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Stephen Lighthill Film Collection

 Collection
Identifier: UAV001622

Scope and Content

This collection includes the raw sound and film footage used to create the documentary Taking Back Detroit as well as intermediate materials in the film making process. The sound and film footage records Detroit in 1979, including the crumbling industrial, business, and residential infrastructure. As well as the matters noted above, the sound and film footage also records Detroit city council meetings, community meetings, D.A.R.E. meetings, petition drives, and D.A.R.E.’s “City Life in the ‘80s” conference.
Series I: Sound Recordings and Videocassette, 1979-1980 Sound recordings on 1/4 inch mono reel-to-reel tape for the documentary “Taking Back Detroit,” including both sound recorded while synchronized with the film footage being shot and also “wild sound,” sound recordings made while the cameras were not rolling. The first box also contains a VHS videocassette of the finished, 58 minute documentary as broadcast on public television.
Series II: 16mm Film Negatives and Interpositives, 1979-1980 16mm film negatives for the documentary “Taking Back Detroit,” stored in lengths of no more than 400’ contained in metal film canisters.
Series II: 16mm Film Negatives and Interpositives, 1979-1980 16mm film negatives for the documentary “Taking Back Detroit,” stored in lengths of no more than 400’ contained in metal film canisters.

Dates

  • 1979 - 1980

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.

History

Stephen Lighthill has been involved in a large number of film productions, including social documentaries, feature films, and television. He has worked as a camera operator, cinematographer, and director. He is currently (August 2010) a Senior Filmmaker-in-Residence at the American Film Institute Conservatory. In 1979, he produced and directed a documentary film in Detroit called Taking Back Detroit. The film features a movement that took an alternative approach to addressing Detroit’s long-term economic difficulties. The primary subjects are Kenneth V. Cockrel, Justin C. “Chuck” Ravitz, Sheila Murphy (Cockrel), and the Detroit Alliance for a Rational Economy (D.A.R.E.). Mr. Cockrel an attorney and socialist, was elected to the Detroit city council in 1977. Mr. Ravitz, also a socialist, was a criminal defense attorney from 1966 to 1973, and participated in several of Detroit’s most celebrated trials of the time. He was elected as a judge on the Detroit Recorder’s Court in 1973, where he served until 1986 and where he presided over several major cases. He then went back into private practice in civil litigation and ultimately mediation services. Mr. Ravitz passed away in 2007. Sheila Murphy (Cockrel), a labor, educational and community activist was campaign manager for both Ravitz & Cockrel.

The film highlights the problems facing Detroit and gives a short overview of some of the events that created those problems. Mr. Cockrel, Mr. Ravitz, Ms. Murphy and D.A.R.E. members are shown at work in their offices, in the city council chamber, in the courtroom, and on the streets of Detroit. They are depicted promoting their program and developing strategies in their efforts to persuade the City of Detroit to emphasize providing services to residents and maintaining and developing neighborhoods over tax abatements and federal grants to large corporations for blockbuster developments. Included are interviews with Mr. Cockrel, Mr. Ravitz, and Ms. Murphy as well as with several individuals discussing Detroit’s problems and Mr. Ravitz.

Extent

24 Linear Feet (21 SB, 3 OS)

Abstract

Stephen Lighthill has been involved in a large number of film productions, including social documentaries, feature films, and television. He has worked as a camera operator, cinematographer, and director. In 1979, he produced and directed a documentary film in Detroit called "Taking Back Detroit." The film features a movement that took an alternative approach to addressing Detroit’s long-term economic difficulties. The primary subjects are Kenneth V. Cockrel, Justin C. “Chuck” Ravitz, Sheila Murphy (Cockrel), and the Detroit Alliance for a Rational Economy (D.A.R.E.).

Lighthill's collection includes raw sound and film footage for "Taking Back Detroit," as well as intermediate materials from the film making process. Box 24 contains three final prints of the complete film. The film highlights the problems facing Detroit in 1979 and gives a short overview of some of the events that created those problems. It details the crumbling industrial, business, and residential infrastructure as well as documents Detroit city council meetings, community meetings, D.A.R.E. meetings, petition drives, and D.A.R.E.’s “City Life in the ‘80s” conference.

Arrangement

Arranged in 3 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-3), Series 2 (Boxes 4-7) and Series 3 (Boxes 8-21).

Series I is first divided by the length of the reel to reel sound tapes with 1200’ tapes separate from 600’ tapes for ease of storage. Each film size is further arranged by the number assigned to each roll of tape by the film crew, with unnumbered tapes included at the end in chronological order. Series II is arranged numerically by film roll number, followed by unnumbered film rolls in alphabetical order, and finally unnumbered and unlabelled film rolls by canister number. Series III is in the original order as received from the donor.

Acquisition

The film and sound recordings for the film project Taking Back Detroit were placed in the Walter P. Reuther Library in May 1995 by Stephen Lighthill as part of the Damon J. Keith Law Collection of African American Legal History and were opened for research in September 2010.

Related Materials

Reuther Library Collections: The Kenneth V. and Sheila M. Cockrel Papers contain materials on D.A.R.E. (Detroit Alliance for a Rational Economy) and on Ken Cockrel’s early history and his Detroit City Council campaign, election, and term in office. The Dan Georgakas Papers contain materials on Ken Cockrel, Justin Ravitz’s judgeship campaign, and D.A.R.E. The Detroit Revolutionary Movements Records contain material on Ken Cockrel and Sheila Murphy (Cockrel).

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Byron S. Collier on September 1, 2010.
Title
Guide to the Stephen Lighthill Film Collection
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Byron S. Collier.
Date
2010-09-01
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA