Spike Lee to Teach an Online Course on Filmmaking; Get Ready By Watching His List of 95 Essential Films

When Spike Lee makes a movie, people talk about it. People talked in 1986 when he made the black-and-white indie comedy She's Gotta Have It; they talked even more when he came out with Do the Right Thing a few years later; they talked, with sharply divided opinion, about his most recent picture, the crime-themed musical Chi-Raq; and they're already talking about his upcoming Black Klansman, and not just because of the title. Lee has managed to remain culturally and artistically relevant throughout a career of more than thirty years and counting, and his new online course at Masterclass just might let us in on how he's done it.

"When you're an independent filmmaker, and making films outside Hollywood, that's hard," says the long Brooklyn-based Lee in the trailer for the course above. "You have to pray on bended knee at the church of cinema." But even as an aspiring auteur with a pocket-change budget — Lee remembers well when he "was a caterer, the producer, the director, the screenwriter, acted in it, and I was the first AD" on his first feature — you already possess "tools that can help you tell a story": heightening dynamic camerawork to heighten the emotions, for instance, or writing characters with strong beliefs to intensify the conflicts of the story. He used such techniques when he started out, and he still uses them today.

Though Lee seems more than willing to talk about his methods, you can't fully understand any filmmaker unless you understand that filmmaker's influences. And so we offer you Lee's list of 95 essential movies every aspiring director should see, expanded from his original list of 87, drawn up to hand out to the graduate-school classes he's taught. Featuring multiple works from directors like Akira Kurosawa, Alfred Hitchcock, Federico Fellini, John Huston, and Stanley Kubrick, the first version of the list runs as follows:

Taken to task for that list's lack of female filmmakers, Lee came up with these additions:

  • The Piano - Jane Campion (1993)
  • Daughters of the Dust - Julie Dash (1991)
  • The Hurt Locker - Kathryn Bigelow (2008)
  • Sugar Cane Alley - Euzhan Palcy (1983)
  • The Seduction of Mimi - Lina Wertmuller (1972)
  • Love and Anarchy - Lina Wertmuller (1973)
  • Swept Away - Lina Wertmuller (1974)
  • Seven Beauties - Lina Wertmuller (1975)

Lee's Masterclass on filmmaking joins the site's other offerings on the same subject from auteurs no less distinctive than Martin Scorsese and Werner Herzog. Though all three became major filmmakers at different times and under different circumstances — and ended up with very different cinematic sensibilities — they all, as Lee might put it, pray at the same church.

And just as it takes the perspective of many theologists to get a sense of the ineffable essence of the divine, so it takes the perspective of many filmmakers to get an ineffable essence of cinema. You could take all three courses with Masterclass' $180 all-access pass, or you could pay $90 for just Lee's. (His course will be officially ready in summer, but you can pre-enroll now.) Either way, you'll learn how he made She's Gotta Have It for a then-dirt-cheap $175,000, but these days you could surely go out and shoot your own film afterward for not much more than the cost of the Masterclass itself. It's still hard out there for an indie filmmaker, mind you; just not quite as hard as it was.

Note: MasterClasss and Open Culture have a partnership. If you sign up for a MasterClass course, it benefits not just you and MasterClass. It benefits Open Culture too. So consider it win-win-win.

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Spike Lee’s List of 95 Essential Movies – Now with Women Filmmakers

Martin Scorsese to Teach His First Online Course on Filmmaking

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A Free Oxford Course on Deep Learning: Cutting Edge Lessons in Artificial Intelligence

Nando de Freitas is a "machine learning professor at Oxford University, a lead research scientist at Google DeepMind, and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR) in the Neural Computation and Adaptive Perception program."

Above, you can watch him teach an Oxford course on Deep Learning, a hot subfield of machine learning and artificial intelligence which creates neural networks--essentially complex algorithms modeled loosely after the human brain--that can recognize patterns and learn to perform tasks.

To complement the 16 lectures you can also find lecture slides, practicals, and problems sets on this Oxford web site. If you'd like to learn about Deep Learning in a MOOC format, be sure to check out the new series of courses created by Andrew Ng on Coursera.

Oxford's Deep Learning course will be added to our list of Free Online Computer Science Courses, part of our meta collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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A Free Online Course Helps Us Identify Hoaxes, Rumors & Misinformation in the News

In early February, we highlighted for you A Field Guide to Fake News and Other Information Disorders, a free manual published by First Draft, a non-profit based at Harvard's Shorenstein Center that supports truth and trust in news.

This month, First Draft has followed up with Verification Training, a free online course designed to help "teachers, journalists and the general public [learn] how to verify online media, so that they don't fall for hoaxes, rumors and misinformation." The handy and timely course was developed by Claire Wardle, First Draft's executive director. You can sign up here.

Verification Training will be added to our meta collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Coursera Now Offering Complete Bachelor’s and Master’s Programs–With Tuition Reduced by 70%

As we observed last October, Coursera has been undergoing an evolution of sorts. When the ed tech company started out, it offered an array of individual courses to students worldwide. A little of this. And a little of that. Now, they're increasingly moving towards courses that work together in sequences. First came "course specializations"--collections of courses that allow students to gain a mastery of specialized topics like Deep Learning, Data Science (Johns Hopkins), Business Fundamentals (Wharton), Digital Marketing (University of Illinois), and Big Data (UC San Diego). Next it was just a logical jump to offering full-blown Bachelor's and Master's programs at a discounted price (roughly 1/3 the usual cost.) As of this month, Coursera offers one Bachelor's program (Computer Science from the University of London), one MBA, and eight Master's programs. The full list of degree programs appears below:

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Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses, it helps support Open Culture.

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Jane Goodall Now Teaching a Free Online Course on Developing Compassionate Leaders: Enroll and Start Today

FYI: Starting today, you can enroll in Jane Goodall's course on cultivating compassionate leaders. Offered through the University of Colorado-Boulder, the free MOOC will help participants "mentor young people to lead change in their communities using community mapping, collaborating with stakeholders, and designing practical solutions in the form of campaigns." Although mainly designed for "K-12 formal and informal educators in the United States," the course nonetheless welcomes anyone interested in compassion and leadership. Find more information about the class at this UC-Boulder page.

Separately, Goodall has also recently developed a course on conserving the environment. It's available through Masterclass. We have a few more details here.

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If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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IDEO.org’s Free Design Course on Prototyping Starts Today

A quick fyi: IDEO.org, the non-profit arm of the famous California design firm IDEO, is launching a free 4-week course on Prototyping.

As you might recall, we featured several months back A Crash Course in Design Thinking from Stanford’s Design School. If that piqued your interest in design and design thinking, then IDEO.org's course might hold appeal.

Design Kit: Prototyping will help you learn how to build prototypes in "a low-cost and risk-averse way to get your ideas into the hands of the people you're trying to change." Running from March 12 through April 17, the course will teach you best practices for prototyping products, services, interactions, and environments.

More free courses can be found in our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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1000+ MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) Getting Started in March: Enroll Today

FYI: 1,000+ MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are getting underway this month, giving you the chance to take free courses from top flight universities. With the help of Class Central, we've pulled together a complete list of March MOOCS. And below we've highlighted several courses that piqued our interest. The trailer above comes from the Introduction to Philosophy, a course created by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Some courses officially got started a couple of days ago (circa March 5). But the train hasn't left the station. You can still jump on.

Here's one tip to keep in mind: If you want to take a course for free, select the "Full Course, No Certificate" or "Audit" option when you enroll. If you would like an official certificate documenting that you have successfully completed the course, you will need to pay a fee.

You can browse through the complete list of March MOOCs here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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