Though his name is now legendary in the film industry, Lee says that he didn't always envision himself being a director. However, in the summer of 1977, a friend gave him a camera and, having no other job at the time, he dedicated those few months to shooting everything he could—footage he would later turn into his first documentary, Last Hustle In Brooklyn.
“Film found me,” says Lee. “Notice what I said. 'Film found me.' I didn't say, 'I found film.'”
Even before he knew he loved filmmaking, he had an instinctual knack for tracking down interesting events. In 1977, New York City experienced a blackout and mass looting, hosted its first discos, and lived in fear of the infamous serial killer David Berkowitz (or the Son of Sam)—all of which Lee captured on film. Shortly after compiling these events into his documentary, he was given his first major commercial deal with Nike, which helped to cement his status in the industry. His passion and ability to tell compelling stories has contributed to both his critical acclaim and his candid personal presence. Whether it's behind the camera, or in front of an audience, Lee is never at a loss for words; providing us with a behind-the-scenes look at some of the themes and moments in history that have comprised his impressive body of work, and made him one of today's most respected filmmakers.