Updated: Dec 7, 2019
By Shayler Richmond
“Showing Up Showing Out: a film about the past, present and future of Motown,” presented through the collaboration of Carhartt WIP, Dazed and NTS Radio; produced in conjunction with Prettybird; created by Margot Bowman and Imani Mixon.
“Films are a great way of sharing worlds. I get to be very active with how things come to life, as a director it is my job to bring the magic out,” said Bowman.
This short film is an intimate documentary that highlights, benchmarks and explores the culture of art in Detroit; it effortlessly interweaves the history of Motown Records, with the growing culture of Detroit art and artists today.
Rich Mag spoke with Bowman and Mixon about their separate creative journeys and how their distinct styles united to form this beautiful film. Bowman has international roots beginning in London, now residing in New York, and Mixon is a Detroiter born and raised.
“The same way you need the ability to look inside yourself for inspiration is how you should be able to look inside whatever home you have for inspiration,” said Mixon.
Inspiration alone doesn’t bring projects to life. This film came to fruition through independent creatives partnering with bigger brands. Bowman and Mixon shared the value of knowing why you create and leveraging your creative capital to form mutually beneficial relationships that will support you in telling stories that resonate with people.
The creators describe this film as their love letter to the attitude, style and sound of Detroit.
“I wasn’t expecting; how cool the character of Detroit is; how faithful people are to the community; how precious it is and how much care goes into maintaining. I think that is one of the film’s most powerful messages,” said Bowman.
This film is part of a three part docuseries, highlighting culture from different sides; "Soul Skate 2018" a film exploring Detroit's bi-annual roller-disco; "One Day Go Be One Day" an in-depth look at Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti; and this film, which is intended to celebrate Motown Records' 60th anniversary, and does, but Mixon and Bowman took this as an opportunity to also push the culture forward.
“If the whole thing was, Motown Records is beautiful then that would be deeply accepted, but to call Detroit beautiful and portray it as such is something that we don’t necessarily get. I believe they are both true but I don’t always want to look at 1960’s Detroit, I want to see 2019 Detroit and I want to imagine 2053 Detroit. I want to see all phases of it,” said Mixon.
Mixon places emphasis on enjoying any space that we have in the now, while imagining what it could be and how it can be better. For her, this film is Detroit AF, take it or leave it. Not to be mistaken as a campaign, or ploy to coerce people on board, but it is an opportunity to see what she, and so many others see; it’s an invitation to admire the beauty for what it is.
“My work is about telling human truths that we can all see ourselves in,” said Bowman.
In this film these two women accurately and intentionally highlight gems of Motown, not only Berry Gordy, but the mothers of the Motown lifestyle Esther Gordy and Maxine Powell, then bring the story full circle highlighting present day artist who are continuing to champion the new age Motown flavor, such as, Supercoolwicked, Tunde Claniran, Ahya Simone, and Motown recording artist, Icewear Vezzo.
“You struggle for so long, and then at a certain point you don’t care anymore, so you just drop all your shields, you drop all of your preconceived notions, and you just do it,” said SuperCoolWicked (artist).
“Then you’re like oh this bangs, okay, then you give yourself the freedom to actually like what you’re doing, then you you’re like this doesn’t always have to be work, there’s a reason I decided to do this, because I love it,” she continued.
This film also features original Motown artist, Martha Reeves (singer).
“It feels so big to represent a city like Detroit and have an entire city behind me. It counts, when I say I’m from this place,” said Icewear Vezzo, the first gangster street rapper to sign with Motown Records.
Motown Records began in 1959 and is still being celebrated today; it always will be celebrated; Motown laid the foundation; longevity and transcension are tells of great art and authentic culture. Music and art continues to shape the culture of Detroit as much as the community of Detroit continues to mold artists who call it home and expands beyond to influence others.
“Culture is tied to place, but good art can connect us all,” said Bowman.