The lights. The sounds. The cameras. She’s working behind the scenes to put it all together, working meticulously to bring her vision to life. She’s coordinating other students, calling the shots as the video director. She’s an actress herself, but her true passion is video. She’ll be directing Tunescast for the 5:30 and 8:00 performances of Tiger Tunes today.
Senior Ashton Spence transferred to Ouachita as a sophomore in 2017 from Arkansas State University Mid-South, where she initially sought a vitalized theater program, but, as ASU Mid-South doesn’t have a theater program, she took intro classes to form the foundation of her major in Mass Comm.
“Whenever I came into the equipment room, the broadcast studio and the theater department, I just I knew this was where I was supposed to be,” Spence said.
Spence is a double major in theater and mass communications. Spence works closely with Dr. David Ozmun, a communications professor, to curate and produce videos within the framework of the department of communications.
“It’s funny because as soon as I accepted that this is where I was supposed to be, and this is where God was calling me, it was like he opened up a floodgate of doors,” Spence said.
During her second semester, Spence went to Israel with Mike Huckabee for an all expense paid trip to the Holy Land on the stipulation that Spence make a video to document their time there. However, Spence’s experience with video came at a much earlier age.
“Whenever I was little bitty, I did horse shows. My grandmother would come to the horse shows, and she would always bring her video camera. She would video me riding horses, and whenever I had some free time, she’d let me run around with the camera and take all these different trials,” Spence said.
While her experience with horse shows introduced her to cinematography, it wasn’t until eighth grade that Spence began to produce work that allowed her to find her voice, sounding off when she made a video advocating against racism and affirming God’s unequivocal love for her youth group. Spence then would begin to learn the in’s and out’s of video editing.
“That’s when I discovered that I have a real passion for video. My youth minister wanted more videos like that. So he actually talked to my church, and they got the money together to get me Final Cut. They downloaded Final Cut Pro onto my computer, and I started teaching myself,” Spence said.
Spence credits her father for animating her passion for video and for being a source of inspiration and confidant for artistic direction.
“My dad is my biggest supporter. I’ll call him at midnight sometimes like, ‘Okay. I have a video idea. I need you to roll with me on this.’ I’ll call, and he’s asleep. But if I don’t tell it right then I’m going to lose the idea. But he’s supportive. He’ll pretend like he’s awake long enough for me to get the idea,” Spence said.
Spence’s father is a youth pastor and management director for Indigo Ag. The passion for the video runs in the family, but Spence finds that she gets to collaborate with her dad to bring ideas to life.
“We both have the same passion for it: he loves the idea of video. So he’s able to come up with all these different ideas, and then I’m able to create it,” said Spence.
Last year, Spence collaborated with her brother to bring one of his spoken words to life. The video, which can be found on her Youtube channel, went viral around Marion, Arkansas. Spence filmed and edited the video, which was shot at numerous locations and then stitched together on her computer.
Being the video director for Tunescast is Spence’s biggest role to date for a video gig, but her time at Ouachita has led her to all ends of the broadcast studio. Though she began as a camera operator, then as editor and visionary.
Before her role as video director, Spence worked with Ozmun to learn how to step out of her comfort zone and shoot video in new, creative ways.
“He’s taken my perspective of how a scene should be and kind of turned it a little bit. He’s like, ‘See if there’s a different way to shoot it.’ He’s really helped me ‘stop and think.’ For me, it’s very hard for me to take a step,” Spence said.
One of the biggest obstacles that Spence has had to overcome is learning how to adapt to new situations, crediting the skills she’s learned as an actress in the theater program.
“Ouachita has taught me to be flexible. Especially in theater, because something’s always going to go wrong: a mic is going to go dead, sound’s going to cut out, something’s going to go wrong. Theater has taught me how to just roll with it and keep going,” Spence said.
Though grateful for her time and interest in theater, Spence has decided that she wants a career where she can put her video skills to work. When she graduates, she wants to apply her skills in mass communications in a meaningful way to spread the word of God.
“The dream job is to go and work for a church as a technical director. I want to be behind the scenes of the church and try to come up with different creative ways to share the gospel,” Spence said.
Spence’s favorite video creation is entitled “But God,” and it narrates how God helped Spence overcome her insecurities. Spence believes that her gift for video is a calling from God, and she intends to share His word through her passion.
“If I wanted people to learn anything from my story and what I do, it’s that God does amazing things,” Spence said. “I have all these different things that I struggle with, but he’s given me a way to share my thoughts and share my feelings through video. And God opens up so many different doors if you just let Him.”
By Craig Crawford, staff writer