One Day in Detroit

Profile Spotlight: Philip Lauri/Detroit Lives

After the Factory Film Trailer from DETROIT LIVES! on Vimeo.

Who are you and what is your profession?
I am Philip Lauri, Creative Director at Detroit Lives!, a creative studio and social brand specializing in film production.
Can you tell us a little about your background and upbringing?
I was born in the suburb of Rochester, but grew up mostly in a small town in mid-Michigan called Owosso.  I moved back to Metro-Detroit when I was 13 and went to middle school and high school here.  I went to college at Michigan State graduating with a degree in business and worked in Chicago and Portland for two different jobs before getting laid off and moving to Detroit in 2008.  After a few months here and being generally sick of a lot of the self-loathing in the city, I started my company.  We started with a clothing line, street art and documentary films and really picked up steam in 2012 with our documentary "After the Factory."  It's been a fun ride, and I feel lucky to do something that I love.

What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

I've always been really curious about the world around me after my parents shipped me off to Japan as an exchange student when I was 15.  It really did a number on my global perspective-- not just understanding the world around me, but really getting a sense of what was important to me on a human level.  Priorities and stuff.  I saw a completely different way of life out there in Japan, and it made me think about what I really wanted for myself.  Five years later I went to Sydney for a semester to study.  And in a completely different way I got to dive deeply in to another way of life out there.  I returned home from Australia and decided I wanted to do a loop around the world when I graduated from Michigan State and started saving money to do it.  That plan came to fruition in 2005 when I put my life in a backpack and returned to Australia in December to start the long road home.   That June I ended in Africa.  It was an intense 7 months, eye opening in every imaginable way.  My love for storytelling was born out of those moments on the road where I realized there's a lot more to life and how to live it than what is established via cultural norms in my own country.  It seemed like there was so much more to explore, and filmmaking became a great way to do it.  
Who or what do you most admire?
I admire craft, vision and steadfast commitment.  There's a lot of people that I look up to that embody that in a multitude of ways: Corey Booker, Chuck Klosterman, Candy Chang, Aaron Draplin, Wolfgang Egger, Wes Anderson, Stephen Powers.  Ha.  I could definitely keep going.
What do you love about Detroit?
Detroit is weird and different in so many ways.  I love that.  It's a place that breeds an interesting form of critical thinking given the landscape and history.  And naturally, it being just very different than most cities I have encountered, it's a wonderful place to explore yourself and what's around you.
What do you fear most for Detroit?
I fear at times that we have an uncoordinated vision for what we want this city to be.  And that sends us down all kinds of wrong paths.  We're the biggest rally city in America though; give us a goal and we'll get there.

What do you hope for Detroit in the next 20 years?
Solid, consistent leadership.  A good leader listens to the people, synthesizes solutions based on those needs, and then convinces both sides that it's the right path given their expressed needs.  I hope we have that kind of leader every year from now until 2034.

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