Category Archive: Client Work

Honoring the Man Who’s Won Everything


Jack Nicklaus just got done playing in the Turning Point Invitational here in Detroit — a tournament that ended up raising over $3.2 million dollars for education in the city.

The kids at Cornerstone Schools wanted a way to honor him.

So we produced the modern equivalent of a school play based on the great man’s life.

We had fun with it.


The kids researched his life and the arc of movie trailers. We helped them set up a green screen in the school and spent the afternoon playing with wigs and hitting invisible golf balls.

Then we recruited a stellar video arts student from CCS who was looking to get more experience in green screen animation.

It was a major win for everyone.

…and, I’ve gotta say- before this, I had no idea Jack Nicklaus did so much for charity. And in Detroit, no less. A city he is neither from nor frequently visits. Pretty incredible.

Take note, Hollywood. This man’s earned a big budget release. Let’s talk.


Play the video here:

A former Stock Exchange? Our new office? Yes.

Stock Exchange

Well, the cat’s officially out of the bag: construction is underway on our new office and studio inside what was once the Detroit Stock Exchange. Who knew Detroit even had it’s own stock exchange? We certainly didn’t. Turns out it was open from 1928-76 at the top of tower 2 ub the Penobscot Building.

It all started one afternoon when we were touring the Penobscot Building looking for a new office after the fiasco that came to unravel after a pipe burst in our former space at the David Stott Building (reported on here by the Wall Street Journal). The leasing agent representing the Penobscot Building toured us around the building, viewing mostly sleepy, drop-ceiling laden, cubicle farm’esque spaces that weren’t so inspiring let alone inviting. We casually inquired about seeing something a bit more raw, an older space, if only just to feed our history-loving habits and to get a glimpse in to the older days of the building, and we landed at the top of Tower 2. As we stepped off the elevator, what sat in plain view was an absolutely stunning room: the former Detroit Stock Exchange. The catwalk was still intact that a young man would manually update prices on the stock ticker. The 30 foot ceilings were ornately sculpted and offered a window in to the city’s storied past. It was almost hard to believe.

A few passionate pow-wows between our team and sibling studio Space Camp Design and our desire to land a deal for the space was solidified. Five months of negotiations working out the lease, and the rest is history. We’re proud of where we’ve landed, and feel that the space will be a part of our next phase of growth as we focus on working with national brands while staying true to the adventures and city that has gotten us here.

For more information on the history of the space and to take a 3D tour, click here.

A Three Year Retrospective: Urban Innovation Exchange

For the last three years we’ve interviewed and talked to thirty different individuals and organizations re-tooling and evolving the idea of social innovation for the Urban Innovation Exchange. The effort, underwritten by the Knight Foundation and supported by a host of Detroit-based foundations and organizations along with ourselves, cumulatively looks at hundreds of efforts across the city and their affect on the trajectory of Detroit. What does the value of a community garden have on a neighborhood? What about the guy with a “gang” of friends that mow vacant parks in Detroit? And we’ve all heard of Detroit SOUP, what’s the cumulative impact of the money they’ve injected in to community level projects? Muralists, incubators, community spaces, street artists, neighborhood philosophers, blight busters– what does it all amount to?

For our part, we created thirty different videos interviewing and examining the work of but a handful of the thoughtful and innovative projects in the city. The idea was to try and understand in greater detail what social innovation actually amounted to. Where it’s easy to value, say, a new hotel downtown, given that it generates a certain amount of tax base income which affects citizens, how do we value those that don’t create traditional capital? It’s still kind of a perplexing question that’s tricky to answer, but certainly enough, the cumulative effect of all these efforts create a recipe for thinking about how next-generation cities grow. The thirty videos we created along with the stories and portraits all across the UIX site provide a springboard for thinking differently about how we evolve as citizens and communities. We were very proud to be a part of this three year effort and have put together a retrospective film to understand a small piece of all the work to date.

See the video on Vimeo.

See the rest of the videos in the series here.

New Client Work: NEIdeas $10k Challenge

The NEIdeas small business challenge was built on the premise that a great idea can help a business grow. The NEIdeas $10k Challenge was thus born: existing businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park were asked to submit a statement on their idea and how it would impact their business. 600 ideas were submitted and evaluated by a panel and a selection of businesses were awarded $10,000 each to bring their idea to life. When we were asked to create some content to support the campaign, we were pretty excited, starting first with an introduction to the challenge itself. Next, and most recently, we finished a video looking at the first batch of winners for the $10k challenge. It’s been a pretty rewarding project to work on. We’ve met some hard-working and talented people while learning about businesses we never knew existed. See the first video here, and the second below:

NEIdeas – “Winners” from DETROIT LIVES! on Vimeo.

