He Got Game: About The Filmmakers

Buy this video from Reel.com

Music from Amazon.com:
Buy The Soundtrack.

SPIKE LEE (Director/Writer/Producer) has become one of Hollywood's most influential and important filmmakers. Touchstone Pictures' "He Got Game" is his twelfth feature in a career that began over a decade ago and which has earned him outstanding critical acclaim for such features as "Malcolm X," "Clockers" and "Do The Right Thing." His most recent film, "Get On the Bus," opened to rave reviews, and he has also received accolades for his first documentary feature, "4 Little Girls," which he directed and produced for HBO, and which received an Oscar® nomination.

In 1986, Lee made his film debut with the independently produced comedy, "She's Gotta Have It" which he wrote, directed, produced, edited, and acted in creating the character Mars Blackmon. The feature earned him the Prix de Jeunesse Award at the Cannes Film Festival and gave impetus and attention to the Black New Wave in American cinema. His second feature, "School Daze," was a commercial success and the breakthrough film for several of Hollywood's young African-American actors.

Lee received an Academy Award® nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Screenplay for his trenchant 1989 feature "Do The Right Thing." The film, which dealt with the contentious issue of race relations in America, also earned him Best Film & Director awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Subsequent films "Jungle Fever" and "Mo' Better Blues" continued his tradition for tackling serious issues within the African-American context.

In 1992, Lee brought the life story of Malcolm X to the screen. Cast as the charismatic civil rights advocate, Denzel Washington received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actor. The feature was declared one of the best films of 1992.

Born Shelton Jackson Lee in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, Lee is the son of a jazz musician and a schoolteacher and grew up an avid sports fan. He graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta. He returned to New York to continue his education at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he received a master of fine arts degree in film production, and also directing his student film "Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads" which won a Student Academy Award®.

Settling in his home neighborhood of Fort Greene, Lee then founded his own production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks.

In addition to his achievements in feature films, Lee has produced and directed numerous music videos for such diverse artists as Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, Tracy Chapman, Anita Baker, Public Enemy, Bruce Hornsby and Michael Jackson. Other music videos include those for Phyliss Hyman, Naughty by Nature and Arrested Development.

Lee is also known for his commercial work with the Nike Air Jordan campaign. Collaborating with basketball superstar Michael Jordan on seven commercials, Lee resurrected his popular character Mars Blackmon from "She's Gotta Have It." He created a P.S.A. for the United Negro College Fund which also features Michael Jordan. Lee has also directed several Art Spot Shorts for MTV and a short film featuring Branford Marsalis and Dianne Abbott for "Saturday Night Live." He received Emmy Awards for his pieces on Georgetown's John Thompson, and Mike Tyson for HBO/Real Sports.

Additionally, Lee has authored six books on the making of his films; the fifth book, Five For Five, served as a pictorial retrospective on his first five features. His most recent book, Best Seat in the House, recounts his ongoing love of basketball and was published by Crown Publishers, Inc.

Lee has combined his considerable creative interests into yet another venture. He recently partnered with DDB Needham to create Spike/DDB, a full service advertising agency.

JON KILIK (Producer) began his producing collaboration with Spike Lee in 1988 with "Do The Right Thing." Working with Lee, he has also co-produced "Malcolm X," "Clockers," "Girl 6," "Crooklyn," "Jungle Fever" and "Mo' Better Blues."

He also produced Robert De Niro's directorial debut feature, "A Bronx Tale"; Tim Robbins' Academy Award®-winner "Dead Man Walking" which starred Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn; Julian Schnabel's directorial debut, "Basquiat," starring David Bowie and Jeffrey Wright; Gary Ross' upcoming directorial debut "Pleasantville"; as well as co-producing Robert Altman's satirical fashion film "Prêt à Porter" ("Ready to Wear").

