Tragic beauty

From Robocop to Transformers, Detroit has always served well as an apocalyptic post-industrial backlight for filmmakers the world over. So it was no big surprise when the Toronto-based emo band Moneen hit Detroit in early August, along with Canadian filmmakers Michael Maxxis and Christopher Walters, to shoot a gritty vid for the band's new song "Hold That Sound."

Maxxis and Walters have built an impressive résumé in just a couple of years, doing edgy videos for Ours, P.O.D. and Cradle of Filth, among others. And when they came through Detroit to work on a project with Marilyn Manson a few years ago, they fell in love with the town's obvious visual possibilities. 

Like any good urban spelunkers, Maxxis and his film crew — who were in town for two days — shot the video on the fly, guerrilla style. Anybody who photographs inside abandoned buildings in Detroit will tell you that on one day, a great building will be wide-open only to return the next to find it boarded up under a watchful eye. So a good part of the crew's shoot involved a motorcade of vans driving around Detroit and discovering a possible location impossible to enter.

The second day of shooting began at the butt-crack of dawn in Lee Plaza on Grand Boulevard, followed by a quick stop for a band and crew refueling at Corktown's Mudgie's. Next, Maxxis stopped to shoot Moneen in what sadly has become an iconic image of Detroit in the midst of this year's auto crisis — the run-down industrial buildings by St. Aubin, just east of the "Renaissance" Center.

Then, as the crew hunted locations from southwest Detroit to the east side, Maxxis finally settled on the former railroad tracks under the Alfred Street Bridge on the edge of Eastern Market. Nestled in an overgrown area between a couple of abandoned factories (along with lots of great graffiti and one homeless person's quickly thrown-together shelter), the shoot wrapped up.

Moneen will support Eisley on Sunday, Oct. 25, at Clutch Cargo's, 65 E. Huron St, Pontiac; 248-333-2362. Dig Moneen's Detroit-made video for "Hold That Sound" at

Doug Coombe shoots only with his eyes. Send comments to [email protected]
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