Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Synopsis: In 1959, Berry Gordy Jr. gathered the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on every hit from Motown's Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined - which makes them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music. They called themselves the Funk Brothers. Forty-one years after they played their first note on a Motown record and three decades since they were all together, the Funk Brothers reunited back in Detroit to play their music and tell their unforgettable story, with the help of archival footage, still photos, narration, interviews, re-creation scenes, 20 Motown master tracks, and twelve new live performances of Motown classics with the Brothers backing up contemporary performers.
Director(s): Paul Justman
Production: Artisan Entertainment
  8 wins & 14 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
108 min

Berry Gordy started Tamla Records- later

known as the Motown Record Corporation-

with an $800 loan from

a family co-operative in january 1959.

Berry Gordy relied on joe Hunter

to bring talent to Motown.

At the time of filming,

Joe was indeed still playing...

albeit in obscurity, in a Marriott

Hotel lobby in Troy, Michigan.

The music heard is The Funk Brothers'

stage theme song, "The Flick. "

They recorded several versions

in the fall of 1965.

The Hula Hoop was introduced

by Wham-O Manufacturing in 1958.

Rightfielder Al Kaline was the Detroit

Tigers premiere player in the '50s.

Singer Billie Holiday was known as "Lady

Day," a great favorite of Berry Gordy.

He would later produce a film on her

life starring Motown artist Diana Ross.

Before Motown, Berry Gordy was a

successful songwriter forjackie Wilson.

Gerald Levert performs

"Reach Out I'll Be There,"

originally a number one

hit for the Four Tops.

The Funk Brothers recorded the

original backing track on july 8, 1966.

An astounding track, "Reach Out"

illustrates james jamerson's...

fully developed 16th-note

syncopated bass style.

Jamerson took a standard, root-fifth,

cocktail approach to his bass part...

and ran it through

countless rhythmic variations.

Gerald Levert is the son of

Eddie Levert, lead singer of the O'jays.

He was born the year

"Reach Out" was a hit.

The song's percussion

hook was played by a Funk

Brother thumping the head of

a "bell-less" tambourine...

while its memorable

piccolo part is re-created

on stage by its

originator, Dayna Hartwick.

This sequence was filmed at

the Encore record store on

the University of Michigan

campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The people interviewed are

actual store customers, not actors.

Paul Riser was classically

trained. He is best known

as an arranger of hits like

"My Girl," among others.

Grammy winner Stevejordan

worked with Bootsy Collins in the film.

He got his break as the drummer

on Late Night with David Letterman.

Songwriter Edward Holland

began his career as

a singer, best known for

his 1962 hit, "jamie. "

Detroit native Don Was

covered the Temptations' "Papa

Was A Rollin' Stone" with

the group, Was (Not Was).

As a young musician, he gigged

with Funk Brother "Pistol" Allen.

In 1962, Martha Reeves was

discovered at the 20 Grand

nightclub by Motown's A&R

head, Mickey Stevenson.

She worked as his secretary

before signing as a singer.

Therefore, she was one of the few Motown

artists to interact with the musicians.

Motown producer Hank Cosby,

pretending to bejack Ashford...

stands between Robert White

(guitar) and james jamerson (bass).

Joan Osborne sings

"(Love Is Like A) Heatwave... "

originally a number four hit for Martha

& The Vandellas in the summer of 1963.

The Funk Brothers recorded its

original backing track with producers...

Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier

on june 20, 1963.

Joan Osborne released

How Sweet It Is, an

entire album of R&B classics, in 2002.

Tom Scott plays here; Mike Terry, who blew

many such classic sax breaks for Motown...

played on the original recording.

By '63, Motown's chief

technician Mike McLean

had installed a handmade,

three-track tape deck.

Now, lead vocals were

overdubbed, and the Funks would

record not knowing for whom

their tracks were intended.

For "Heatwave," the Vandellas

recorded vocals on the

same day as the Funks, but

at a session later in the day.

In 1955, Black Detroiters

had the highest per

capita income among African

Americans nationwide.

Yet at that time,

African Americans earned

about 33 cents to every

dollar earned by whites.

The Bel-Aire was

the most popular Chevy in the 1950s.

Joe Hunter worked a drill press

at Chevrolet outside Detroit...

after an Army stint with Earl Van

Dyke at the Lockburn base in Ohio.

Baker's, located at the intersection of

8 Mile Road and Livernois...

has been a Detroit jazz institution

for over 50 years.

Berry Gordy hung the sign

"Hitsville U.S.A." on his house...

at 2648 West Grand Boulevard

before Motown had any hits.

Motown used to store master tapes

in Smokey's basement...

until flooding forced Motown

to set up a tape library at Hitsville.

Jamerson was told to play the bass

because he had big hands.

Jamerson got his first

and only upright bass

for about $200 after

graduating from high school.

Jamerson switched to

electric Fender bass in 1961.

Jamerson jr. had a hit band

on his own, Chanson...

whose "Don't Hold Back"

was a Top 10 R&B smash in 1978.

Jamerson only changed his strings if

they broke. He used LaBella flat wounds-

a "dead" sound with a heavy bottom,

a challenge for Motown's engineers.

Jamerson's bass and all the

guitarists were plugged directly

into the mix board via the

gray box with meters on it.

It is located just to the lower left

of the control booth window.

Hitsville U.S.A. is now the

site of the Motown Historical

Museum, run by Ms. Esther

Edwards, Berry Gordy's sister.

Though thought of as a basement, Hitsville's

studio was actually a converted garage.

The actual underground basement

was home to the engineering staff.

The studio's nickname,

"Snakepit," derived from

the microphone cables

suspended from the ceiling.

The control room, seen

behind the glass, had

six monitors blasting

both day and night.

The cabinets were custom-built

Rate this script:0.0 / 0 votes

Walter Dallas

All Walter Dallas scripts | Walter Dallas Scripts

0 fans

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 17 Jun 2024. <>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!

    Watch the movie trailer

    Standing in the Shadows of Motown


    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.