Documentary project tells city’s story
by Staff Writer
The highly anticipated Energy Production & Infrastructure Center at UNC Charlotte, also known as EPIC, has long been talked about in the city as it braces to stake its claim in the growing regional energy sector. Most people in Charlotte have at least heard of the endeavor in passing, even if not extensively. As for those far outside the city’s reach, however, the center was a virtual unknown.
Now, thanks in part to an innovative project by a bright, young duo, EPIC and many other intimate facets of Charlotte are one step closer to international recognition.
The Charlotte Video Project is a bold undertaking by Hopewell High alums Kevin Beaty, 22, and Scott Lazes, 23, to produce 100 short documentaries about the city leading up to the Democratic National Convention.
“It is the Charlotte Video Project,” Lazes said, “but Charlotte, like many cities, is comprised of its metropolitan area as well as its surrounding parts. What’s been interesting for us is to see how the various communities in and around Charlotte fit together. The EPIC example is a good one, because that video is about students learning engineering in the energy field, and that has a direct correlation with the uptown Charlotte energy community.”
Aside from being supported by Charlotte in 2012, the DNC’s official host committee, the pair has worked to market the city and its work.
“Because of the nature of the project, we’ve been sending pieces out to subject-specific blogs around the country,” Beaty said. “So people who are interested in those things can look at our library and find those things in there.”
Added Lazes: “And then they’ll see that Charlotte contributes to whatever that subject is, in its own way.”
With more than 12,000 views since the duo began posting videos in October, their project has caught the attention of viewers across the country.
“It’s been a very supportive effort,” Lazes said. “We’ve had a lot of support from our subjects, a lot of support from the business community in helping us fund the project, and even a lot of moral support from people who have nothing to do with it. That’s sort of the biggest element – contributing to this regional pride.”
Other pieces include separate profiles on performing artists Carlos Robson, Jocelyn Ellis and Boris “Bluz” Rogers, a local Civil War reenactment, Mayor Anthony Foxx’s Youth Employment Program and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Although the videos cover a diverse array of local aspects, the high visibility of the project, especially to non-locals, leads the group to shy away from taking on certain stories.
“It’s a positive project,” Beaty said, “So when we come across things that are a little bit controversial, we try not to do it. It’s not something we’re not interested in, but for this project specifically, it’s not what we’re doing.”
No matter how varied the subject matter of their videos tends to be, however, passion seems to be the unifying concept among them all.
“It helps when the subjects are passionate about what they do,” Lazes said. “And that, I think has been the case across the board. Most of our subjects have been leaders in their communities.”