Born in Millburn, New Jersey, Kilik graduated from the University of Vermont and moved to New York where he gained experience in film production as an assistant director on "Maria's Lovers," "Crocodile Dundee" and "Raising Arizona," and as production supervisor on John Huston's "Prizzi's Honor." In 1987, Kilik partnered with Julia Phillips and Nick Wechsler to make his feature producing debut with Paul Mones' "The Beat," starring John Savage.

MALIK HASSAN SAYEED (Director of Photography) most recently photographed "Cold Heart." He has previously worked with Spike Lee as the director of photography for Lee's features "Girl 6" and "Clockers," as well as collaborating with Lee on a series of music videos and commercials.

A graduate of Howard University's School of Communications, Sayeed has also studied at the Maine Photographic Workshops under the direction of cinematographers Billy Williams, B.S.C., Ralph Bode, A.S.C., and Rob Draper, A.S.C.

After only twelve years in the industry, Sayeed has worked his way through the ranks from electrician and gaffer to lighting director and cinematographer. He has amassed an extensive body of work in theatrical productions, features, commercials as well as music videos, including "I Wanna Be Down" with Brandy and featuring Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo and M.C. Lyte; "Craziest" by Naughty by Nature; and "People Make the World Go 'Round" by Mark Dorsey.

WYNN THOMAS (Production Design) most recently designed for "Wag the Dog," "Mars Attacks!" and "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar."

He has also designed for Robert De Niro's directorial debut feature "A Bronx Tale," Robert Townsend's "The Five Heartbeats," and "Eddie Murphy's Raw." Thomas has worked with filmmaker Spike Lee on "Crooklyn," "Malcolm X," "Jungle Fever," "Mo' Better Blues," "Do The Right Thing," "School Daze" and on Thomas' debut feature as a production designer, "She's Gotta Have It." He has also been the art director for "The Package."

Thomas grew up in Philadelphia where he started working in theater for the Society Hill Playhouse. He studied theater design at Boston University. After graduating, he worked for two years as a resident designer for the Negro Ensemble Company in New York and worked with the late Joseph Papp on New York Shakespeare Festival and New York Public Theater productions.

Thomas apprenticed with Academy Award®-winning production designer Patrizia Von Brandenstein, working on such productions as "The Cotton Club," "The Money Pit," "Brighton Beach Memoirs," and on "Beat Street" where Thomas first met Lee while the fledgling filmmaker was interviewing for a position as an assistant director.

BARRY ALEXANDER BROWN (Editor) most recently worked with filmmaker Spike Lee on "Crooklyn" and "Malcolm X," and previously edited Lee's "Do The Right Thing" and "School Daze." Brown was also post-production consultant and sound editor for Lee's "She's Gotta Have It," and has collaborated with him as an editor for some of his major television commercial campaigns.

Brown also edited "Madonna: Truth or Dare," and previously worked with independent filmmaker Mira Nair, editing her features "India Cabaret" and "Salaam Bombay." The latter film won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Foreign Film in 1988.

In 1980, he and partner Glenn Silber produced and directed the documentary "The War At Home," which was commercially successful and received an Academy Award® nomination for best feature-length documentary. Brown made his feature directing debut with the 1991 independent feature "Lonely In America," which he also co-wrote.

Born in Warrington, England, but raised in Montgomery, Alabama, Brown later attended high school in Madison, Wisconsin where he began acting in summer stock and directing children's theater productions. At age 17, he moved to New York City to pursue acting full-time and appeared in several films including "Joe" and Andy Warhol's "Flesh," also acting in the popular off-Broadway production "Futz." He then attended film school at the Orson Welles Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts and began directing several short-subject films.

Returning to Wisconsin in 1975, he shifted from acting to producing and directing, beginning his work in documentaries. In 1980, along with several other independent filmmakers, he founded First Run Features, a distribution company dedicated to the distribution of American independent feature films. As president of the company, he helped to significantly broaden distribution outlets for such films as "Northern Lights," "The Life and Times of Rosie The Riveter" and "Witness to War." In 1984, with Sandi Sissel, he produced and edited the short film "Highwire" centering on tightrope artist Philippe Petit.

