Rand Courtney grew up in rural South Carolina, in an era just before cell phones and smart TVs entered our collective consciousness and began to take hold of our children’s’ adolescence. It was an era of frosted tips, grunge music, boy bands and dial-up internet, and it was an era that produced that very last generation of children who remember life before social media and streaming TV began to mold our perceptions of the world.
There were not a lot of creative outlets for kids growing up in rural South Carolina in the 1990s, so Rand turned to local community theatre as a means to explore the artistic aspects of his mind and to express his originality. He delighted in the camaraderie built and shared with the casts and crews over the course of the twelve years he devoted to learning the craft, and was soon getting booked for television and film roles that he auditioned for in Wilmington, NC, a small but thriving market for professional production.
Finding happiness and contentment was never easy for Rand. He struggled through his teenage years after losing both his mother and nine-year-old sister in a tragic accident. That event had a significant impact on both his emotional and his physical health, as he struggled for many years with depression and addiction, and eventually he rebelled against authority. That tragedy took him to the brink of his life, and it took a great deal of time for him to adapt to life without his loved ones and to accept the reality of their death. As he progressed through a wide range of emotions, including sadness, anger, anxiety, emptiness, guilt, and regret, he began to shoulder the burden of the loss, finally recognizing that, although this would forever change him at the most fundamental level, that was okay.
In 2007, at 27 years old and still aching from the traumas of his adolescence, Rand needed a change. His routine had grown tedious and unfulfilling and his small town’s history was closing in on him. So, following in the footsteps of the early pioneers in the days of the Westward expansion, he packed up all his belongings and headed to California. Not to chase gold, but rather fulfillment. He first landed in San Francisco before finally settling in Los Angeles, where his time in front of the camera began to take a back seat in favor of a far more comfortable seat behind it.
Never a big proponent of the traditional schooling model, in which a student’s success is very often linked to the ability to regurgitate facts, his schooling in the art of video production was almost exclusively self-taught. This included a technical understanding of camera operation, lighting, audio recording, location sound operation, editing, directing and producing. It was a whirlwind of a practical educational experience, and it generated a level of enthusiasm and excitement that Rand had never known.
Although this change of course effectively meant starting over, Rand was perfectly willing to accept the occasional wedding ceremony or local music video, as long as it would eventually lead to his ultimate goal of producing meaningful content for serious clients. Recognizing early on that video production was significantly more achievable and affordable than it was twenty-five years ago, even for a self-funded, grassroots, boutique ad-agency like his, Rand began to create video content for local businesses and corporations.
Creating a representative and accurate account for real people eventually led Rand to an understanding that there is no more powerful an artistic force that a good story, well told. And, for the first time, he knew where he was destined to land. Documentaries are a unique art form, a creative medium that brings glimpses of real life directly into the audience's consciousness. It allows viewers to understand subjects from different perspectives and opens minds to the idea that things are not always as they seem. This was his pot of gold at the end of his rainbow, and this was where he wanted to hang his hat. The climb was certainly difficult, and surely not worth repeating, but the view was amazing.
Today, Rand is married with two beautiful little girls and, because of the vast array of his life experiences, today he has the privilege to convey his stories through personal documentary filmmaking, while also perhaps changing the way people view the world.