Jules Brown, director Spike Lee and Ty Lysaith at the press day for “Red Hook Summer,” taking place at Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks headquarters in Brooklyn, NY.
Director Spike Lee Has His Red Hook Summer
by Brad Balfour
When New York-based director Spike Lee makes a film, it’s almost always an event. That’s been the case virtually from the moment he emerged as a hot young indie filmmaker breaking both the color barrier by dealing with subject matter most mainstream directors neither touched or had a feel for. His 1986 film She’s Gotta To Have It detailed a Brooklyn based urban life experience that quickly found an audience that had been well served before.
He’s still plumbing his Brooklyn world for story ideas and films – the latest being Red Hook Summer – a film that made its debut at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Lee again draws on his roots this time as a middle-class boy from Atlanta and tells the tale of a kid from this Southern city who spends a summer with his deeply religious grandfather in the housing projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. He has his worldview changed as he discovers unexpected and painful things about the people he knows during that summer.
This is truly an indie film – paid for, produced and directed by Lee with a mix of unknowns and established actors working for the love of this film and filmmaker. This Q&A is culled from a roundtable held at Spike Lee’s Brooklyn headquarters, the Four Acres and a Mule Filmworks production office, earlier this month.
Your bright young stars – Jules Brown as Flik Royale and Toni Lysaith as Chazz Morningstar – are amazing.
A lot of the credit has to go to their drama teacher, Mr. Ed Robertson, who’s at Ronald Edmonds [Learning Center]. I went to that same junior high school, but it had a different name then. When I went there it was 297.
Over the year you’ve worked with kids. What do you get from working with them?
They teach me patience.
Its important that young kids do a lot with their education.
It’s very important. I’m a teacher myself, I’ve been teaching film at NYU for the last 15 years. I’m artistic director at the graduate film school too. I come from a long line of educators in my family; my parents, my grandparents. Education has always been a key thing in my family.
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