A table at the Festival’s entrance gives visitors a brief profile on the five directors featured at this year’s festival // Photo courtesy of Barry Falls

The Manifesto Retrospective Film Festival, held this past Thursday at the Spirit Square, was a delightful event that showcased some prominent local student filmmakers of the Charlotte area.

The five filmmakers, who are all graduates of the Arts Institute of Charlotte, presented some of their previous award-winning works from past festivals, along with special premieres of their new thesis films.

At the beginning of the night, each filmmaker’s demo reel and previous works were shown, which gave a good representation of the style and personality of each filmmaker to be seen throughout the night – with some being more playful, and some being more gritty.

The variety and contrast of new works between the filmmakers took the audience on a visual and emotional roller coaster throughout the entire night.  The first new film to be shown was from William Brooks.

Brooks is a graduate of the Arts Institute with a fine arts degree in Digital Film & Video. Along with being a freelance director, Brooks is also owner of his own production company, Envy Pictures.

He is a director, writer and editor with a great talent to display great melancholy emotion in his films with great subtly.

His thesis film, “The Modest Truth”, follows a kid struggling to find a way to connect with his distanced father.

Set in a very simple backdrop of  South Carolina in the 1960s, and with simple but striking cinematography, the message of the film was presented very well.

Brooks became interested in doing this film because growing up, he never had to too hard with his parents.

“I wanted to experience that feeling [of parent to child struggle] on my own and share that with people,” Brooks stated in the post-festival question and answer session.

Next up was Nicole Driscott, a Boston native that decided to make the move to Charlotte to pursue a degree in filmmaking.

Discott has since graduated with a BFA in Digital Film & Video Production (receiving the “Most Outstanding Graduate” award in her class), done freelance work and started her own production company ND Films.

Discott’s films focus on the significance of human interaction, and how it effects how we see ourselves and one another.

Her new thesis film, “Intermediate”, follows MacKenzie Reed, a middle schooler who tries to find her inner identity all while dealing with the awkwardness that comes with prepubescence.

The film does a great job of putting the audience in MacKenzie’s shoes through her uncomfortable trials as a 6th grader.

Following such innocence, Jeremy Garcia’s film personality is a severe contrast, but a severely intriguing one at that.

After receiving his degree in Digital Film & Video Production, Garcia has been a busy man. He works as a freelance editor and camera operator with Dream Media Studios and Grey Hawk Films, and works as a director on music videos and feature-length projects through his production company Illuminated Pictures.

His new film, “The Condition of Existence”, focuses on Dr. Edward Moore, a man who becomes creepily obsessed with his odd “cure” for his patients’ depression and anxiety.

Garcia’s dark and compelling film was the longest of the night, and because of some gripping images, truly one of the most memorable of the night as well.

And in great contrast to Garcia’s tone were works from the most playful filmmaker of the festival, Collin Scouter.

Scouter, who graduated with an associate degree in applied science in Digital Film & Video Production, has since worked as a cinematographer and camera operator for dozens of national and international projects.

He also heads up his own production company, Bad Piano Productions.

Already earlier in the night showing a film about two ridiculous guys playing disc golf, Scouter’s new music videos were about two ridiculous guys rapping about how “Sherlock is a Poeser”.

In comparison with the other works of the night, Scouter’s films were very lighthearted and enjoyable because of their likable randomness.

“Okay, let’s surf on some cars. Or let Troy slam dunk in slow motion. Our improvisation is one of our best things,” said Scouter at the Q&A session.

The final filmmaker of the night was Christian Simpson, a graduate with an associate degree in applied science in Digital Film & Video Production.

With cinematography work ranging from documentaries to commercials to feature length films, Simpson has been very successful since his graduation. He also works as cinematographer at his production company, Down Home Films.

At the festival, Simpson presented his new long form music video for “Watch You Fall” for local artist Orion.

The film focuses on Orion as a fighter competing in an underground fight match while both his worlds inside and outside the ring are fighting as well.

“Watch You Fall” was great work visually, audibly and story-wise and ended the entire night on a high note. The entire fighting sequence was filmed beautifully and choreographed very well.

Simpson consistently aims to make create professional, powerful and most importantly, convincing moving images.

“It was important to me and Christian that the punches didn’t sound like a kung-fu movie,” said Dustin Pegg, the editor and director of the film present for the Q&A session.

The overall experience of the Manifesto Retrospective Film Festival was a definitely a memorable one.

It was amazing to see the great accomplishments of these local filmmakers past and present, with a glimpse of their bright futures ahead.


Patrick is a former Community Editor and A&E editor for the Niner Times. He is pursuing a Communications major with minors in Film Studies and Journalism at UNC Charlotte. Contact him at pbogans@uncc.edu.