Chris White & Emily Reach White hris White and Emily ReachWhite are an unassuming pair. If you were in the crowd at the premier of one of their films, you would not point to them as the filmmakers. Their nature reflects a unique attitude towards filmmaking—steady, thoughtful, positive. “We were raised in homes where our parents went out and did stuff,” Chris explains. “The creative process brought Emily and me together and filmmaking allowed us to continue that process. We aren’t cynics. What you see with us is everything we love in some sort of mash-up of a career.” Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Chris graduated from Irmo High School near Columbia. At 14, he remembers getting a hold of a behindthe-scenes magazine for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. “I read it cover to cover and it was the first time I realized you could actually work in the movies,” he says. Growing older he was hungry to absorb more about film and the filmmaking process. “David Lynch’s Blue Velvet really motivated me. Then I found Woody Allen.” This interest followed him through his undergraduate studies and earning a BA from Furman University. Emily’s parents were very young when they married and were not settled. She spent time growing up in many cities, including Boston and Houston, before moving back to Greenville. “I wrote a lot of very bad poetry as a young child,” she says. Her family encouraged word play, long dinner conversations, and her writing didn’t stop with prose. Corralling her younger brothers, the makeshift radio troupe would record her own radio plays. At nine, she wrote a eulogy for a deceased hamster, inviting everyone from the neighborhood to the pet’s funeral so she could recite the eulogy in front of friends. Continuing to write, she was first published as part of the Mosaic Writing Competition in Georgia while in the seventh grade. She graduated high school from Bob Jones Academy and decided to give up creative writing during college to focus on a straight English major. She received her MA from Miami (OH).
Photo by Jonathan Sharpe
After college, Chris continued to have an itch for filmmaking. In 1995 he completed his film Night Divine. Determined to find a life as a filmmaker, in 2002 he collaborated with fellow Greenville filmmaker Jeff Sumerel on Bragging Rites, a documentary about the Clemson/South Carolina football rivalry that introduced valuable lessons about the changing state of independent film marketing. During this time Chris also had started 440 creative, a marketing firm based in Columbia. The early 2000s were a pivotal time in the film and production industry. With a changing
economy, old rules of production were beginning to disappear. There was a scramble to find new ways to produce work with shrinking budgets. Staring directly at these smaller budgets was a video technology that had not quite caught up with film. It was the beginning of a dynamic shift in the way work was produced and it blindsided the film industry from top to bottom. Chris returned to Greenville and found work teaching drama and film criticism at JL Mann High School. Emily was teaching American Literature at Eastside High School. Both were in-