In Praise of Tragedy

Film is often viewed as escapism. We go to the movies to avoid thinking of the life we have, or to imagine the life we want. Many times fantasies, super hero films, sci-fi, rom-coms or period pieces all fuel that desire for escapism. They do so by wrapping up plot points in neat bows where the hero wins, the good guys relationships are mended, and any tragedy is offset by happiness, even if it is a solemn happiness. 

While I recognize the need for such films and the role they play I often feel like they fail to really connect to us on a deeper level. When was the last time a film like those genuinely moved you. It’s rare. In part that’s because they simply aren’t relatable for us. 

Unless your life is literally all sunshine, rainbows and butterflies, chances are many of the most happy times in your life are bracketed by equally sad times.

Sometimes the happy times only come because of the sad times. Imagine the happiness of seeing your daughter married paired with the sadness of knowing she’ll be moving across the country and you’ll only ever see her again once or twice a year. It’s churlish to say our child’s wedding is a tragedy, but the truth is you are experiencing her happiness at the expense of your own. 

In “The Door Creaks” (a screenplay that’s both the official selection of the Cannes Screenplay Contest and the South Carolina Underground Film Festival), a young girl is repeatedly raped by her step father, and it isn’t until he threatens her brother that she gains the courage to take action. Her actions are clever, swift, and demonstrate a determination that are characteristics of the most heroic of heroes, and as such, when her moment of triumph comes, there is a temptation to end with a celebration. She’s free from abuse, she’s saved her brother, all is right with the world.

But is it really? Does having the perpetrator brought to violent justice really undo what she’s been through? What her brother’s been through? What her mother will have to come to grips with? What the community will have to unravel?

Of course not! And acting like it does minimizes the grief that she, as a real person, would be living with for the rest of her life. It minimizes the guilt her mother would feel from failing to protect her daughter. It minimizes the healing the entire community needs to go through to come to grips with the fact that they allowed this poor girl to be abused and did nothing to stop it for 120 pages of script. 

In that screenplay there is literally no one who can be allowed to continue life in a happy manner, and neither should the audience. When viewing a film where characters experience such great hardship or great loss, smiling faces and a swift up turn in mood may lessen the experience and leave the audience on an artificial high note, but it also undercuts the entire point of the film. 

To avoid this I decided that the perpetrator should get the last word, that I should end it on his account of events, that I should, if possible take the entire story and pile another cloud of darkness over it to let the tragedy really sink in for the audience. This forces them to pull themselves out of the mire, forces them to face the issues they’ve spent the past two hours considering, and decide how they want to handle it. Without the artificial “out” of an abused child smiling in the arms of a loving parent, the audience is left to resolve the story beyond the run time, and determine for themselves how our heroine can finally get her happy ending. 

So why torture my audience in this way? Well in the case of “The Door Creaks” the entire story serves to point the finger of culpability at the audience. To say, in effect, “you may not have done the things to this girl that the step father did, but consider your role. Were you the mother who was oblivious to the abuse happening in your house? Were you the community, who denied it was happening even when faced with the evidence? Were you the pastor who needed her to take action to save herself before you could come along and help?” In effect the story looks at the audience and says “you’re guilty.”

This is particularly relevant where I live in South Carolina, as the upstate is one of the largest hubs of sex trafficking in the South by virtue of it’s position between two major metropolitan areas and the simple fact that it’s a practice that too few people are interested in or capable of delivering an effectual blow against. As a community we tend to take a role similar to one of the major characters in the story, and as such are guilty of allowing this practice to continue in our backyards. 

By forcing the audience to take a look at themselves, to come up with their own resolution, and then examine the film in the context of their own lives, the hope is that more people will be inspired to take action.

In the case of “The Door Creaks” the hope is that people will be able to identify victims of sexual abuse, will be able to intervein on their behalf, and will be encouraged to take a stand against perpetrators. 

More films could do this. By eschewing the smiling faces and happy ending, many films can strike a stronger, more heart felt blow for their particular cause, and inspire action from their audience. While a happy ending may make the film more appealing to those going to the cinema for escapism and let them leave with good feelings, tragedy is what really compels change. If we all embraced a little more tragedy in our entertainment, then perhaps the world would be a happier place. 

A New Direction

A New Direction

Life gets stagnant, unenjoyable, depressing. For freelance artists, entrepreneurs or contractors that usually means you’re doing something wrong. After all those of us who choose to wander a path of self-sufficiency do so because we value freedom over security, we value self-expression over conformity, and because we want to walk to the beat of our own drum. 

Well for me, that drum has been beating out of time since about the day I started Other Vision Studios. 

I’ve always been a bit of a multi-purpose artist, and even as far back as high school I knew I wanted to use my various artistic abilities to become a teller of stories. I went to college to study film because I fully believe that  in film, all the arts that have every existed have some level of representation, and this superhero artistic team-up seems to me the best means to tell a story that humanity has ever come up with. 

Throughout college and into grad school I believed that my life would be spent telling stories, and I was on the path to do exactly that… until I started my company. Then all of a sudden other things became a priority. Bills, networking, meetings, proposals, taxes…. all of this stuff that took away from the core mission of telling stories. It wore me down, it changed my focus, and eventually I began to believe a lie.

It’s a lie we’ve all heard. In fact most of the time people lead with it. You probably know which one I’m talking about too… in fact you may have used it yourself.

You run into a guy who does marketing, advertising, web design, or video production or any other related film and the first thing he’s going to tell you is “I’m here to help you tell your story.” And that is the biggest lie this generation of creatives has ever served up. 

Let’s just be clear, marketing is not storytelling. I know because I’ve spent the past 7 years desperately trying to convince myself that it is. But when you compare the story of a home grown, family owned business founded on grit and determination that serves the community against, for instance, the complete works of Shakespeare it’s pretty clear we’re talking about two vastly different things. You wouldn’t say Romeo and Juliet isn’t a story so you’d probably have to conclude your Instagram strategy is the thing that’s been miscategorized.  

And there in lies the problem for me. It’s not that marketing and advertising are bad things or somehow ignoble professions. Quite the contrary, they are great and effective allies in the never ending fight to get your name or business “out there,” or “top of mind.” However, when I stated as a kid that I wanted to be a story teller, it’s almost the exact opposite of what I had in mind. 

However, the past few weeks, maybe even months have changed something in me. I found myself in a position where taking on clients to pay bills was less important than taking on clients with interesting projects. Part of that allowed me to take on the daunting task of writing a feature length screenplay. (Yes, daunting is the right word, I’ve done it three times, and it’s a massive mountain to climb each time). 

This shift has brought me face to face with what I truly mean when I say “I want to be a story teller.” It’s not that I don’t want to help you get your brand out to the masses, but I’d rather show over the course of 90-120 minutes how you came up with the idea for your business, the obstacles you faced, the failures, the triumphs, and how that changed you as a person. In other words, I’d rather be telling your actual story than your marketing “story.”

So now I have to make a decision. I have the past of my company — a business that engages in creating video content for other businesses (and does it quite well I might add) — and I have the future of my company — a business that engages in the creation of narrative films that move, inspire, entertain, and challenge. How do I shift from one to the other? 

Well, as natural and as enjoyable as the narrative filmmaking process is for me (it honestly fits me like a glove), it’s not profitable for me yet. Furthermore, I have some really great clients who I have no intention of abandoning. I also have a skillset that can be incredibly useful for businesses, and should you choose to call me, I’m happy to continue to serve you. However, going forward my priority is first and foremost feature films. 

I know that’s going to be a disappointment to some of you, but as great a video producer as I may have been, at best I’ve been a fish out of water there, and I owe it to both you and to myself to see where I really do fit in. 

All of this said, I would encourage you if you want video, especially my style of video, please feel free to reach out. I’m happy to consider your project, and even if I can’t take it on, I’m still connected with many talented people who can, and I’d be happy to find you a great match for your project. It may be that I miss marketing from time to time, and if you catch me in one of those times you’ll be getting not only my marketing expertise cultivated over the past 7 years, but also the benefits of a creative mind consistently occupied with crafting stories. 

How Not To Start A Year

Continuing on with “Year In Review The Series,” I figure we may as well start at the beginning… it is a very good place to start.

Other Vision was flying pretty high at the end of 2016, with the period between October-December being particularly profitable, and it looked to continue in 2017 as well with January already starting to fill up as early as November. Things were looking so positive at this point that I felt the business could sustain me personally through a rather expensive quest…. becoming a home owner.

Thanks to David and Chelsea at the Haro Group, I was able to find a pretty great home in my price range and close on it on Dec. 30th, 2016 (about one month after I started looking…. yeah, they’re impressive). I went straight from signing the papers a rehearsal dinner for one of my closest friends. In short, it would have been hard to imagine a better end to 2016.

Then January 1st came around. As happens from time to time, a few of the jobs we thought we had booked ended up falling through. An event was cancelled, one shoot moved from GA to NY and didn’t take us with them, mostly stuff beyond our control. In business, that happens, and you come to expect it. What you don’t come to expect is for literally every job you have lined up to fall through.

On the personal side things weren’t going much better, as despite my best efforts, a miscommunication with my apartment’s property manager meant that I owed an extra month’s worth of rent on my apartment (despite not living there), and since my lease was technically auto-renewed for one month, it was billed at the highest possible rate. In other words right off the bat I found myself owing more than double what my mortgage would have been in the first month. When you’ve just sunk most of your money into a house, that’s not the sort of news you want to find out after the fact.

It got worse. On the positive side the period between January and March saw us have a record volume of inquiries for our services. It seemed like every single day a new potential client was ringing me up or shooting me an e-mail. However, not a single one of them booked us. That meant from about mid January to April I didn’t have a single job, and I was getting to the point where I was wondering if I’d ever book a gig again. 3 months of no work when you’ve just taken on a major expense is, to say the least, disheartening.

To say this was crushing to me personally would be an understatement. By February, I was questioning if I was cut out for this job. By March, I was taking the calls with the assumption that even if we got a signed contract the job would be cancelled. When I called my team to tell them we had work, I found myself going out of my way to make sure they knew it was a tentative gig. Through out it all I felt myself slipping further and further into depression, and really just wanted to give up.

But I did promise to keep this positive. Believe it or not, 2017 actually turned out to be a pretty great year. In terms of finances it looks like Other Vision will be finishing slightly ahead of where we were last year, which is almost unbelievable considering we were only doing billable work for 9 months. While I may have been in a very bad place at the beginning of the year, God never allowed me to be totally destitute (although I may have acted like it). All the bills got paid, almost on time, and while my credit card was used far more than I wanted it to be, I survived.

The fear during this period was overwhelming. Looking at my business, feeling like it was on a clock that could run out at any minute, not knowing if I would be able to afford my house less than one month of buying it… all of that combined to nearly knock me out. But if fear was overwhelming, so was hope, and so was provision. Even when things were at their darkest, the seeds of some of our biggest and best work were being laid, and this period, as bad as it was, turned out to be necessary for what was to come.

Goes to show, the road isn’t always smooth, there are pretty dark parts along any path, but the destination is worth it!

Next time I’ll talk about the start of what may prove to be our biggest project yet, The Door Creaks!


Collins Abbott White is an award-winning Producer, Director and DP, and owner of Other Vision Studios specializing in creative corporate content and narrative film. If you need a video produced for your business or if you have an idea for a film, e-mail, he’s always interested in meeting new people and trying new things.



Make Your Video Memorable

Year In Review 2017 – The Series

I am about to do something I find utterly pretentious when I see it done by others, and I fear that there is no amount of self-deprecation, witty observations, or insightful tidbits that can save what follows from being both obtuse and narcissistic. However, after several agonizing seconds of self-reflection, and a rather long conversation about a current project, it became clear that I should do the dreaded “year-in-review” post.

I’ve decided not to just do one blog post, but rather a series (the length of which is still not determined), that focuses on major projects we undertook, themes this year has adopted, tips, tricks, and the evolution of our style etc. So to finish off this first post let me lay a few ground rules:

1. I want what follows to be encouraging to artists, specifically filmmakers, who have felt frustrated in the pursuit of their careers. If you are any sort of artist you have chosen one of the most difficult and convoluted career paths possible, more so if you are a filmmakers. The marriage of art and business is never more essential than in the film world. Many people find these skill sets at odds, and efforts to unite them often end in failure. I can’t honestly say I’ve been successful at it yet, but I can say it’s become easier with time.

