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Spike Lee says real power behind camera

Director tells students to aspire to 'gatekeeper' role in Hollywood
/ Source: The Associated Press

Filmmaker Spike Lee says black representation is stronger than ever on screens, big and small, but the true power in entertainment lies behind the camera.

“We have to get in gatekeeper positions,” he said Tuesday. “We have to get those dual law and MBA degrees and work up the corporate ladder because everybody can’t be an actor, everybody can’t make a record.”

Joining a discussion panel at his alma mater, Morehouse College, Lee led a retrospective of his films and shared his thoughts on the challenges facing blacks in the entertainment industry.

Acting is not where the power is, he said. “Even Denzel (Washington), he’s getting $20 million a movie. But when it comes time to do a movie, he has to go to one of those gatekeepers.”

Lee also told aspiring young filmmakers in the audience not to ignore nontraditional routes to getting a movie made, including raising funds independently and releasing movies straight to DVD.

“It’s a huge market. It’s not something that should be looked upon as a stepchild,” the 47-year-old director said.

Tuesday’s event coincided with the DVD release of Lee’s “She Hate Me” and a special collector’s edition DVD of his 1988 comedy, “School Daze,” which was based on life at Atlanta’s historically black colleges.