Who are you and what is your profession?
I'm Willie Orlando Ford, a cameraman based in Detroit, Michigan.
Can you tell us a little about your background and upbringing?
Being born and raised in Detroit was a wonderful experience!
My parents both came here from the south in the 50's looking for that American dream. And found it too!
I grew up in a average neighborhood surrounded with really good hard working people.
My sisters and I have great childhood memories of our town. We made the most of what we had.
And we laughed a lot!
What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
After working in photography a while, I was able to make a career change and went into video production. And I haven't looked back since.
Over time, I was drawn to doing documentaries. It gives you time to really dive into a subject and look at all the possible angles to find out which would be the best way to tell the story. It's a slower process, but it's great watching a good story come together.
I'm inspired by all the great work being done by all the filmmakers all over the planet. I can see work from all over the world. And thanks to technology, I can see a great movie, chat with the filmmaker, and even find people to collaborate on projects with. It's a wonderful time to work in production!
Who or what do you most admire?
I admire that filmmaker who takes you on a journey. Whose style and narrative really keeps you engaged, whether it's a 20-minute short or a full length feature. And afterwards you feel as though you've learned something or been somewhere. With so many things to watch now, it's nice to see people really putting their passions out there.
What do you love about Detroit?
Detroit is a city that never surrenders (as if we had a choice).
No matter what obstacles get thrown at us we always find a way to either go over or around it.
I remember all the jokes, bad press, and horrible national and international things said about us over the years. And now to see that people are saying not good, but great things about the work we're doing here, in turning our city around. It makes me feel proud.
What do you fear most for Detroit?
Sometimes I fear that we will slide backwards, and all the progress and changes that have been done will just fade away. But I know it won't.
Fear is just a feeling, often not based in fact. That's how you overcome it.
What do you hope for Detroit in the next 20 years?
My hope in the next 20 years is that the Detroit I know of will be a thing of the past. The kind of past people talk about, like "Wow, the city was really like that back then, huh?"
I'm a realist. I know it will take a lot longer than that to totally transform the city into something great again.
But it's a dream we are all working toward here. That's what keeps us going. And I sincerely hope that never changes.