Spike Lee Returns To Directing For A Series About ROTC

Spike Lee is returning to directing in a new series about the ROTC program for Amazon Studios.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

The legendary Spike Lee is getting back into the director’s chair for an Amazon Studios project about the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC). As reported by Deadline, the currently untitled project will be a coming-of-age drama set at a major university. Students from different walks of life will join the ROTC and push themselves in ways that they never thought possible.

Two military veterans turned Hollywood writers, Jalysa Conway from 9-1-1: Lone Star and Scandal, and Rebecca Murger of Swagger, are behind the project. Both writers joined ROTC to assist in paying for college before embarking on successful military careers. The writers got the attention of Spike Lee after he saw their pitch video for the project and was impressed enough to sign on as both an executive producer and the director.

spike lee

Conway and Murger came out of the Rideback TV Incubator program, a residency program specifically for writers from diverse backgrounds to get the opportunity to develop and create their own programs. Spike Lee has a history of reaching out and helping other young filmmakers of color. Most recently, the acclaimed director has served as a mentor for Native American filmmaker Kyle Bell.

Attaching Spike Lee to any project is going to increase its visibility and chances of making it through the long production process. With a career spanning almost 40 years and over 35 movies, he is one of the most honored directors in American cinema history. At this year’s Director’s Guild awards, the organization honored Lee with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction.

Four of Spike Lee’s films have been enshrined in the Library of Congress for being of cultural and historical significance: She’s Gotta Have It, 4 Little Girls, Do The Right Thing, and Malcolm X. Lee’s work frequently deals with the topic of race relations, urban crime, and issues within the black community. As a result, he has earned multiple Emmys, Academy Awards, Peabodys, and the NAACP President’s Award.

It will be interesting to see what Spike Lee brings to a dramatic streaming series about the ROTC program. The goal of the ROTC is to train college students for future service as Officers in the United States Armed Forces. Different ROTC branches exist for the major branches of the Army, Navy, and Air Force with the upcoming series currently unclear as to which branch will be the focus.

Traditionally the ROTC has been overlooked in media which instead has focused on Army and Marine basic training, perhaps most notably in the Demi Moore film G.I. Jane. Other movies have shown how military training can be damaging to participants, including Full Metal Jacket and Jarhead, starring Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal. Given the raw, realistic portrayals of urban life found in Spike Lee’s filmography, the upcoming ROTC series may be darker than Conway and Murger’s past shows.

Directing a streaming series is in line with Spike Lee’s latest career moves, including the hit Vietnam film, starring the late Chadwick Boseman, Da 5 Bloods for Netflix. The director currently has a multi-picture deal with the streaming giant to direct more original movies for the service. Lee’s next film is a movie musical about the origins of Pfizer’s little blue pill, Viagra.