My Trip to Detroit

My Trip to Detroit

My Trip to Detroit

In order to get this documentary project moving, someone had to take the initiative to get things off the ground.  We had made some progress, but it was mainly just conceptual.  We had written a lot of things down, done some budget drafts, brainstormed, emailed some potential consultants, but there hadn’t yet been a big move to create waves.  That’s when I made the decision to book my trip to my hometown, Detroit.

As busy as we are producing client projects at Zerosun, it rarely gives me the time to produce outside the box, to pursue those passion projects that are so important to your well being, your mind and your sanity.  They keep you sane in the sense that those projects aren’t being done for someone else, they are being done for you.  But, in order to keep cash-flow continual, keep payroll cycling, keep the AC on, keep the cars gassed up – the company has to always be working on client based content.


That’s where The Symphony Project comes in.  This is our first BIG passion project.  The beauty of this documentary is the connections we have and the ones that we have begun to make.  For me, it was my Uncle Hart.  Hart Hollman is a Violist in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.  He’s been playing with them ever since winning his audition back in 1973.  I always of course knew that Hart was in the symphony, but growing up, I never really talked to him about it.  Being out of touch with him for the last 5 years or so, it was a splendid experience connecting with him again.  He’s been so enthusiastic about The Symphony Project.  If all other musicians across America, and internationally, are as interested and as excited as him, then things will undoubtably take off.

My trip to Detroit was booked fast.  I had only a few days to get the necessary footage we needed to get the trailer off the ground and running.  To add to the pressure, this entire field production would be a one man operation – I was taking care of camera, audio, lighting and setup all by myself.  On top of my schedule with Hart, I would also be driving a rental car to Grand Rapids to get an interview with Kristin’s second cousin, Shannon Wood.  Shannon was the principal Tympanist in the Grand Rapids Orchestra.  I say was because he has now landed a job with a larger outfit, the St. Louis Orchestra.

The majority of my time was spent with Hart.   All the interviews were done in his studio/office in Birmingham, MI.  The walls are laced with photographs of all the conductors he has worked with (sneaking shots WHILE PLAYING with a digital camera, using a a sleight of hand technique he has perfected), a grand piano, statues of famous composers, framed photographs that he’s taken throughout the world and a set of chairs where he teaches the viola to his fifteen or so students. It’s a remarkably intellectual room.  Especially for the interview I had with him, it really put me in the mindset.

Harts office

The next day I attended a “POPS” concert at Orchestral Hall in Detroit.  Pops concerts blend different styles of musics with a classical orchestral setup, for example, that day it was a New Orleans Jazz style concert.  Not usually something I would go see, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I was in the private balcony right next to the stage, best seat in the house.

_DSC2559_708a int

Orchestra Hall was the highlight though…what an incredible building.  Hart gave me the back story behind it.  At over a hundred years old, at one point in the 1970’s it was almost torn down.  But musicians and private donors banded together and raised the money to refurbish the hall.  Luckily, they found the family that had created all the original castings for the architectural detail and structure, and were able to restore all the moldings.  But what an incredible place.  Hart also informed me it could be top 5 of the best places in the entire world for sound acoustics and live performances.

Orchestra Hall Detail

My trip to Detroit was a success!  I reconnected with my Uncle Hart, experienced a DSO performance, conducted some very informational and intimate interviews for the trailer and sparked the documentary process.  The next week, Phil and Kristin traveled to Boston to get the remainder of the interviews, and if it wasn’t for the success and opportunity in Detroit, we aren’t sure that would have happened.  Things are starting to really come together.  Be sure to check out the trailer if you haven’t already.

PS  Extended thank you’s to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for their involvement and support.

- James

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