Alex Stoddard ’23

Masterclass Spike Lee Teaches Independent Filmmaking, Timbaland Teaches Music Production

This summer, I took two courses through the Alumni Sponsored Internship Program: Timbaland’s masterclass on producing and beatmaking, and Spike Lee’s masterclass on independent filmmaking.

Timbaland’s class gave an in-depth look into the way he and his team produce and work with artists. Timbaland showed his workflow for starting a beat, which was a unique approach to me, as he usually starts out with humming and beatboxing his ideas, and then goes back in and lays down the patterns within the music production software. Another important lesson he spoke on was ways to overcome creative blocks in your music production. He recommended simply doing other things, like working out or playing video games, to take your mind off of the music so that when you return, you are able to come back with fresh ideas.

In Spike Lee’s class, he gave numerous tips on how to approach various aspects of filmmaking, such as working with actors, writing the film, and budgeting. He also spoke on many of the challenges an up and coming filmmaker will face, such as not receiving the budget they feel they need, and explained how he was able to recruit high profile friends of his to contribute to the budget on his film Malcolm X. Another important point he made was emphasizing the importance of having the right team. Each role must be able to work together effectively for a film to reach its full potential, from the actors, to the editors, to the director of photography.

These professional development courses tie directly into the areas of study that I am pursuing. While I am undecided on my major, I have already taken two courses on music and one on film, and will be taking another music course this fall. Having been producing music for over three years now, taking Timbaland’s class has complemented my own personal experiences well to build on my knowledge of music production and the music industry. I will certainly be able to incorporate many of the lessons and tips he gave into my own production and studies of music and music theory this upcoming year and down the road.

I have also been filming and editing videos since I was in fifth grade and plan to continue with it; Spike Lee’s class gave me new ideas to think about in my own videos. Previously, I produced primarily sports highlight videos and documentaries, but I have always wanted to get into scripted videos as well. This class will provide me with a great framework for beginning to make these kinds of videos.

I would like to sincerely thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Estate of Bruce C. Davey for providing me with the opportunity to take these professional development courses through the Alumni Sponsored Internship Program. These classes have given me the opportunity to learn more about some of the people who have been extremely successful in areas that I am extremely passionate about.