Nokia Lumia Icon Challenge: Make a Video With Our Smart Phone

We recently learned via Rippld of a project that Nokia was launching across the US in promotion of their newest smart phone release: the Lumia Icon. The phone is being marketed for its exceptionally good video properties along with four onboard microphones for recording audio. So, naturally, the premise of the contest was to make a video with the phone: submit in 600 characters or less an idea for a story you want to tell with a video shot exclusively on the smart phone, and then another 600 characters of why you should be chosen. We submitted our idea and ended up getting selected as one of the five finalists. Then this Pelican road case showed up on at our office:

photo (53)

Inside were three Nokia Lumia Icon smart phones, a tripod, a clip that would allow us to mount the phone on the tripod and some literature to read. We were kind of impressed.

Next thing you know, the script is written, locations are secured, we’ve got some folks lined up as talent and we’re ready to roll. Day one shooting looked something like this, kudos to anyone who can guess where in Detroit we are shooting:

photo (54)

From here, we continue shooting and submit the video back to Nokia by the end of the month. We’ll keep our idea a secret until the official release 🙂 But make sure to stay tuned to Twitter and Instagram as we’ll surely be posting some updates from time to time about the project.

5 Effortlessly Catchy Ads from 2014 Viral Video Awards

Practically every client wants their brand video to go viral. Well, here’s how you do it. Apparently. The winners from AdAge’s annual Viral Video Awards lend insight in to what the modern consumer is amused, intrigued and inspired by– from style to delivery. We’ve picked our five favorites of the fourteen in total. You’ll see why these are a fun representation of the power of video storytelling, something we love to do here at DL!:

Our very favorite, a fantastic story, and a deed worth noting that surely improved WestJet’s reputation in an industry that often isn’t so pretty with customer service.

Humor done well is just as effective as a tearjerker. Poo Pourri did just exactly that. Hearty laughs combined with explicit product information equals a job well done. Would you ever buy this stuff?

Disruptive advertising can also create some waves. Beer brand Newcastle did this by making fun of itself. And it was a smash hit (and cost much less than the Super Bowl ad buy):

Samsung, the world’s most viewed brand in video campaigns, tapped Jay Z and his new album release to expose a story of process that was just as much fun to discover as it was to experience:

Finally, our second-favorite, if only because it accentuates the real value of short and sweet, comes by way of Stuey from Family Guy and Google Chrome. It’s shocking to see what 16 seconds can do:

Puppies, Kids, Jennifer Lawrence Tripping… And Other Things That Get your Attention.

One of the subjects in the title of this article is the centerpiece for a new video we did for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. You should probably check it out here, and be a mitzvah hero in the process:

DL! Featured in Crain’s Detroit Business

A special thanks to writer Amy Haimerl of Crain’s Detroit for a nice writeup on DL!, the work we are doing and our brand new office inside the David Stott Building in downtown Detroit. In the article, she discusses the humble beginnings that got the ball rolling for us– the shirts, the street art, the films– all the way through to us growing in to being a full service creative studio focusing on film production.

Click this link or the image below to read the article in full.

“After the Factory” Now Playing on Amazon Instant Stream

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

After the Factory,” the documentary we worked on in 2012 looking at solutions for post-industrial cities told through Lodz and Detroit, has officially hit the “shelves” this afternoon on Amazon Instant Stream. The film is viewable there in all its infinite glory, along with the trailer and other relevant content.

Having worked on the film for a long time with a relatively meager budget, we are so proud of the trajectory it has all taken. Perhaps the best part, however, is that the project continues on. We were in Lodz last month continuing to chronicle and capture things as they continue unfold across the pond. We will do the same here. So, suffice to say, I think this is only the beginning of a fun ride with the film and the process of looking at what comes after the industrial era.

The film’s officiate site can be found here
Watch the film via Amazon Instant Stream here

“Story of Business” Three Part Series Totaling Over 300K Views

The three-part series we wrote, directed, shot and edited for DC-based non-profit Public Notice has amassed well over 300K views in total on YouTube. The series, which looks at the effect of Detroit’s bankruptcy on small business, takes a careful look at the past, present and future. Restauranteur Hector Sossi and his daughter Janet discuss their famous Roma Cafe and the history the place has as a staple in Detroit’s legacy. Percell Jordan, a barber on the East Side of Detroit, looks at the current state of affairs in the city discussing his 10-year old business. Austin Black, real estate broker and adviser looks at the future of the city through the lens of developments he is helping to enable on the ground. What they uncover in total may surprise you. See the three part series below:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3: