was totally unmotivated. And on top of that, I was homesick. I missed my Mother and I missed Brooklyn. I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t getting my ass beat with a paddle to join a Fraternity, and the Fine Wine young Ladies from Spelman College (where my Mother and Grandmother both graduated from) were not checking for me either. I don’t blame them, I looked like I was in Junior High School and wore big glasses. Watch my second Joint, SCHOOL DAZE again, it’s all there.

I would write my Mom weekly letters and she would return those letters corrected in Blood Red Ink. It looked like she had slit her wrist. There were so many grammatical errors, it pained her to say, “I can’t believe my Morehouse Son is a functioning illiterate.” Soon after that the letters stopped. I got a call from my Father telling me to come on home, “Your Mother is dying from cancer.” In shock I jumped on the first thing smoking. It happened so quick. One day she didn’t feel well enough to go to the School ST. ANN’s in Brooklyn Heights where she taught Black Literature. We knew it had to be serious because she never missed a day. Substitute Teachers would starve, because if she could walk she was gonna teach her Students Black Literature. She went to Brooklyn Heights for tests and the Doctors kept her. I stayed by her bedside for 10 days and then my Father suggested I go back to Morehouse and not miss anymore School. I agreed, my Mother’s condition was not getting worse. I kissed my Mother and flew back to Atlanta, went to classes, went back to my dorm, and called home. My Aunt Nancy (Mother of filmmaker Malcolm Lee ­ The Best Man) answered the phone. I asked, “How is Mommy doing?” She stumbled. “Nobody called you?” I said, “No.” “Spike, I’m so sorry Jackie passed,” she answered.

Somewhere in the air between LaGuardia and the Atlanta Airports my Mother Jacquelyn Shelton Lee left this God’s Earth in her physical form. The reason I say that is because she has visited me various times over the years in my dreams. Your Grandmother talks to me, but I can’t ever remember what she says. I do know she speaks words of Love and Wisdom and I welcome every one of her visits.

So, Daughter and Son, let’s get back to the point of this letter. My Mother had died, I’m 19 years old, lost and barely doing enough not to flunk out of the Dear Old Morehouse. Before the end of my Sophomore year I was called before my Guidance Counselor, she advised me to think about deciding a Major for the Fall semester of my Junior year, she told me to think about it long and hard over the Summer. I asked why. She quickly responded, “You have exhausted all your elective courses.”

I went back to my Brooklyn home seeking a summer job. However at the time NYC was DEAD ASS BROKE. There were no J­O­B­S to be had. I had no J­O­B and N­U­T­H­I­N TO DO. Over the years I had a very good friend, VIETTA JOHNSON. Her Mom, Ms. Johnson, treated me like the son she never had. Vietta was/is smart as a whip. She went to Stuyvesant High School, the best New York Public High School. Today Vietta is a doctor, she went to Princeton Undergrad and Harvard Medical School. Like I said, the Sister is tight, I liked her too in that way, but she was way out of my league, plus a lot taller than me so I never pursued it and didn’t want to mess up our friendship. So I talked to her best friend, Diedre Davis, we both went to John Dewey High School. Anyway, one fateful Hot as Blazes NYC Summer Day, I went to see Vietta. We were sitting around in her room and I noticed a box sitting in the corner. I asked her what was it. Vietta said somebody had given her a brand new Super 8 Camera with with a bunch of film. “I don’t want it, didn’t even open the box,” she said. I quickly answered “Veets, (her nickname) can I borrow it?” “Forget borrow, you can have it. It would just be collecting dust in that corner.” answered Vietta.

THANK YOU VIETTA.

I grabbed that Brand New Super 8 Camera and the box of film cartridges and BOOM. It began. Now I had something to do for the SUMMER. I spent that entire time running around NEW YORK (sometimes my Father would drive me around too) filming one of the most craziest SUMMERS IN THE HISTORY OF NEW YORK. Why do I say that? ­ David Berkowitz (SON OF SAM.) THE BLACK OUT ­ CAUSED BY THE RECORD BREAKING HEAT WAVE­ AND THE FIRST SUMMER OF DISCO. It was BANANAS and who knew I would revisit it many years later with my JOINT­ SUMMER OF SAM.

Life can be funny like that. I was lost, adrift, not getting along with my Father and still mourning the recent loss of my Dear Mother, when something told me to visit my Dear Friend Vietta Johnson, that special day. Too many events like that have happened in my life for me to believe it was an accident or coincidence. Whatever you may call it, some Force, Spirit, or even God, it told me to seek her out. I was lonely as hell and I knew where to go. That one day changed the direction of my whole life. There was no turning back. I also think I indirectly change others lives who later broke into this film/TV industry in front and behind the camera through 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks.

I had finally found something that gave me “Purpose,” (nod to Lionel Ritchie.) I was Reborn. Before I was just getting along, but now with this newfound love of Cinema I had electricity flowing through my veins. I didn’t care what anybody said. I didn’t care about the odds. I knew what I had to do and I was committed. I had discovered Cinema, the power of Storytelling. I now knew I wanted to make Movies, wanted to be a FILMMAKER. I wanted to tell my STORIES. At this point nothing else mattered to me. And yes, I know that’s selfish, but I can’t lie. I became consumed with Films and it’s still with me today. I’m 3 decades in this game and I hope to match my hero Akira Kurosawa, he was in his 80’s still making Great Cinema.

Today as I write the both of you, it’s my passion for this beautiful powerful and expensive art form that has your Daddy on this KICKSTARTER GRIND. This is what your Daddy does, he makes JOINTS. I hope and pray that the both of you find your JOY and PASSION. I say my prayers every night because I’ve been blessed to do what I love. I love what I do. I’ve been blessed to do what makes me happy. When one is blessed to have a J­O­B that one loves, it’s not a J­O­B. A J­O­B is working at something you H­A­T­E. Most of the people on this Earth die hating the jobs they slaved on their entire lives.

May God Bless you with the guidance to find out what it is that you L­O­V­E. To find out what you want to do with the rest of your precious young lives. Tonya, myself, your Grandparents and our Ancestors are proud of you. We want you to be Happy, Happy the way Filmmaking still makes me feel. FILM FOUND ME. I DIDN’T FIND FILM.

Love to Satchel and Jackson,

Daddy ­- Filmmaker

Da Republic of Brooklyn 

YA­-DIG SHO­-NUF

By Any Means Necessary

Comments

    1. Creator Billy and Julie Henehan on August 22, 2013

      I loved this post. Absolutely brilliant and very inspiring. Keep filming, Spike!

    2. Creator Tracie Moore Williams on August 14, 2013

      I LOVED this letter, this historical accounting for your children! My greatest memory that I tell anyone who will listen, is that School Daze was my Sophomore year in College but at The Ohio State University. No it wasn't a HBCU, but our small population of African American students experienced everything in this film. Wonderful, Crazy Rose-Colored Memories! Thank You Mr. Lee!

    3. Creator Charles W. Davidson on August 14, 2013

      Beautiful letter to the seeds Spike. Thanx for a little more of what makes an artistic genius like yourself tic...

    4. Creator Obai Frempong on August 13, 2013

      Always was,and always will be the greatest inspiration an spark for my nascent film making career (and my artistic career in general) ,which is now gradually getting off the ground.I will try my hardest to live up to the courage,intelligence,grace,wisdom ,and fortitude of the ethical and principled Spike Lee.
      And last but not least,and maybe the most important person quality of all,just good ole' kahunas.Spike has been swimming against a tide of cynicism,manipulation and stupidity since the early 1980's.And he succeeded in every respect in what he set out to do,because he is a genius.Growing up in Ghana in West Africa,I knew that instantly on seeing She's Gotta Have It.
      Genius just is,you can't argue with it or suppress it.You just have to accept that as a fact of life
      Great work Spike,keep keeping on bro
      Obai Frempong.Surrey,United Kingdom.
      studying Digital Film at the UCA in Farnham.(in Surrey in the UK)

    5. Creator Terri Lucrisia on August 13, 2013

      Beautiful story. I too was born in 1957.....
      I was raised as you Spike. Listening, and doing what my parents directed, and told me what to do. We had much RESPECT for the adults in our lives. I wish we could go back to the values of those times. Thank you for sharing yourself with us...

