Move Here. Move the World

It was Monday and Stephen McGee had one pressing thing on his mind: How would he finish Detroit's splashy video in time for Thursday's pitch to Amazon? 

"We hadn't done any of the aerials yet," the video's producer and director told me Friday, the day after the 3-minute, 35-second video was released. As of 6 p.m. Friday, it had garnered more than 52,000 views on YouTube

About 70 percent of the video's work — ranging from filming and editing to receiving Curt Morgan's and Cyrus Reynold's score and recording Jessica Care Moore's compelling voiceover poem/homage to the city — had yet to be done. 

Not for lack of effort but instead good lighting, McGee said. 

"The video launched at 10 a.m. Thursday and we had worked until 5 a.m. Thursday. The entire almost week and a half before this Monday was cloudy, and I had a ton of outdoor visuals I needed to film. We didn't have music. We didn't have voiceover. Up until Monday, I researched and connected to people that I respect across the state (for footage)."



Three hours after it was finished, the father of two was up again. 

"How many hours are in two weeks," McGee, who also directed the popular "Anthem of Us" video featuring Detroit rapper Big Sean, tiredly replied when I asked him how many hours he had put into the video.


It was in that timeframe that McGee said he was tapped by the Detroit Amazon bid committee to produce what became "Move the World." He said Dan Gilbert and the 60-person Detroit bid committee gave him "100 percent" creative freedom for the video, which required renting a helicopter and expensive camera lenses, culling video content from photographers and videographers around the state and splicing everything together into the final product. 

(Note: Gilbert on Friday clapped back on Twitter at a Metro Times article suggesting that a dramatic sunrise shot from the helicopter showing wind turbines in the distance was digitally altered. McGee told me that a high-powered lens was able to capture the turbines across the Detroit River in Windsor and that the 13-second shot was not modified.)

Care Moore, in a Friday interview, said the first draft of the poem took only about an hour to write, but through editing and revision, ended up being about a day or two of work. It was recorded Monday in about two hours. 

She said the outpouring of compliments has been overwhelming, and she was happy McGee, with whom she has been friends for years, chose her — a black woman — to participate. She will be paid, although said she doesn't know how much yet. 

Approximately 25 percent of the video is content provided by others including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, plus other photographers from around the state. Another 25 percent of it is material from McGee's archives, while the remaining 50 percent was shot over the course of three days by McGee and Nadir Ali. 

McGee said Gilbert, the billionaire founder and chairman of Detroit-based Quicken Loans Inc. and Rock Ventures LLC who headed up the Amazon HQ2 committee, saw a rough cut around 5 p.m. Wednesday. 

Twelve hours later, it was done. 

McGee expects the "Move the World" narrative to become the focus of a broader campaign. 

"So much energy is put toward filming beautiful cities like New York and Los Angeles, and in order for us to move forward visually and our visually narrative to the world, we need to start seeing ourselves in the most beautiful light possible," McGee said. 

"No other city has to come into the conversation saying sorry about our past. I'm not saying wash over them; I'm saying approach them, figure it out and film our city beautifully."

Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 8.20.54 PM.png