Posted in DETROIT, ENTERTAINMENT by urbanmi on June 22, 2012

Detropia from Ford Foundation on Vimeo.

I was waiting to write about this one until after I see it,

but I want to help draw attention to this work.


This is the type of work on Detroit, that is beginning to come out with much more regularity, much like the online short series from Palladium Boots, that shows the problems but the positive actions as well.  This positive narrative needs to be encouraged; cultivated. My graduate architecture thesis from 2010-2011 (which I will begin to publish
It will be shown on PBS next season, I will definitely be watching unless I can find a way to watch prior to that date.on here) explored these very same themes. It is counter productive to perpetuate the narrative of Detroit as a dying city; Detroit is not dead, and due to its importance economically, strategically, and politically, Detroit will not die. Detroit is a struggling and sick urban core that exists in a thriving and rich metropolitan region.

The production also demonstrates the powerful potential of ground-up financing structures such as Kickstarter have for creative works. Through these crowd-sourced financing structures, artists, filmmakers, developers, etc. are able to find the niche markets that will inevitably be their audience and directly appeal to those with like-minded interest as a means for accomplishing projects. It is freer, it frees production from the top-down financing that can prove to be a limitation.


30 Minutes or Less

Posted in GRAND RAPIDS by urbanmi on June 20, 2012

I miss Taco Boy.

I forgot about its existence.

I finally made the time to watch “30 Minutes or Less.” The was filmed in and around and takes place in and around my hometown of Grand Rapids. It stars Jesse Eisenberg, Danny Mcbride, Nick Swardson, and Aziz Ansari; the movie is the most significant movie filmed in Grand Rapids to this point. Other films made in Grand Rapids have been straight to video, like the Val Kilmer romp “The Steam Experiment.”

Unfortunately with the end of the Michigan Film Tax Credit it will probably be the last film made in Grand Rapids (Thanks Gov. Rick Snyder). This is unfortunate for Michigan Audiences. Previously, we, as a state, have enjoyed a few significant films either filmed in or that take place in the State (Evil Dead Series, Robocop, etc.)

The experience of watching one’s own city and one’s own environment presented on screen is its own experience. Fictional, Factual, and Interpretive accounts of what a city is and what a city means. What it means to experience a city and be a part of a city. These films add to that lore and enrich the mythology of those cities. Cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles get overlooked through the regularity of being a setting.

Film captures the temporality of the Urban Experience. The emphasis of narrative elevates a city to more than setting, to a character in itself. The city becomes friend, foe, protagonist, or antagonist. Film, as a medium, reveals content about the city invisible and difficult to garner through other mediums.  Distance is understood through mood; humor is brought out by circumstance.

Detroit has been both celebrated and victimized in film.  (A dissection to be conducted more specifically at another time.)  Film transmits the essence of a city to a large audience quickly, immediately, and more completely.


Guy Madden’s My Winnipeg documents of the city he grew up in.


Refer to Jack Lessenberry for great commentary on the Michigan Film Tax Credit

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