Living for Sundance

On the set of "The Passenger" at Hastings Street Ballroom
(Part One)

Sarah Bristol


This past weekend saw Detroit's Hastings Street Ballroom transformed into the set of "The Passenger," a feature length film written and directed by Jamie Sonderman. The Passenger is a story about how even the smallest choices can change everything. It explores the possible outcomes of seemingly insignificant interactions. The story follows John, played by Edward Zeimis, who finds himself at a crossroads between being deeper embedded into his life as a suburban corporate slave or choosing another path to discover the enticements of the Detroit underground art scene.

Shot entirely in Detroit, the movie carries with it the team's optimism for the city. According to Sonderman, "For us it was partly about Detroit. We wanted to say something about the city. We wanted to create at place where Detroit was the coolest city in the world, as if it was a done deal." This is accomplished by portraying the city as a character that stands in opposition to the safety and complacency of the affluent suburbs.

The desire to create a positive image of Detroit is a driving force for the film's production team, Thought Collide. Art is a form of communication and the group hopes to utilize the mass medium of film to increase the visibility of art and music in Detroit. The artistic integrity of the cast and crew extends beyond a simple visual unearthing of the Detroit's underground. The group aspires towards national recognition at next years Sundance Film Festival. Executive producer, Ed Gardiner, explained, "We created a context for the film called Living for Sundance. The idea is: if we all knew we had a year to live and this film was to be our legacy, how would we wake up every morning? Our hope is that context of Living for Sundance will truly shape the film."

In talking with cast and crew it is apparent that the true sentiment of the group is actually "Living for Detroit". The conversations on the set are an inspiring enthusiasm for the film, tempered with a love of Detroit. On the set, conversations about scene framing and lighting collide easily with discussions of music, art, and the city. It is clear that on the set of The Passenger, everyone has embraced the vision of Detroit as the greatest city in the world.

(Look for further updates on the progress of this film in these pages.)

Information about Thought Collide and The Passenger can be found at their site

For Jamie Sonderman's responses to's famous Four Questions, click here.


© 2002