Honestly, this is really what made the company what it is today. When After the Factory was done, our focus naturally drifted to video exclusively. Prior to that, well, we we were doing a lot of stuff.
The story of the film is a simple one: Philip got an email from a guy in Lodz. This guy saw “The Farmer and the Philosopher”—another early film we did—and couldn’t believe the similarities between Lodz and Detroit. He outlined many of them in his original note—see, Lodz was an industrial manufacturer of textiles and the industry collapsed when the Soviet Union was dismantled. In the wake of all that, many of the same conditions existed that we see here in Detroit: the unemployment, emptied out factory shells and populations that were fleeing to the suburbs.
Excited, Philip immediately got a plane ticket with hopes to make another short film ala The Farmer and the Philosopher. His first call was to childhood friend Steven Oliver to see if he would be interested in joining. Somehow, he agreed. At the time, Steven was in LA writing for three television shows, directing his first feature narrative film and editing a documentary he directed in Africa.
With a little momentum, we launched a Kickstarter campaign that was funded. Michal, the guy that wrote Philip that first note on Facebook became the film’s producer in Poland. The Kickstarter was funded, we got some financial support from friends and we the US-based crew was on an airplane to begin filming.
Two months filming in Poland and another two in Detroit and we hopped right in to editing it over the course of two months. The film premiered at The Detroit Film Theater inside the Detroit Institute of Art to a sold out crowd of 1,200. We toured with the film screening in theaters across Europe and the US. Film festivals picked it up, we even won a few documentary prizes, and MIT even had it as part of their urban planning curriculum at one point. We landed a distribution deal with FilmBuff and the train keeps rolling.
We still do screenings from time to time, and the film plays at festivals around the world constantly—we’re up to 29 countries so far. You can see the film on Amazon Instant Stream.
So yeah, this is where it all began.