Detroit: No Fate
directed by Daniel Land
'No Fate' was a commissioned piece I directed for the Introduction to the 2008 'D Show' Awards (formerly the Telly Awards) for Detroit's advertising industry. There was already a poster for the event featuring the organizations' version of the old-english D embedded into the assembly line on the South Wall panel of Diego Rivera's Industry Murals. I was given full creative freedom, and my idea was an attempt to adapt this concept with enough depth to overcome the obvious pitfalls of cliché.
I saw an opportunity to say something about my city to a room full of people who ought to hear it.
There were to be three screens on the stage where it would play, so the piece was designed as a kind of video triptych. The journey begins with the light from our sun, then leads to a circle being drawn in the native dirt of the region. The round motif unveils the cycles of a Mayan sunstone, which gives way to hand tools. This early technology makes possible the collection and stockpiling of resources, which evolves forward from there. Raw minerals are gathered via manual labor and heated with considerable expertise into molten liquid metals. The symbolic spirit of the city, this 'D', is poured and forged by hard work and know-how. While industry booms and
grows in complexity around them, the diverse team works towards common purpose. Together, they lift the D and send it up into the heavens to meet the sun that started the cycle.
I drafted up storyboards and arranged to shoot the pouring of bronze and aluminum at the CCS foundry, as well as the various grinders, torches, and mechanical tools that would fill the narrative. Having worked with all of these during my time attending the school, I arrived with a sense of rhythm in mind. I enlisted local actors to
'work the line' on a greenscreen setup in the metal shop. Just days before everything was due, I had the music I wanted (contributed by local producer DL Jones), and I made the percussive hammer strikes myself, but it needed something vocal and I couldn't find anything that felt right. As the project came together, I could
look out my window and see the jail that held our disgraced mayor, which felt more like the kind of thing you'd read in a Batman comic than reality. It was one of the many times where the national media was falling all over themselves to make the worst Detroit joke. Right before my deadline Ken Cockrell, Jr. was sworn in as interim mayor, and some of his remarks encapsulated so much of what I was getting at visually that I knew I'd found my audio.
“There is no fate but what we make for ourselves. What that means for us, as a people and as a community is that the city of Detroit's fate is in our hands. It can either fall into the abyss or rise to the heavens. That choice is up to us.”
Then the girls sing 'Ain't nobody's business how we carry on...'