Filmmaker Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman first became intrigued with the Detroit-based private security company and bodyguard training school Detroit Threat Management when he moved into a loft next to the organization's headquarters, a large chrome compound near Detroit's riverfront.
At the time, he was working as a video intern for the Metro Times and thought he might get some interesting clips from the group. He said said his first encounter with the organization was terrifying.
Guards took his driver's license at the door, ran a background check and then escorted him to a training room.
"This guy took me inside to a huge batcave on the river in Detroit with guns on the wall and digital displays and punching dolls in the middle of the room," said Hurwitz-Goodman. He was then handed a gun and instructed to point it at the man. When he finally complied, he was given a brief but intense lesson on how to disarm an assailant.
The encounter inspired a feature-length documentary that's now two years in the making.
This weekend, Hurwitz-Goodman will be offering the public a sneak peek of clips taken from his upcoming film, also titled "Detroit Threat Management." He edited day-long film sequences into 10 to 30-minute shorts to show at the Circa 1890 Saloon on Sunday.
Hurwitz-Goodman said he organized the event, which he calls "Focus Night," to share some of the more compelling footage that he knows will not make the film's final cut.
Even though he was initially a little disturbed by Detroit Threat Management, Hurwitz-Goodman eventually established a friendly relationship with the group and spent three weeks filming them last summer. He said his impression of their efforts has changed over time.
"They're trying to protect the city of Detroit from predators," he said, noting that in addition to paid security work, they provide free protection as community service to people unable to afford their services.
Although reluctant to give too much away, Hurwitz-Goodman said Sunday's event will feature a segment on the group's second-in-command, a refugee from Bosnia who goes by the code name "Mantis 111."
Hurwitz-Goodman is making "Detroit Threat Management" with the help of a $30,000 grant from the Claire Rosen & Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists awarded to him through the University of Chicago. He expects to complete the documentary by mid-to-late spring of this year.
The "Focus Night" event will also feature footage from a forthcoming video ethnography on traditional and experimental Indonesian music by Nick George, as well as ambient music from the three-piece band Horatio Clam. Hurwitz-Goodman hopes other local filmmakers will come forward to participate in the series, which he intends to sponsor every other Sunday.
The first "Focus Night" is scheduled for Sunday, March 11 at 7 p.m. at the Circa 1890 Saloon, 5474 Cass Ave. in Detroit. The event is free. For more information see focusnight.tumblr.com.