By Don Hart –
To start a movement you’ve got to have people of good will who see a potential and then decide to “kick it up” with their own personal energy.
Rolling up to the videotaping of #MOVEahead Detroit , we had several key things happen—simply because people stepped up to give us a hand. Here’s an example: Mike Glinski, a Detroit production artist brought on the team by Craig Mungons, our producer, showed us around town and helped us make a connection with The Imagination Station. This important Detroit creative organization has an open lot just across the street from Roosevelt Park that they made available so that we could provide parking for the crowd. Solving the logistics of parking was an important cornerstone for determining where we would shoot; and so the decision was made to go with Roosevelt Park.
Thanks to some extra support from Linda Vinyard from the Film Board in the Office of the Mayor of Detroit, we received our filming permit. With that in hand, we went to the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, where Tracey Lawrence and her team expedited our park permit. Once we’d figured out porta potties, mowing the lawn and perimeter security, we were ready to roll.
Well, we were, but the weather didn’t want us to put it in gear. We had to cancel the shoot in June because of rain; but we returned confidently to the Park with all cylinders humming on July 20th to a beautiful day for production.
O.K., so how did that production day happen? Let’s go first to Craig Mungons, our producer. Craig has produced commercial spots all around the world for significant firms, from Chevy to the Navy to ConocoPhillips. But something captured his interest about investigating human relationships in Detroit. He became our “first follower” and drew other production friends into the team. Craig’s tenacity in bringing clarity to the work and detailing out every aspect of production were absolutely critical to pulling this happening off.
So how did things start to move? Gina Thompson. Gina, our choreographer, and principal of PURe Dance Ensemble took hold of this project and recruited a diverse team of dancers. She worked tirelessly with them in rehearsal after rehearsal—in the studio and at the park. She helped shape character and situation and developed rehearsed sequences as well as improv scenarios. Her ensemble included a very special talent, Maurice Archer, our lead break-dancer and a whole slew of fabulous primary dancers. And these dancers not only performed, but brought their families, who made up a significant part of the crowd. (Maurice’s family topped the list at 26—or was it 50—of the total members who brought their moves!)
Next, enter Jim Pinard, our director. Jim stepped in from Florida to direct after having just caravanned his family there to live. And he opened up the possibility of discovering true moments of connection for each member of the crowd—catching them ignoring, then noticing, becoming more curious, ignoring again, and then jumping in.
David Crandol, a Roosevelt neighbor and a Vietnam vet, brought together a crackerjack location and security team and the color guard from the local veterans center. He was on point–integrating the neighborhood into the mix.
David Peterson, of Stone Bridge Productions, oversaw the visuals of our production as both director of photography and editor. He searched through hours of footage from five cameras to find the best takes, and shape the layers of action that drove the story forward, climaxing as everyone in the park comes together.
Mel and Adam Bice, who provided photography and art direction for all of our promotional materials, came in from Jackson, Michigan, with their family to fill out the crowd and juggle some bocce balls. Kelsey Cratty, our talent coordinator, who just returned from Honduras working with street kids, volunteered with Linda Weatherly to bring the hospitality and make it a great day for a rowdy crowd.
Joel Rodeheaver flew in with his drone from Grand Rapids, bringing intern Nick Buwalda with him, who provided key footage for our “making of” video. Christian Lathers wrangled all the production logistics the day of and even pulled a rabbit out of his hat when Joel’s drone, right before the final scene, decided to take the rest of the day off. We turned to Christian in desperation and he said, “Hey, I think Evan Denomme, one of our production assistants, has his drone in his trunk.” Sure enough, 100 yards away, Evan had his drone and willingly brought it forward, so Joel and he got the shot. That shot, in which John Kaley, of MotionPixel Images, through his visual effects wizardry, made our crowd grow from 80 to 200 and more. (How did he do that?) (Link to the Creative Team Interview blog)
Add in David Merritt, our narrator, who is already crazy busy with everything he’s doing—Merit Goodness and the Fate program, that helps Detroit kids earn college scholarships, plus advancing Merit Apparel and launching his new café—still kicked it in and brought his voice and spirit to the project.
And how about that crowd! Moms and dads, and aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas, and little babies to teenagers of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds—all working together for hours on this hot summer day to create some joy and magic.
This kind of goodwill has a quality all its own. It’s inventive. It doesn’t get bent out of shape when challenges speed bump in the way. It steps across creative and interpersonal barriers to create something new…something special.
No one could pay for this goodwill. But maybe a bit of a payback would be seeing people like you and me and a bunch of others start to #MOVEahead together.
Here’s to women and men, boys and girls of good will!