The Arts

Shining a spotlight on short films – and those who make them


Let no one say that the independent film movement in North Carolina is dying. Sure, it’s taken a few hits – the replacement of tax incentives with a grant program, a significant migration of filmmakers to states with incentives (and therefore more opportunities), and the ongoing lure of New York and Los Angeles – but the indie filmmakers of the Tarheel State represent a resilient and resourceful, to say nothing of talented, creative contingent.

Among that contingent is Zack Fox, a photographer/videographer based in Winston-Salem whose credits include the Dark Heat segment of the North Carolina horror anthology Witching Hour II, the upcoming documentary Sammie the Comic Book Man, and the upcoming Civil War short Our War.

Fox is also the gala organizer for the 2nd Annual MPCWS Short Film Social Gala, which takes place Sunday at the Marketplace Cinemas in Winston-Salem, which is both a celebration of the region’s indie talent, the films being screened in front of the proverbial hometown crowd, and a chance for filmmakers to network and make new contacts in the area. The event is being co-sponsored by Lucid Digital, NerdFox Photography and MPCWS.

“We wanted to give the chance to local filmmakers to show their films on the big screen in front of a live audience,” Fox explains. “We also built this festival to help bring local actors, actresses, writers, directors and filmmakers together with our talent ‘Meet and Greet’ before the Gala.”

(The “Meet and Greet” in the lobby is free of charge, and admission to the Gala screening is only $2.50.)

The first MPCWS Short Film Social Gala last year proved a rousing success, with over 130 people in attendance. Some 600 short films were submitted for consideration. The third-place finalist, Gotta Go, wound up being shown at the Cannes Film Festival and, Fox notes, “last year we helped many directors find new actors for their newest projects.”

In terms of selection criteria, “we want to keep this a local event,” he says. “This year we picked 10 short films from local North Carolina and South Carolina filmmakers. We also received many shorts from Russia, Paris, Turkey, London, and even Iran – seriously! – from which we picked two foreign films to be shown in this year’s Gala. This is our second year and we’re planning on being an annual event.”

The Gala will also include five trailers to upcoming films made in North Carolina and a classic short film. The Davie County Community’s 20-piece band is again opening the event, with a performance of a new original piece of music to Jekyll and Hyde.
Fox makes no bones about the transition from tax incentives to the state’s current grant program. “It devastated the filmmaking community, and even the movie-going community here in North Carolina,” he observes. Not only did (soon to be former Gov.) McCrory cut the filming tax incentives, he raised the movie-going tax, too.

“As a cinematographer and photographer myself, I’ve driven to Atlanta for a large amount of my work since the incentives were cut. The main thing I and the other judges have taken from seeing all the short films we received this year over last is that the local North Carolina filmmakers are still passionate about filmmaking. They’ll do what they must to get the film made.”

Want to go …? The 2nd Annual MPCWS Short Film Social Gala will be held Sunday at the Marketplace Cinemas, 2095 Peters Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem. The Meet and Greet begins at 5:30 pm, the Gala at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $2.50. For advance tickets or more information, call 336.725.4646 or visit You can also find MPCWS on Facebook.