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Film: Ball People
Scott Lazer brings a Charlotte pedigree to documentary filmmaking, including his latest work "Ball People."
Guest Contributor Scott Lazer is a man of many talents: documentaries, music videos, and more. He discusses his latest project, “Ball People,” and his Charlotte roots below.
12 years ago, as Charlotte prepared to host the Democratic National Convention, my friend Kevin Beaty and I spent 18 months filming a series of 100 short documentaries about the city. It was an attempt to capture a patchwork cultural snapshot; a record of where the city was at the time. We profiled artists, chefs, business leaders, athletes, firefighters; any mover and shaker willing to let us into their world. We called it the Charlotte Video Project.
I love that this collection of films will exist for posterity. It was where I found my filmmaking voice.
Below: A Charlotte Video Project piece featuring Charlotte Fire Station 15 near the intersection of Eastway and Shamrock.
Since attending high school in Charlotte, I’ve lived in New Jersey, California, and now New York City. I’ve created a broad body of work in commercial filmmaking, with advertising, music videos, and television all in the mix. Alongside that professional career, I’ve kept up a steady output of short film work that’s just for me, where I’m my own client, making whatever I want to make.
The latest in that body of work is a short documentary called “Ball People,” which follows a group of applicants vying for a spot on the US Open Ball Crew. It’s a hyper specific, quirky, earnest film style that has very much become my “thing” as a director.
A fellow filmmaker I’ve known since I lived in Charlotte watched “Ball People” recently and messaged me afterwards, “damn dude that's like classic charlotte video project vibes.” He’s right. I’ve been chiseling the same block of marble my entire career.
When I moved to Charlotte almost 20 years ago, I was fortunate to fall into a group of creative and thoughtful friends, most of whom are responsible for Y’all Weekly. Their passion and approach to craft was what first inspired me to create myself - initially with music, then writing and performance, and finally filmmaking which stuck.
It was these formative experiences that led to the style I work in and the films I create. Since then, I’ve taken this practice with me everywhere. I’ve refined it, found more characters to focus on, and worked to improve; but it all took form in Mecklenburg County. You can draw a direct line between what Kevin and I did with the Charlotte Video Project and what I’m doing today with “Ball People” at the US Open.
Like Romare Bearden once said, “I never left Charlotte, except physically.”
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