The Reality of Our World in ‘Picture Proof’

September 15th was a special evening for Concord University. The movie “Picture Proof” was shown for everyone in the community. This event was done by The Collegiate Recovery Organization with Brandon Whitehouse helping with the event. Not only that, but the filmmaker, Tijah, and Mrs. Debbie Ellis were there, a figure who appeared in the movie. The film was filmed in 2019 and racked in 300 hours (about 2 weeks)’ worth of footage. When asked when they deemed to be done with the movie, Debbie Ellis had this to say:

Debbie Ellis

The film’s return time used 1 hour and 29 minutes as its total length. The film shows the life of Ashley Ellis who was out of a substance abuse disorder through rehab with her former boyfriend, Brandon. The film features the children of Ashley as well as her mother, Debbie Ellis. The film features events from Ashley being pregnant, getting married and even getting custody of her daughter back. However, this film also features the dark period after coming clean, relapsing. Ashley relapsed right after Brandon did after the birth of her newborn son. The film shows the struggles of substance abuse as well as shed light on relapsing and how hard it is to pick your life back up after coming clean multiple times. The film was powerful with speaking the truth and showing the world the message of substance abuse and the effects, it has on people whether you are clean or not.  

The name of the film came from an incident in the past involving Ashely and Debbie. Debbie explained to me that one during a text message conversation with her daughter, Ashley, that she knew she had pawned her purse. However, Ashley denied this and even after Debbie asked for photographic evidence Ashely went all the way back to the pawn shop and snapped a photo of her purse and claim that she left it behind. However, this was not true, and Debbie figured out what happened days later. This film was shot in Huntington, West Virginia and has been showing locally around the area.  

The story powerful and emotional for everyone in attendance, a majority of those were people sharing their stories about their drive to become clean as well as questions about the film and where everyone is now. When asked what happened to Ashley’s children, Debbie said:

Debbie Ellis

The sad ending for Ashley was when, after filming wrapped up, in 2021 Ashley Ellis passed away from substance use disorder, leaving her mom to take care of her children.  

Seeing how much this film moved the people involved in the viewing of this film makes me hope that a wider audience can see this story. This film has a beautiful message of how we can all help those who have recently quit substance abuse as well as the struggles they face mentally. This film can also influence those on what matters more than uncontrolled substances as well as how they take a toll on the body. Overall Picture Proof was beautifully edited and the message of substance abuse being dangerous was executed marvelously. I only hope more people can experience this film and come together to fight off substance abuse.  

by Kaleb Watson

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