Director Biography – Niko Gonzalez (DROPPING OUT)

Born and raised in California, Nicholas “Niko” Gonzalez developed a passion for the arts at a young age. After pursuing music for most of his life, a chance encounter with a college film course led him on his current path. He moved to North Carolina at age 20, studying film at Blue Ridge Community College from 2014 to 2017. Completing the program with an Associate of Arts Degree in Film and Video Production Technology, he moved to Cullowhee in 2018 to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Western Carolina University’s School of Stage & Screen; he graduated from WCU’s program in 2021. Now with his second degree in hand, the future is wide open…

Director Statement

All art is a gateway into the human soul, and film may be the most direct path to that destination. My aim is to learn about myself as a human through the process of making art: My strengths, my faults, and everything in-between.

Inspired by the humanist works of Mike Leigh, Vittorio De Sica, and Yasujirō Ozu, as well as the brazen curiosity of Agnès Varda, Chantal Akerman, Jean-Luc Godard, and the Maysles Brothers, “Dropping Out” is my attempt at capturing a side of America that is today mostly swept under the rug. I wanted to ask, “What kind of person is produced when they are treated like a lost cause? How does that extend to those closest to them?”

Growing up with an older sister who had vastly different outlooks on life than I did, this concept of otherness among siblings presented a chance to dig deep into those questions. This, combined with the quietly offbeat archaicness of Sylva and the talents of a truly unbelievable cast and crew, provided a prime chance to create, what I feel, is my first truly mature film.

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