God Said Give 'Em Drum Machines - the Story of Detroit Techno(2019) Starring Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, Eddie Fowlkes, Blake Baxter, and Santonio Echols. Depicts Detroit’s 1980s unsung African American community that created Techno music and how the business of music betrayed them.
More about the Film
In the 70’s Detroit was struggling, but the club scene was thriving and everybody was dancing to disco music. Soon after, the innovative DJ culture set the stage for a group of friends to start tinkering with early electronic instruments. All of a sudden a new type of futuristic music was born taking the underground dance scene by storm.
DJ and producer, Juan Atkins, known as the Originator, was their leader and actually coined the term Techno. He was later joined by Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Blake Baxter, Eddie Fowlkes, and Santonio Echols. As collaborators, they released local hit after local hit and finally caught the attention of some eager Europeans.
In 1988, London based record label owner Neil Rushton came to Detroit searching for gold, found it, licensed it and sold it overseas, taking the group of friends and their burgeoning industry with him on an overseas quest for bigger and brighter things than Detroit could offer.
Techno became an overnight sensation and so did Juan, Kevin, and Derrick. But it didn’t happen for the rest. When the money entered the picture, friendships were broken leaving them fractured as a group with no collective bargaining power in the music business. With no knowledge of publishing and licensing, Blake, Eddie and Santonio, whose contributions went largely unrecognized and uncompensated, were left in a state of heartbreak and despair to this day.
By the late 1990s, dance music changed and so did Detroit. Techno had long been forgotten and secretly became a mere export with no new audiences being cultivated. Manufacturing jobs were sent to other countries, and unemployment and crime hit a new high. Hip Hop became the new sound, and the new underground culture provided illicit means for the youth with no direction in the city.
Today, Detroit is largely unrecognized for the creation of Techno which was the beginning for what is now known as the $7.1 billion dollar business of EDM. As of 2018, there are no African-Americans listed as top earning artists.
The founders eventually discover brotherhood and betrayal don’t always mix on the dance floor. Now over 30 years later, they fight to keep their legacy and music alive in a city that is only now giving them their due recognition.
We've been documenting the lives of the founding fathers of Techno music in the States and abroad for over the past 7 years. They are Detroit's best kept secret as they have been quietly exporting their products and services to audiences all over the world for the past 30 years. The stars of this film are considered gods overseas, but fail to get the same recognition here at home. They're the "hidden figures" of the $7.1 billion dollar industry of Electronic Dance Music, which is now led by the list of Forbes' cash kings like: Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and Deadmaus to name a few. Most people nowadays have no idea that Techno has Detroit origins or that black people have anything to do with this music.
It has been our personal mission to set the record straight by producing a documentary feature film to bring this important but overlooked part of black history to mainstream audiences. Until now, this has been an independent venture. But, now we need everyone's help.
We are raising $30K for finishing funds (graphics, sound mix, color, animation, etc) and music clearance. So, please donate now and help get God Said Give 'Em Drum Machines on a screen near you!
More about Jennifer Washington
Straight out of the controversial yet dynamic Motor City, Jennifer Washington was inspired as a child by her musical family. Today, Washington’s most pressing mission is to help uplift her hometown’s image in the media. As a film producer, she is exploring the expanse of Techno music and documenting its influence all over the world.
More about Kristian Hill
Motor City native Kristian Hill is celebrated and respected as one of Detroit’s most talented creative professionals. Excelling as a filmmaker, videographer and rising director with more than 20 years of experience in the business, Kristian has long cast his own distinct glow in the Film, Video & Entertainment industries.
Washington Hill Pictures
Started by two native Detroiters, Washington Hill Pictures produced “Electric Roots: The Detroit Sound Project” that chronicled their international Techno-induced travels to South Africa, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival Court Metrage Short Film Corner and the Pan African Film Festival. They also produced “Postcards: Mandela” a TV documentary that airs on the Africa Channel which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.
Risks and challenges
Clearing the music and raising funds has been the biggest hurdles of the project. However, we are starting to get support like never before. Service providers are now coming forward that are making it easier for us to finish in a timely manner. Engaging with audiences on all levels and making them a part of our journey is also part strategy for completion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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