CHARLOTTE – Jamie Holt is coming off her biggest and most fulfilling film project to date.
The Myers Park High School alum spent two years developing, “The Filth,” a five-episode series that now lives on YouTube. She served as executive producer and director of the series.
“I’m so excited about it because this is the first project I’ve done that is a large-scale that I got to direct, cut my teeth and really show what I can do,” Holt said. “I think it’s really reflective of my style as a filmmaker and as a storyteller.”
“The Filth” follows two main characters. Stella is in the process of coming out to her family as bisexual as she falls in love with a little person. Her best friend, Max, has feelings for his roommate.
Ten pages into reading the script, Holt knew she wanted to direct it. She’s drawn to stories about marginalized people.
“I was really excited about telling stories that were really fresh,” Holt said. “It captured so well, I think, the millennial experience, of kind of struggling to fit into mainstream society, having a day job, paying rent, and just the boring minutia of trying to be an adult, while at the same time, juggling dreams, figuring out who you are and exploring what it means to be a human.”
She reached out to the writers and asked for a meeting. They thought she was going to offer suggestions to improve the script, but what they got instead was a presentation on why she should direct it.
After convincing them to let her direct, they began manifesting their project into existence.
“We started telling people it was happening, and from that momentum, it did,” Holt said. “People started believing in it, and before you know it, we were shooting it.”
After getting a good response from film festivals, the team decided to release the series on YouTube to capture the biggest possible audience. Though the project ended last year, its YouTube channel (The Filth Series) continues to attract new subscribers.
Growing up in Charlotte, Holt had dreams of becoming an actress. She was heavily involved in theater and Odyssey of the Mind, but she realized during her freshman year at UNC Greensboro that acting wasn’t for her.
“Being an actor is such a vulnerable thing,” Holt said. “You have to have this access to your emotions at the drop of a hat, and then you have to do it over and over and over again. I had a hard time accessing that vulnerability.”
She ended up trying different majors, but it wasn’t until her junior year studying abroad in Australia that she took her first film class. One class in particular, post-colonial national cinema, opened her eyes to stories told from all over the world.
“Through that experience, I started understanding how there was so much power in storytelling for identity, changing the world and speaking to these broader ideas that I was really interested,” she said. “Film connected everything for me.”
She gravitated toward directing and producing. She earned a master’s degree in directing and producing from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
While at USC, Holt had an internship with Suzanne Todd, a producer whose credits include the “Austin Powers” trilogy, “G.I. Jane,” “Memento,” “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “Bad Moms.”
“That was the first time I was like, ‘Oh, I’m in Hollywood. I have arrived,’” Holt said. “That was really cool because I got to learn so much just about the business side of filmmaking.”
After graduating from USC, she worked for Catherine Hardwicke, who directed “Twilight,” Lords of Dogtown,” “Thirteen” and “Miss Bala.”
“That was when I got to sink my teeth in and get into Hollywood,” Holt said.
She directed and produced digital content for ABC for a while. She also worked with Justin Simian, a writer and producer of the Netflix series “Dear White People.”
Working with talented people has helped refine her style as a filmmaker.
Holt stays connected to Charlotte. Her parents, Harris and Lyn Holt, own Harris Holt Framing & Art Services.
Holt and her boyfriend have each screened films at the Joedance Film Festival. She has a deep connection with the festival because she was good friends with its namesake.
The festival honors Joe Restaino, who died in 2010 at age 20 from health complications related to a rare form of bone cancer. It raises money for rare pediatric cancer research and clinical trials.
Holt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis around the same time Joe was diagnosed with cancer.
“I felt so connected to him at the time because I didn’t know anyone else who was ever dealing with anything like that,” Holt said. “I really looked up to Joe the way he navigated having cancer.”
Holt described her multiple sclerosis diagnosis as a weird left turn because the 16-year-old was driven and had a clear vision of how she thought her life would unfold.
“Honestly, the trauma really was more like the loss of what I thought my identity was and my life was going to be and what I thought I knew,” Holt said. “But the beauty of it is gaining this whole new perspective and learning so many things through the course of just dealing with that diagnosis that has shaped me as a person.”
She acknowledges the debilitating disease could eventually affect her career as a filmmaker, considering it’s an extremely physical job, but she doesn’t think about it daily. She takes the attitude of whatever happens, she’ll deal with it.
In the meantime, she is in talks about directing a new project.