filmmaker (3)

One Day in Detroit

Profile Spotlight: Orlando Ford

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.

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One Day in Detroit

Profile Spotlight: Brian Kaufman

Who are you and what is your profession?
My name is Brian Kaufman and I'm a videojournalist with the Detroit Free Press.

Who or what do you most admire?
I was born and raised in the small mountain town of Idyllwild in Southern California and through my proximity to nature fell in love with the outdoors. I took up photography and filmmaking as a means to pursue a fulfilling career. I am interested in non-fiction storytelling exclusively and aim to shed light on social/historical/environmental issues. No one person or event inspired me to become a filmmaker. I was drawn to storytelling from a young age and video production seemed like the most logical path to reach a broad audience. I admire most those people who pursue life honestly and humbly, using their abilities to improve themselves and the world around them. As it turns out, people of such character often make good subjects, and I've been honored to meet so many through filmmaking and give voice to their stories. 

What do you hope for Detroit in the next 20 years?
Much of Detroit now sits empty. The emptiness creates a host of problems, but it may also provide solutions for Detroit's ultimate revival. My hope for Detroit is that it can become a model of sustainability for industrial-legacy cities, integrating neighborhoods, local food production, clean industry and a web of public green space that would encourage the return of wildlife within the city and promote bicycle transportation.

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One Day in Detroit

Profile Spotlight: Geoff George

New Michigan Media - A Fresh Voice from One of Us Films on Vimeo.

1. Who are you and what is your profession?
My name is Geoff George and I am a cinematographer and filmmaker based in Detroit, Michigan.

2. Can you tell us a little about your background and upbringing?
I was born in Detroit and raised in the metro area.  My family owned a small dairy in Eastern Market and I was always fascinated by Detroit.  Throughout high school I made an effort to explore and discover the city and became completely absorbed by the environment and people here.  After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in film, I saw great opportunities here and made the move to the city.

3. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Two things inspired me to be a filmmaker -- my father, who taught me photography at a very early age -- and the many films I watched as a kid.  When I saw The Shining as a teenager, I knew that filmmaking was the only thing I wanted to do.

4. Who or what do you most admire?
I admire the many great artists and people who have made a mark here in the city of Detroit over the years.  They provide the inspiration for me to continue a great tradition of visual artists from Detroit.

5. What do you love about Detroit?
Absolutely, the people of Detroit are what I love most about this city.  The soul of the city is in its people, young and old.  I never visit a city where people are as engaging and genuine as they are in Detroit.  It is what keeps me here despite the all the frustrations and problems this city seems to experience.  Our people remain strong through all the hardships, and it inspires me to do the same in my work.

6. What do you fear most for Detroit?
I truly fear that our revitalization will happen at the expense of those who have been here for the many years and decades before big businesses and "urban pioneers" ever took an interest in this city.  I look at examples of removing senior citizens from Capitol Park and Cass Park in favor of high rents and stadiums as a sign that our city is not immune from the issues surrounding gentrification.  It is really too bad, because Detroit has room for everyone, and we do not have to displace people to remake this city -- there are thousands of vacant lots and empty buildings here that are being ignored.  What kind of example will we set if we brazenly remove and marginalize lower-income peoples for the sake of a false renaissance?  Detroit's authenticity lies in the fact that we are not a town of overpriced lofts and bland skyscrapers.  Again, the people here are our greatest asset, and we should not be removing or displacing them after so many decades of doing exactly that for freeways and housing projects.

7. What do you hope for Detroit in the next 20 years?
Detroit is already a great city, but I hope that over the next 20 years, we are able to mend our broken education system and improve our safety.  These are two basic things that must be improved upon before our city is able to fully remake itself.  I also hope that we are wise about how we redevelop Detroit.  Our remaining architecture is world-class, and we should continue that tradition and not replace magnificent buildings with suburban-style cookie-cutter developments.  We should mend the planning mistakes of our past by implementing proper public transportation and moving away from an auto-centric culture.

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