If you’re wondering what in the world it is we do at Films on Tap or why we do it, I know exactly how you feel. I first discovered this hidden gem of an event almost two years ago via a 2-sentence post on Reddit: “Come out to support local filmmakers + watch short films paired with beers.”
Personally, I was sold solely on the premise of pairing two of my favorite things in the world together (film and beer) and being able to support local artists in both crafts. But to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My guess was this was probably a student run thing, and I’d be sitting through a few college senior projects. I half-expected the standard, super serious, “coming of age” narratives, or thinly veiled political metaphors, or experimental (potentially drug-induced) films maybe. But I was 100% okay with all of these scenarios because.. 1) I’d loved making all of those films myself not too long ago and 2) Beer though.
When I got to the event, I immediately knew I was wrong about everything (not a foreign feeling to me). This was a full-blown, professional production, and every detail had clearly been carefully thought out by two local filmmakers: the indomitable Sean Beck and Nicole Driscoll.
This first event was held in the back room of Heist Brewery in NoDa. Every guest was greeted at the ticket booth with a full red carpet and a professional photographer offering to take your photo in front of a custom step-and-repeat backdrop. We each received 5 tickets which could be redeemed for a sample of beer. The catch was that you’d have to wait and receive one beer per film – a pairing which also had been carefully planned by the event coordinators and the featured filmmakers.
Each film was introduced by its respective director with a brief synopsis, a handful of behind-the-scenes anecdotes and why we’d be drinking the particular beer reserved for their film’s time slot. The concept is that there’s a story within each film and each craft beer that’s brewed. Darker films might be paired with stouts or porters; comedies typically are paired with something a little lighter. Some films appear to be simple on the surface, then hit you with a powerful punch when you least expect it — not unlike some Charlotte-brewed IPAs.
Just to be clear, my predictions for what type of films we were in for were also 100% off the mark. We got a hilarious time-travel comedy, a short horror film (with a fantastic and clever twist), a documentary, an animated short, and a music video. The quality and range of both the films and the beers showcased that night was nothing short of remarkable.
Once the credits rolled on the final film of the evening, I was also surprised to see that most of the guests stuck around. Not in a ‘Oh, we got these beers and now we need to finish them’ kind of way. Tons of viewers (including myself) were eager to get out of our seats and introduce ourselves to the featured filmmakers. I’ll admit it: I behaved like a starstruck fangirl, congratulating the directors of my favorite films and high-fiving the actors and actresses who had portrayed my favorite characters of the evening.
And I think that’s where the magic of this event truly is. While attendance has exploded with every iteration, the size of the event is still small enough where you can find yourself sitting next to one of the featured directors or even the stars of the shows, and everyone here is incredibly supportive and eager to talk shop. It’s also fair to assume every single person in attendance has at least two shared interests with you, which takes out a lot of the guesswork and awkwardness of networking with the amazing and talented members of Charlotte’s film community.
Another reason I fell in love with Films on Tap: There’s something about listening to a filmmaker nervously present his or her work for a live audience understanding how much time, heart and effort went into each piece and then watching it all pay off with the audience’s reaction that just makes for an extraordinary experience. I’ve attended every FoT event since its creation, and every time it’s inspired me to go straight home to re-watch my old (cringe-inducing) college pieces or rediscover old, never-produced screenplays (that have been resigned to die on my shelf). My head spins for weeks afterward with new ideas, and that need to ‘create something or bust’ returns.
I joined the Films on Tap crew after their second event for all of the reasons above, and because it’s just one of those things that makes you realize and appreciate the level of talent we have right here in Charlotte, NC. If you’re a member of the Charlotte film community, this is a fantastic event to network with writers, directors, actors and producers. If you’re a movie buff, go for the quality entertainment. If you love supporting local artists, this is a double whammy.
And of course, if you just feel like drinking some beer – there’s tons of that, too.