In 1981, Brown met Spike Lee through a colleague while Lee was studying at N.Y.U. Brown hired Lee to do some work for a Manhattan division of First Run Features and the two filmmakers forged an association that has carried on to the present.

As leader and co-founder of PUBLIC ENEMY, Chuck D has parlayed his many gifts-booming voice, congenial yet forceful personality and unparalleled ability to articulate thought-provoking view points-into a hugely successful performance and marketing empire. Theorist, lyricist and lead rapper, he is able to rap about issues of race, rage and inequality. Constantly quoted, seen on television throughout the world and idolized by legions of youth from all cultures, Chuck D is an uncompromising fighter for the art form of rap music & hip hop.

Lead voice of the ground-breaking and controversial Public Enemy, Chuck D has produced three multi-platinum albums, three gold albums, four gold singles, a platinum home video and has received numerous national and international awards. He recently released a solo effort, Autobiography of Mistachuck, a hard-core poetic statement aimed at the music industry and published his first book Fight The Power: Chuck D on Rap, Race and Reality (Delacorte) last fall.

Although Chuck D recently made his film acting debut in Touchstone Pictures' "An Alan Smithee Film Burn Hollywood Burn" he has written numerous songs for features including "Mad City," "Bulworth," scored "Juice," "Streetfighters," "Do the Right Thing," "Mo' Money," "Jungle Fever," Strapped" and "Less Than Zero." His television music credits includes PBS' "Rock & Roll," "New York Undercover," HBO's "Def Comedy Jam," The Discovery Channel's "The Promised Land" and Warner Bros. "The History of Rock & Roll."

In 1995 Chuck D branched out into new areas beyond music. He negotiated a rap label with Sony Music called Slam Jamz, and began development of RAPP STATION-HIP HOP NATION, a multimedia web site. In addition, he is organizing REACH (Rappers Educating All Curricula Through Hip Hop), a foundation which brings together rap/hip hop artists, school systems and community organizations.

A regular on the college and community lecture circuit, Chuck D recently joined Fox News Channel to provide his unique brand of commentary on topical news issues and to develop news features packages for the network. Also involved with numerous national organizations, community groups, and public service campaigns, he serves as a national spokesman for Rock the Vote, the National Urban League, and the National Alliance of African American Athletes. He has also appeared in HBO public service announcements for the campaign for national peace and the Partnership for a Drug Free America.

SANDRA HERNANDEZ (Costume Design) has collaborated with filmmaker Spike Lee on several films, and has been costume designer for "Get On the Bus" and "Girl 6." She made her feature debut as costume designer on the critically acclaimed comedy "I Like It Like That," directed by Darnell Martin.

She began her design career as a wardrobe department intern under the tutelage of Ruth Carter, who received an Academy Award® nomination for her work on "Malcolm X" and most recently for "Amistad." Hernandez worked with Carter, and with Donna Berwick on "Jungle Fever," "Malcolm X" and "Clockers." She also served as Carter's assistant on "Amistad." Hernandez has also styled numerous videos and national television commercial campaigns.

Born in The Bronx, New York, she graduated from Norfolk State University in Virginia, and credits filmmaker Spike Lee for her start in the industry.

ALEX STEYERMARK (Music Supervisor) has established himself as a music supervisor for feature films working with such directors as Spike Lee ("Get On the Bus," "Four Little Girls," "Girl 6," "Clockers," "Crooklyn," "Malcolm X"), and Ang Lee ("The Ice Storm"), Victor Nunez ("Ulee's Gold"), Jonathan Demme ("Subway Stories"), Paul Schrader ("Touch," "Light Sleeper"), Barry Sonnenfeld ("For Love or Money"), and James Lapine ("Impromptu"), among many others. He recently supervised Mandalay Entertainment's "I Know What You Did Last Summer," Jim Sheridan's "The Boxer," and Nick Hytner's "The Object of My Affection." He is currently the music supervisor on Ang Lee's "To Live On." He was also the music supervisor for the first two seasons of Thirteen/WNET's Emmy Award-winning "CityArts" television series, a weekly magazine program about the arts in New York.

