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Mindfield -


Sean Emery


1250 Library Street
Detroit, Michigan 48226


By Tunde Wey
April 24, 2013

The easy-going atmosphere at the Mindfield offices – replete with a lumbering, excited dog, a hulking arcade machine, and a bar flanked by a well-stocked, glass-doored refrigerator containing a variety of bottled beers and at least a couple bottles of Veuve Clicquot Champagne – is entirely the product of its founders.
Sean Emery, along with brothers David and Tom Carleton, founded Mindfield in a small room in a downtown loft.  In 2000, when they formed the company, all three were freelancers in the local film industry. They had met each other working on different projects and they struck up a friendship that would eventually lead to a business.

From the beginning Mindfield has been a unique animal in the film industry: they are a full-service firm providing creative services, filming and production, and post-production work including motion graphics, 3-D animation and interactive design and development.

Mindfield’s experiential work alone reaches about 800,000 people at major national and international auto shows. From the small team of three guys in a loft, they have grown to a staff of 15 and a roster of clients that include the Red Wings, the Big Three, and advertising firms such as DONER, Team Detroit and George P Johnson.
So what now? What do you do when things are good?
You do more.
In 2006, the city offered the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Building up for sale. Standing a stately five stories with 20,700 square feet of space, the G.A.R. Building – which resembles an ancient castle sitting on an oddly situated triangle lot – was built in 1897. The long-vacant building was purchased by Mindfield for $220,500 after five years of negotiation with the city. While it might seem odd that a traditional media company might venture into the real estate business, it is a likely next step for Mindfield, which has been anything but traditional in its perspective and business.
Emery describes their involvement with the G.A.R. Building as being borne from opportunity and commitment to Detroit. "We are involved in real estate because of the opportunities. It was an opportunity we saw and felt, and have heard from hundreds of people since we bought it that so many people had driven by it and said, 'Why doesn’t someone buy this building?'"
The building where Mindfield currently has its offices is owned by the Carleton Brothers, who, along with Emery, have literally been invested, both emotionally and financially, in the city for over two decades. Emery says, "We have been at the Library Lofts since we started the company and even before that we have been passionate about downtown Detroit."
Tom Carleton continues, "We bought this building thinking that this city will ultimately be on this path. We’re at a great crossroads with Mindfield and the G.A.R., especially with the growth and interest in downtown; the possibilities are wide open. Mindfield has a great opportunity to grow and the G.A.R. can also be a great neighborhood anchor."
With a solid and long term commitment to the neighborhood, the three partners are planning on moving the Mindfield offices to the G.A.R., occupying the top two floors. The next two floors would be leased to businesses and the ground level would be partitioned into two restaurants. They plan on opening the building sometime next year.
The Mindfield troika’s plans for the G.A.R. building are ambitious yet focused. Their approach to the project, similar to how they launched Mindfield, is entrepreneurial and community serving; they are self-financing most of the project as well as documenting the entire process.
For Mindfield, Detroit represents perhaps the best of the American promise, that hard work and talent will win out over pessimism.

Capturing this sentiment, Emery says, "I can’t tell you how many times we've run into people who say 'Why would you commit to Detroit?' From day one, we’ve always looked at Detroit as a place with immense possibility; we can make anything happen here so why wouldn't we keep convincing people that this is the land of opportunity? We are getting people to realize there is so much good, so much energy and activity here. It’s a phenomenal place to be."

Photograph by Marvin Shaouni Photography.

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