On November 23, 2015, I sat across from a man who, on the surface, shared no similarities with me.
He wore a jumpsuit and I wore a button down.
He had long dark braids and I had short red hair.
He is black and I am white.
It wasn't long into our conversation that I discovered Tre and I had a great deal in common. All I had to do was listen.
Tre was in the middle of an 18-month sentence when he volunteered to be interviewed by a naive college kid. Little did he or I know his decision would lead to a nationally awarded documentary.
Tre and I were each 21-years-old at the time. We were born just weeks apart and grew up in the same county. We were both 4.0 students in high school. Yet, Tre and I followed different paths. His father left him as an infant for drugs. His mother raised him. As a teen, Tre was robbed at gunpoint and thereafter carried a weapon. That decision led to his arrest when he was pulled over (although Tre believed the stop only happened because he was profiled). While behind bars, Tre's grandmother died. He wanted more than anything to go to her funeral but his request was denied. He told me he missed his dog a lot.
Meeting Tre opened my eyes to the reality of systemic inequity. He should have had the same opportunities that I did. But, for so many reasons, he didn't.
The documentary shares Tre's life story and its continuation as he maintained a job while in prison, reunited with his father and discovered newfound purpose.
Now, Tre is a free man. He and I are friends on Facebook. He shares so much positivity. He's even creating opportunity as a caring father to his own son and daughter.
What I learned from Tre has been the driving force behind Lasser Media’s inception and growth. He taught me that we simply need to look beyond the surface to find what we all have in common.
The documentary offered Tre a chance to be heard, seen and understood. We all deserve that chance.
At Lasser Media, we believe empathy-driven video stories have the power to change minds if only we take the opportunity.
Ricky Lasser is an award-winning video producer with a passion for character-driven multimedia storytelling. He enjoyed his humble beginning in production by operating the audio board for Clarksville Middle School’s morning news show - CMS TV-25 - every morning his fifth grade year then running across the street before class would start at the elementary school.
After a few attempts in front of the camera, Ricky has found his calling as a video storyteller. While at the University of Maryland, he was fortunate to be selected for the advanced documentary capstone, ViewFinder. As a member of this class, he broke many national award records for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism with his video work. He crafted stories about paratroopers jumping out of planes, a college student who was paralyzed from the waist down and an inmate stuck in a cell with the father whom he’d never met. These experiences lead to the founding of Lasser Media in 2016.
Ricky believes the true power of video in the modern era is in harnessing the potential of digital platforms by producing content that lifts up the voiceless so they may be seen, heard and understood equitably.
Ricky now lives in Baltimore with his fiancée, Emily. Together they can be found reminiscing about delicious Roman pizza, battling it out in a game of Catan and frequenting the Hippodrome.
Director of Post-Production
Director of Communication