2. I will be honest. It’s not helpful for me to pretend that everything has gone smoothly. It is not helpful for me to act like there weren’t moments when I wanted to throw in the towel. Too often we see the end result and think that it always looked like that. I hope in some measure to strip away the façade of success that surrounds so many social media pages, and delve into the struggles (from both a personal and business perspective), the technical, and the reasoning behind decisions that were made. This is an industry of perception, bright lights, expensive cameras, and a showman in the center (maybe not the greatest showman, but a showman none the less). So much of that is inconsequential. I hope to show you that.

3. It will be personal. As of right now, Other Vision and Collins White are separated only by a legal document and a bank account. When Other Vision has an up day, Collins has an up day, when Collins has a bad day, Other Vision has a bad day. The two are intertwined, and while in the next year or two I hope to take Other Vision to a place where Collins isn’t necessary for it’s continued operation, that is not the case now, so something things that sit firmly in the personal realm will be included on this business page.

4. It will be positive. I’m not about to deride my competition, or throw people under the buss, or complain about clients all over Facebook. I will be honest, but if you want a totally unfiltered opinion, best we do that over coffee. Besides, my new year’s resolution is to take more coffee meetings with new people, so hit me up, you’ll be helping me reach my goals 🙂

5. I will not be overly technical. There will be times I discuss how we set something up, and the nuts and bolts of filmmaking, and the reasoning behind creative decisions, but I’m going to try to keep this as much of an overview as possible.

6. I will not engage in positioning. You’ve seen it. People post blogs that talk about how creative they are, all their wonderful connections, how amazing their work is under the pretense of offering value. I hate that. If you want to know my position in this market look at my demo reel. If you want to hear about the wild ride that 2017 has been with its ups and gain any insight to how I and Other Vision operate, then look here.

My hope is that in being honest, I will encourage many of you. This job isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes it’s a war, sometimes it’s a brick wall you can’t climb over, sometimes it’s facing an army of trolls. Whatever else it may be, it is, beyond anything else, Worth It. And that’s what I hope to communicate over the next few days. My plan is to hit the major projects, and major phases our business went though and discuss each in detail. However, there is a comments section here for a reason…. if you have a specific question, or want me to talk about a specific project, just leave a comment. I’ll either address it in one of these posts, or chat with you about it privately.

Next post I’ll discuss how NOT to start a year.

Collins Abbott White is an award-winning Producer, Director and DP, and owner of Other Vision Studios specializing in creative corporate content and narrative film. If you need a video produced for your business or if you have an idea for a film, e-mail, he’s always interested in meeting new people and trying new things. 



Make Your Video Memorable

Introducing Deep Focus

Other Vision Studios is pleased to annonce that our blog is now becoming a resource for film and video producers and those interested in the film and video production industry. We’ll be answering your questions, giong behind the scenes on Other Vision’s productions, and discussing some of the things that work in film, and some of the things that don’t work so much. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you don’t miss a single episode of what will undoubtably be the best thing in the history of things!

Other Vision Studios is a film and video production company based out of Greenville, SC. If you need a partner for your next film, or you’re looking for a creative video production company to help you market your business, we’d be happy to help. Visit our website to see what we can do for you.

Fete Halloween Special

Scary Video

Creepy Clown

Other Vision Studios produced this spooky video in partnership with Fete Greenville as part of their Halloween special. Jay Spivey, editor of Fete asked us to produce something genuinely unnerving, that would make people uncomfortable and want to look away, while at the same time grabbing their attention. I think we nailed it! What do you think?

Like this video?

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Producing A Film For A Festival

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Other Vision Studios is known around Greenville, SC as being one of the best video production companies in the upstate. We’ve produced music videos for several local artists, brand videos for several great businesses, produced launch videos for a handful of products, and created several YouTube Channels for our clients, (and a brand-new YouTube Channel for our self). Despite all that our ventures in the short and feature film production side of this industry have been few and far between. That’s why, we were delighted when we were chosen to participate in the 2nd Act Film Festival!

