The Butler Did It! (or how I started making videos)

29 Nov 2018

The Butler Did It! (or how I started making videos)

By: Rand

When I was 11 I made a movie. Look at it. Yes, it’s terrible. Yes, you can barely hear what anyone is saying. And yes, that is me ‘acting’. If I ever write a book on how to start a video production company, The Butler Did It would the prologue.

The Butler Did It (1991) from Creative Deviants on Vimeo.

That was 27 years ago. So much has changed. It’s taken me this long to feel like I know what I’m doing. But one thing that was true then is still true now: I love making videos.

This was in 1991 and my Father, always scheming, had incurred some sort of a “bank error” in his favor. Almost overnight, he suddenly found $5000 burning a hole in his pocket. At the time, we were living outside Lexington, South Carolina and five thousand dollars was a fortune to us. So, instead of paying down the mortgage or buying new clothes to replace the literal holes in our pockets, my Dad did what any self-respecting American in the 80’s would to do: he bought a bunch of electronics!

Among other things, he purchased two state-of-the-art VCRs and a shoulder-mounted VHS camcorder. This was how I was able to make my first film and was also the starting point of my long and sordid career as a freelance filmmaker.

The technology was crude and primitive, my technique was rough and mostly improvised. I shot on the camcorder the take I wanted and if it didn’t work, I then had to rewind the tape and record over it. In essence, the film had to be shot in chronological order with only useable takes in the final cut. It was a flawed and tedious process. Once the 19-minute film was shot entirely, I then copied the VHS tape. Using these two tapes and two VCR’s, I edited it and added final touches by copying back and forth from VCR to VCR. It was my homemade editing bay.

Needless to say, video production technology has changed and so have my abilities, but little did I know at the time that much of the process would remain the same. It still involves the same process of failing upwards, learning as I go, and embracing failure as fuel for growth rather than ammunition for self-doubt. And most importantly, almost 30 years later, that process is still driven by my inherent curiosity and desire to tell stories.

I guess I should thank my old man for indulging a little all those years ago.