BSO Interview: Detroit Teacher Marcus Davenport Documents Local Athlete’s Struggle in Film
Not often do you find teachers who are passionate about their work and give as much of themselves as Marcus Davenport has. Davenport is a teacher in the Detroit Public School system who also finds time to produce films on the positive aspects of Michigan life.
I had the chance to interview Davenport about the documentaries he’s done, including “Flint Star” and the one he is working on now, “Life in the League.” “Flint Star” is a documentary that chronicles the struggle for aspiring ballers to make it big in Flint, Michigan. “Life in the League” will do the same for aspiring football players from the same area.
Davenport once spent $40,000 of his own money to produce a documentary because he felt it was a story that needed to be told. He has been featured on many different media outlets and is looking to make an impact on not just the Michigan area, but every city in America.
Read the interview below:
What motivates you to continue towards your dream?
My major motivation is family. Last year I was blessed enough to donate a kidney to my mother and I thank God daily that the operation was a success and that she has a chance to live a happy and productive life. My father suffered a heart attack three years ago and he is getting stronger every day. So, I am constantly motivated to be able to provide a comfortable life for both of my parents.
In addition, I am a newlywed and I am extremely motivated by the desire to have kids and raise a family. I want to provide an awesome life for my wife and future kids. My wife Latresha keeps me motivated because she has stated that we will not have three children unless I can earn enough money to send all three of them to college.
With the rising cost of higher education, I am motivated to continue chasing success in every way possible. Lastly, I am motivated to improve the overall conditions for children living in urban environments. As a teacher in Detroit Public Schools, I am constantly motivated to provide positive inspiration for the kids that I teach on a daily basis. I gain motivation through the children that I work with who are overcoming incredible odds just to survive. With or without film, making a difference in the lives of others is a constant motivation.
When is your NFL documentary set to be released and what were your most difficult challenges faced when filming?
To be honest, I do not have a release date at this current time. My 1stdocumentary film took me three years to complete. I have to just keep shooting and doing interviews until I feel that I have something that is special and ready to be released to the public.
I am working with my cousin Damian Gregory who is a former NFL Defensive Lineman. He understands that I insist on financing, directing, and producing my next film so this process takes a great deal of time and money. There is nothing more important to me than being my own boss and calling my own shots as a filmmaker. Filmmaking is not my career, it is my passion. I am an employee in my career, so I refuse to be an employee in my passion.
My goal is to create an outstanding film that is better in quality and production than “Flint Star”, without losing the raw and gritty shooting style that has helped me gain recognition for my original film.
What are your plans for the future in regards to sports-related documentaries?
In the world of sports, I want to do a documentary about boxing and the impact that boxing has on the state of Michigan. Boxing is an awesome sport because it teaches discipline, toughness, self-respect, and delayed gratification. I am a boxing fan and I spent the majority of my childhood growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I saw the sacrifices that Floyd Mayweather Jr. made to become arguably one of the greatest boxers of all time. Michigan has produced great boxers like Joe Louis, Tommy Hearns, Chris Byrd, James Toney, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. just to name a few. The state has some major breeding grounds for boxing like Grand Rapids, Flint, and Detroit. I will use this film to examine the historical importance of the sport in the state of Michigan.
Outside of sports documentary films, I wrote a script for a comedy film formerly titled “Money in The Ghetto” now re-titled “Money in The City” with Anthony Barnes and Douglas Peeples. “Money in the City” is a realistic comedy that tackles many pressing inner-city issues. This film deals with Detroit’s notorious drug trade and the daily consequences of greed, money mismanagement, and moral destruction within the urban community. This film also deals with the desire for youth to live the American Dream while learning the importance of hard work and delayed gratification. In my opinion, “Money in the City” is the first film of its kind to deal with such important and relevant social issues while putting an unforgettable comedic spin on urban reality.
What do you think set athletes from Flint apart from other inner city youth growing up in poverty throughout the country?
Young people in Flint have a strong desire to escape the harsh conditions of their environments and provide a better life for their family. With the massive closures of automotive factories like General Motors in the city, sports have become a popular option for many young people to live the American Dream.
Do not get me wrong, athletics and entertainment are not the only options; however young people are attracted to the money, fame, and public attention associated with athletics and entertainment. Professional athletes in Flint do a very good job of being visible and approachable to youngsters in the community.
Young athletes in the city have an opportunity to be mentored by other professional athletes through camps and other community outreach programs. Flint is a very prideful place and the athletes from the city represent their city to the rest of the world. The city is a very tough place and people who have had a chance to make it in the professional world understand the importance of trying to inspire others to elevate beyond their circumstances.
Talk about a time that you were close to giving up pursuing your dream of being a world-renown filmmaker and what motivated you to keep on track with your goal.
In my opinion, I am far from being a world-renown filmmaker. Tyler Perry is world-renown. I am just a young filmmaker who refuses to quit. I never really thought about giving up because I financed by 1st film on credit cards and my entire savings. To be honest, I almost went broke trying to capture a dream while maintaining my responsibilities.
I spent $40,000.00 of my own money from my teacher’s salary to chase my dreams. It’s hard to think about giving up when I see kids daily who are growing up in unbelievable poverty and fighting everyday just to survive in this cold world. Compared to them, my struggle has been easy. I desire to produce thought provoking and meaningful films.
As a young man I was fascinated with the work of Spike Lee, Eddie Murphy, Robert Townsend, The Hughes Brothers, and John Singleton. I want to inspire young people and create change in our communities by leading by example. I am living proof that a solid education is a fundamental foundation for a better life. I am far from rich, famous, or critically acclaimed, but I am blessed daily with an opportunity to make a difference. My goal is to continue to promote education, self-respect, and discipline in the hopes of making an impact in the lives of young people through my career and through my passion.