Today we’d like to introduce you to Rand Courtney.
Rand, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in a very small town in South Carolina in the 90’s where there wasn’t a lot to do, especially in a creative way. There were only a few local theatre companies that held acting classes so I gave it a shot at 12 years old because I wasn’t into football or baseball or any other sport my community had to offer. I worked at it for many years and fell in love with the arts. Pretty soon I got an agent and was getting booked on television and film by auditioning in a neighboring city of Wilmington, NC where there was a small but thriving market for professional production.
I struggled through my teenage years. I lost my Mother and 9-year-old sister in a car accident when I was 16 years old and that sent me into a 10 year long depression that almost cost me my life. I got severely addicted to drugs and alcohol, got into a lot of trouble with the police and rebelled against the world in general. I drifted away from the arts for many years instead of focusing on growing a new business I had started where I sold magic mushroom grow kits online. It was technically legal but I knew I was riding a very thin red line by selling these mushroom spores and kits online but at that point, I didn’t care much about anything.
Pretty soon, it was 2007 and I was 27 years old and I knew I needed a change; not only from the tiny town i lived in all my life but from acting as well which had grown to be tedious and unfulfilling. I packed up everything I had and moved out west; first to San Francisco and then eventually to Los Angeles where I now call home for good.
I knew I had to quit the mushroom business because it was risking my freedom and also my new found sobriety so I gave it all up and started all over again, from the bottom.
Over the years I had gradually become more comfortable behind the camera rather than in front of it. College was never an option for me because I always hated school, authority and anyone telling me what to do or think in general. So, I taught myself everything I could possibly learn about video production including how cameras work, how light works, audio recording, location sound operation, editing, directing and even producing.
I started off small taking jobs I could scrape off of craigslist, filming birthdays, weddings and the occasional music video. I knew this is ultimately what I did not want to be shooting my whole life but it was affording me to learn more about filmmaking to sharpen my skills for bigger and better gigs down the road.
It took a long while to figure out exactly what kind of videos I wanted to make but it was obvious to me that the real challenge was creating video content for businesses and corporations.
When I grew up you only needed a video for your business if you were going to run an ad on television and it was almost always produced by some giant faceless agency with 25 years in the game. But these days, video is so easily produced and widely accepted as the number one way to get your information online that the job opportunities started becoming more abundant, after all, everyone needs a video for their website. Gradually over the years, I discovered that being a videographer was good but it was better if I also offered editing services. Then I discovered if I offered writing services I could become a production company. Pretty soon after that, I realized if I offered business consultation, marketing advice, along with the other services I provided that I could call myself an ad agency, and that’s what I did.
I now find myself 37 years old, happily married and with a little girl on the way, running an ad agency in Los Angeles with amazing family and friends around to support me. It was extremely difficult to get here and I would never want to walk that 30 miles uphill in the snow again but it was worth it and it made me a stronger person in the end.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I covered this a little bit in my previous question but here are some of the most difficult things I have had to deal with.
My mother and sister died when I was 16 and it was horrifyingly tragic. I loved my mother and my sister but I came from a broken family so it left me empty inside with no clue where to go or who to turn to after it happened.
When I was 18 years old I got my then girlfriend pregnant, but she said it wasn’t mine, that it was my best friend at the time who was the father. She broke up with me, went with him, had the baby and they gave the little boy up for adoption.
Cut to 10 years later and I am living in California and I get a phone call from my ex-girlfriend. She says she has been visiting with the little boy over the years and she saw him recently and realized after seeing his face that he was actually my son. I didn’t believe her until she sent me pictures. It was my son no doubt. The adopted family wanted to know who I was and what I was like. His name was Stephen and he looked just like me. Eventually, I got up the courage to talk to the adopted family and we became friends. We clicked immediately. Eventually, I would meet Stephen in person, with my wife, who was so supportive through the whole thing. Then a weird thing happened, all of the people involved in Stephen’s life came together to support him and show him that all of his disparate family members could come together to love him and be there for him. This went on for 18 months, we called ourselves a “modern family”, it was very special.
Unfortunately, Stephen was depressed, he was very sad and had a lot of mental issues. He always slept and was very depressed and downtrodden all of the time. He was love sick for girls and heartbroken when it didn’t work out with them. He was a total empath, emotional and sweet. In the end, it was too much for him.
One night he snuck into someone’s open truck and stole a 9mm handgun and shot and killed himself in his bedroom.
I never thought I would have to deal with traumatic death so soon in my life but there it was and I had to deal with it again. It could have sent me into relapse but it didn’t. It could have thrown me into a depressive nightmare of which there is no escape but somehow I was able to fight it off and deal with it using all of the skills I had learned getting sober. In the end, I could provide support and hope to those around me who were dealing with the tragedy. I’m still dealing with it today but I am so glad I was able to meet my long lost son whom without I might not have realized how much I want kids.
Creative Deviants – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Creative Deviants is a boutique ad agency that produces online content for startups, small businesses and large corporations. We specialize in story as we feel story is the most important and first step of any creative endeavor be it painting, music, film, etc. What is the story you are trying to tell and how can we help you get there?
We are most proud of the fact that we are a totally self-funded, grassroots company that handles each customer with a unique attention you might be missing from giant agencies with tons of employees. We work every project in-house as if it’s our very own campaign we want to succeed. We think this tailored approach is better for the end product for our customers.
creative deviants inc
May 2019 –
3 mos Los Angeles, CA, USA