The 2nd Act Film Festival is rather unique among festivals in that, rather than choosing films, it chooses filmmakers. If that statement doesn’t make much sense, let me explain. In most film festivals, a director will submit a finished short or feature which will be viewed by the festival curators and they will decide if that film in and of itself is a good fit for the festival or not. In the 2nd Act Film Festival, a filmmaker submits themselves in the form of a paragraph about their work and art, and samples from their past projects and the curator will then decide which filmmakers they would like to produce a brand-new film to be shown in their festival. In my case, since most of the work Other Vision does is corporate video, I submitted our latest Music Video, Dreams, and our rather comical #yeahTHATGreenville videos.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”2284″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]I had personally been wanting to try my hand at short films for a long time. Our clients always appreciated our commitment to quality and creativity, and I was certain that commitment would translate to the narrative film genre. So, when I got the e-mail letting me know I had been accepted, I was over the moon, but only briefly, because the real work was about to begin. With that e-mail came the assignment. I was given the first two lines and the last two lines of a script and had to write everything in between. It had to be under 5 minutes, and it had to be written within a week. After reading the brief I sat and stared at my monitor for what might have been hours, thinking through how I was going to accomplish this, and what story I could tell with those limitations. Then, as I often do when faced with tough decisions, I grabbed my keys and went for a drive to nowhere in particular while I mulled the entire thing over.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]Problem is with any project like this almost every story I could come up with didn’t fit one of the criteria (I also had to produce it in a little over a week too, so “do-ability” was also a concern). When I was a student in film school, most of the things I wrote were sci-fi, fantasy. I love those stories and could write a doctoral dissertation on why they are so compelling, but this one needed to be much more down to earth… more personal… more rom-comish. And after an evening of pondering, the story of someone trying to get to sleep while her partner snored ever so loudly was born.

I won’t spoil the details, as I’d much rather you watch it for yourself to get the full plot, but I will say that I’m quite proud of the script and a whole lot of what we’re doing underneath the surface with this film. After the script was approved, we shot it in one very late night at my apartment, then I spent about a week editing it and then it was time for the festival. My crew and I took a road trip down to Columbia, SC, schmoozed with the 9 other filmmakers, and watched 10 great films that evening.

Unlike other film festivals that give out awards based on judge’s decisions, the 2nd Act Film Festival only gives out one award, and audience choice award. I’d like to say we were in the running for the prize. I mean, when our film premiered, the audience was with us from beginning to end and we got a pretty good pop from the crowd for how we integrated the provided lines, not to mention a major reaction at our climax (just watch it and you’ll know what I’m talking about). However, when it was all said and done we were left with a poster, a nice coffee mug, pride, new friends, and an hour and a half drive back to Greenville.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_single_image image=”2301″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]On the way back, we discussed the other films. There had been some challenging ones, ones that were emotionally hard to watch, ones that were experimental, ones that were funny, and one that made me jealous (because it was sci-fi and I wish I had done a sci-fi). We stopped at Waffle House ordered a round of All-Stars (cause that’s what we were), jumped back in the car and sang along with Tenacious D all the way home.
In the end it was a great experience, one that I’d like to do again. While we may have left without top prize we came away with quite a bit more. Shama, one of the actors in Sleep, is now working with me on Deep Focus (our new YouTube channel), and Sleep has already been accepted into two other film festivals as of this writing. Participating in a festival like this one is a great way to make new connections, jump start your short film career, or beat writers block. I know I’ll be putting my name in the hat for next year’s festival, and would encourage anyone who’s working in the short film industry to do the same.

Other Vision Studios is a film and video production company based out of Greenville, SC. If you need a partner for your next film, or you’re looking for a creative video production company to help you market your business, we’d be happy to help. Visit our website to see what we can do for you.


Your Video Is Not A Marketing Strategy

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1459373999891{padding: 25px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Video is awesome for marketing, it’s the most powerful tool for communication we’ve ever come up with as a human race (feel free to argue against that in the comments if you dare), and it is basically the backbone of the internet at this point. Video is awesome. But it’s simply not a marketing strategy.

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Producing B-Roll Video of Greenville

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1459373999891{padding: 25px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Being a video producer in Greenville, SC means that every once in a while when shooting commercials or promotional video we have to venture out into the city and shoot B-roll of beautiful downtown Greenville, SC. (#yeahTHATGreenville)

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