      Much love to you...Peace, and lots of BLESSINGS
      Terri

    6. Creator Iris M Gross on August 13, 2013

      Now that's a gift. Your kids maybe won't absorb the message now but they will. This letter makes me understand how, for example, young Prince Jackson wants to be a filmmaker in order to share his father Michael's love of film. And it reminds me, who is still looking for my passion, to try not to settle no matter how thin the savings get. You could have just told your kids this without putting it online, so I thank you Spike for sharing this lesson with all of us!

    7. Creator Ms. Robinson on August 13, 2013

      Homie it's Catherine from bedsty! Your letter so Blessed me. A Black girl still trying to find a PA gig and keep hope alive. Thanks for sharing God goin ta Bless you and imma see to it.

    8. Creator Marc F. Murphy on August 13, 2013

      Thanks for sharing that letter. I am grateful for The Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint being on KS. I always dug the craft but this thing has allowed the the human being to become more evident to your fans. Even ones like me that have been down since the first Spike Lee Joint.

    9. Creator LK Toepfer on August 12, 2013

      AND...now you know why it's time for me to up my pledge...gorgeous gorgeous letter...

    10. Creator Steven C Douglas on August 12, 2013

      That letter felt like one of your scripts...intimate, connected and brilliant. Thank you brother.

    11. Creator kim applebury on August 12, 2013

      Love the letter. Did your mother have a favorite film?

    12. Creator michael j lambie on August 12, 2013

      loved this update. A beautiful history most certainly. I think it's incredible that you make your project available for the community at large to contribute. You think that little old me could contribute a little coin to a project from a professional like yourself it just peachy. I love kickstarter, and I absolutely agree you aren't cannibalizing young filmmakers. You didn't take my money from my wallet which would have otherwise gone into some other filmmakers pocket. I invest my modest amount, because I invest in you, i believe in you, i respect your work and your mission. I would have given even without a reward. You held your ground amazingly well on the Bloomsburg news show. That lady and her line of questions were just tacky. I know you will secure funding, I can wait to see this film among the many more you will create in your lifetime.

      I-DIG SHO-NUF
      BAMN!

    13. Creator Timothy Cech on August 12, 2013

      You are pretty darn awesome.

    14. Creator Dana Tucker on August 12, 2013

      Wow, very touching. I'm sure your kids will succeed in whatever they do

    15. Creator joshua mauck on August 12, 2013

      Thanks for that...What happened to the super 8 film from college?

    16. Creator Gripper Headquarters on August 12, 2013

      Spike, we've been getting these email updates from you.. on the strength, this one was the one. Beautiful writeup and perspective into all you do. Thanks.

    17. Creator terrence hughes on August 12, 2013

      That story was worth my pledge.

    18. Creator elaine buchsbaum on August 12, 2013

      I love your story, got a little teary when you talk about your mother. I had a similar passion (dancing) couldn't sit down but have always stayed up late at night to watch old films....I wish you all the best success and know you will make your goal....IT IS SO GREAT TO SEE THE LITTLE GUY GET IT (not little any more)...xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    19. Creator Alonzo Byrd on August 12, 2013

      See, this is why I love my brother Spike Lee. He speaks the language of "our" generation. We're the same age and the same kind: purposely driven individuals who care for others. We recognize and respect those who came before us. We cheer for those who are beside us and who are making a difference in the lives of others. And most important, we want those who are following us to realize that they, too, can (as the Army slogan says) "be all that they can be." Jackson and Satchel are fortunate to have parents like Spike and Tonya. This letter is touching -- and it's Spike at his best! Peace.

    20. Creator Yancey Strickler on August 12, 2013

      Amazing story. Thank you for sharing it!

    21. Creator Van Monroe on August 12, 2013

      Very inspiring story..just goes to show you the importance of planting seeds because they grew to not only produce fruit but drop new seeds for the next generation. Wow. So many have been inspired by Mr Spike Lee. Its a blessing to read where it all came from...Whew that was deep.
      Follow your passion..by any means Necessary!

    22. Creator Ben Friedberg on August 12, 2013

      oh and rosie perez makes me wanna dance...

    23. Creator Ben Friedberg on August 12, 2013

      ...and there it is. thank you for reminding me that the joy and the purpose is in the telling of the story. i love being reminded of that notion. it is great to be a parent, no better thing.

    24. Creator Josh Sussman on August 12, 2013

      Beautiful letter.