Last year, Alex joined the team of music supervisors at Windswept Pacific Entertainment. He also owns 1m1 Trax, a soundtrack imprint label distributed by Sire Records through Metropolitan Entertainment's hybrid recordings.

Alex has also produced records for SONY Classical, Terence Blanchard's orchestral scores for "Get On The Bus" and "Clockers," and Stephen Endelman's score for the Nancy Savoca film, "Household Saints."

In addition to his music supervising work, Alex has directed several award-winning music videos, and recently co-directed a half-hour film with Brian Cox for Rhino Records featuring recording artist Ben Vaughn.

Alex's involvement with music for drama extends into contemporary opera. He wrote the libretto for a new opera, "Red Rubber," with music by Flemish composer Dirk D'Ase. Alex also directed the world premiere of "Red Rubber" in Antwerp, Belgium in May, 1993, when that city served as Cultural Capital of Europe. The production was a joint effort with the Brussels Royal Opera La Monnaie and featured a cast of internationally renowned singers from the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Royal Opera Covent Garden, among others. Alex also wrote the lyrics for two song cycles for piano and soprano with music by D'Ase, one of which, "Peel The Plum," received its American premiere at the Vineyard Theater in New York City in 1994.

In 1993, he wrote the libretto for an opera performed by children, "A Lot to Keep," with music by English composer Stephen Endelman, through a commission from Downtown Music Productions and the Meet The Composer Education Program.

Alex is also the recipient of 1994 and 1995 ASCAP Writer's Awards.

AARON COPLAND (Music) was born in Brooklyn, New York and became one of the most prolific and prominent American composers of the 20th century. Among his most revered compositions were commissioned for the ballet, including "Appalachian Spring," "Billy the Kid" and "Rodeo."

He also composed classic motion picture scores including the music for "Of Mice and Men," "Our Town," "North Star" and "The Heiress."

Among the composer's classic work that appears in Touchstone Pictures' "He Got Game" are "Fanfare For the Common Man," "Appalachian Spring," "Rodeo: 'Hoe-Down,'" and "Orchestral Variations."

Copland's orchestral, chamber, keyboard and choral compositions made him a legend in his own time. He died in 1990.

EARL MONROE (Hoops Technical Consultant), "The Pearl," during his entire basketball career-high school, college and professional-established himself as one of the game's most exciting and innovative guards.

He began his electrifying style of one-on-one play at John Bartram High School in Philadelphia, and continued under Hall of Fame Coach Clarence "Big House" Gaines at Winston-Salem State University.

As a collegian he averaged 26.7 points in 110 games, including a 41.5 mark as a senior when he led the Rams to the NCAA College Division Championship, where he was named Most Outstanding Player. Earl was named First Team All-American in 1966 & 1967.

Drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in 1967, he was named Rookie of the Year in 1968.

Monroe was traded to the New York Knicks in 1971. During his remarkable 13 year career in the NBA, Earl appeared in four All-Star games. A member of the 1973 Knicks Championship team, his uniform number was retired in 1986. Earl was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.

Since retiring in 1980, Earl has been Commissioner of the USBL, and has done broadcasting for ABC Radio, NBC TV and the MSG Network. In addition, he is president of The Earl Monroe Group of New Jersey, a painting, flooring and wall covering company.

Earl devotes numerous hours to charitable and civic causes and has received many awards for his work with young people. He currently serves as vice president of the Urban Development Corporation of New Jersey.

Back to "He Got Game"

Look for Search Tips

Copyright 1994-2008 Film Scouts LLC
Created, produced, and published by Film Scouts LLC
Film Scouts® is a registered trademark of Film Scouts LLC
All rights reserved.

Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.