Famous Filmmakers Visit The L.A. Film School

Our main campus location in Hollywood has its perks. The Los Angeles Film School and The Los Angeles Recording School, a division of The L.A. Film School, are both located on Sunset Boulevard and are surrounded by the buzzy hustle of Hollywood.

Major movie premieres often happen across the street from LAFS at the ArcLight Theatre. Even our own campus movie theatre is used for film screenings that make their promotional rounds (prior to COVID closures). 

Over the years, we’ve had countless Hollywood directors, screenwriters and cinematographers impart their wisdom to students. In honor of Black History Month, we’re revisiting top African American filmmakers who spoke on campus and shared invaluable insights into the entertainment business. The audio for these interviews can be found on Jeff Goldsmith’s podcast, which is linked in the text below.

Jordan Peele Talks “Get Out” on Campus

Jordan Peele at The L.A. Film School Movie Theatre. Photo by LAFS.

Back in February of 2017, The L.A. Film School had Jordan Peele and podcast host Jeff Goldsmith on campus to chat about the hit horror film, Get Out. The movie shattered the horror- genre box office records that year. In fact, Jordan Peele’s Get Out is still in the top 3 highest-grossing R-rated horror movies in North America

Screenwriter/director Jordan Peele made his filmmaking debut with Get Out. But before Jordan Peele became a horror movie legend, he wrote sketch comedies for MadTV that didn’t necessarily do all that well. Nonetheless, Jordan Peele gained experience finding his own writing voice and unique comedic style. After years of working on sketches for MadTV’s Key and Peele, he finally left the network in 2008 to pursue other gigs. Peele racked up an impressive number of guest roles in shows like Children’s Hospital, Wet Hot American Summer, and Bob’s Burgers

Jordan Peele’s success skyrocketed in 2017. The Los Angeles Film School along with podcast host Jeff Goldsmith screened his movie Get Out for a packed audience and held a special Q&A. Find out more about his journey from sketch comedies to horror films. Listen to the entire podcast with Jordan Peele.

John Ridley Talks “12 Years a Slave” On Campus

John Ridley at The L.A. Film School Movie Theatre. Photo by LAFS.

John Ridley’s road to filmmaking is a circuitous one. He studied East Asian Languages and Culture at NYU. After college, Ridley ended up moving to Japan, and he found inspiration in the people and places that surrounded him. Ridley slowly started writing and working in showbusiness after his travels.

John Ridley had a stint in stand-up comedy and began writing for weekly sitcom TV in the ‘90s. He worked on shows like Martin and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air then wrote and directed his first crime thriller, Cold Around the Heart, in 1997.

But John Ridley’s breakout came from the film adaptation of the 1853 slave memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup. Ridley masterfully turned a first-person narrative that spanned 12 years into a two-hour film for the silver screen. It was a reductive process that Ridley was careful to honor the historical implications when he wrote the screenplay. 12 Years a Slave won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2014, which was the first film from a Black director to ever receive the Academy’s highest award.

Listen to the entire chat with John Ridley and Jeff Goldsmith at The Los Angeles Film School to learn more about the screenplay for 12 Years a Slave.

Spike Lee Talks “OldBoy” on Campus

Spike Lee at The L.A. Film School Movie Theatre. Photo by LAFS.

Spike Lee went to film school before there was such thing as digital film. Lee studied at Morehouse College as well as NYU where he wanted to get his hands on the film equipment and work with like-minded film students. Throughout his impressive filmmaking career, Lee has focused on thought-provoking films that explore race relations, political issues, and violence particularly in communities of color.

He splashed on the scene with his 1986 film, She’s Gotta Have it, which only took two weeks to shoot with a budget of $175K. The movie grossed $7 million and is considered the most profitable movie in 1986. Lee went on to direct, produce and write films over the past four decades and only keeps adding to his impressive filmography.
In 2013, Spike Lee visited The L.A. Film School to discuss his movie Oldboy with screenwriter Mark Protosevich. The two filmmakers chatted about storytelling, character development and their film careers with podcast host Jeff Goldsmith. Listen to the entire podcast with Spike Lee and Mark Protosevich.

Barry Jenkins Talks “Moonlight” On Campus

Barry Jenkins at The L.A. Film School Movie Theatre. Photo by LAFS.

Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of playwright Tarell Alvin McCarney’s In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue is what ascended Jenkins into the top Hollywood filmmaker category in 2016. This film tackles the solitary experiences of a young Black boy who is struggling with his sexuality as well as his abusive home life. 

Jenkins studied film and writing in school, which was where his love of visual storytelling began. In his award-winning film Moonlight, Jenkins focuses on the emotional response that moving pictures can have on an audience to carry the tone of the film. In an unforgettable twist, Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2017 at the 89th Academy Awards.

Jenkins joined eight other Oscar-nominated screenwriters on stage at The L.A. Film School to discuss their artistic processes in 2017. Listen to the full podcast episode with Barry Jenkins and Jeff Goldsmith.