Congratulations McCombs Class of 2012! Read more about director, Christine Chen (McCombs Full-Time Class of 2012) on the McCombs Commencement Spotlights!
I recommend reading this while listening to Le Rallye by Tindersticks.
Running around from project to project, I can’t believe that only two years ago Moth to Flame didn’t exist. My team and I have grown so much over that time; yet I feel that all we have accomplished pales in comparison to our goals.
Moth to Flame came to life right before I entered business school. At the time, I made films under “Christine Chen.” One late editing night (as usual), I worked with my friend (John Hale of Bleedthrough Production) on our attempt to create and co-direct a TV pilot, Lawless and I realized that I needed to start branding my work. With the trailer for the pilot being released the next day, I stayed up all night trying to come up with a creative company name. It had to have multiple connotations and I wanted it to either symbolize how I feel about making films or how people should feel when they watched my films. Enigma, Jig-Saw, Hypnotic, Hypnosis… all were taken (thankfully). Somehow the phrase like a moth to flame became lodged in my head from listening to one of Janet Jackson’s songs. Perfect. The films I conceived should draw people like a moth to a flame. In a short while, John made my first logo and Moth to Flame began.
I came to business school wanting to start my own company, but who doesn’t. At the time, I never fully realized how far I could take my idea.
Goal #1: Make a parody about business school. After watching many other law and medical school parody videos, I became determined to make one for McCombs. People had no idea what to make of me. Some thought I had issues, others asked whether the film was for a grade, but a few friends eagerly volunteered. So instead of paying attention in my accounting class, I wrote lyrics to the tune of a wildly popular song involving men in pants by The Lonely Island. Those lyrics became Gettin’ My MBA. Only, that video did not release first. Filming one day, I asked Professor Magee to dance in the video and to my amazement, he did so willingly. (Others might say that I invited him for a cameo and then later “told” him he had to dance.) Filming that made me laugh so hard while editing that I had to create a teaser. Little did I know that the teaser which I released at midnight would be seen by the majority of the entire class the next day. I. Was. Flabbergasted. In one night, I went from the quiet girl who kept falling asleep in class to “THE Filmmaker.”
The response to the teaser made me realize that the parody video could go viral, and I started thinking of how I could debut the Moth to Flame brand with the video. The music video would release with a makeshift website that I built from iWeb (with the help of my MBA friend Joe Koenig). After the film’s release, Moth to Flame started to gain traction enough to get me some of my first paid projects.
Goal #2: Make Moth to Flame semi-sustainable by graduation. From that moment forward, projects just kept getting bigger and bigger. I knew in my heart that this could work. Only, I needed help. Fortunately, Chris Jackson (Moth to Flame’s current CMO) asked to join the team and I “quickly” latched onto the opportunity. Actually, he had to email me several times in order to convince me that he truly wanted to help. I thought he was crazy for wanting to…
Chris helped me launch our second website with a new music video with Eagle Pritchard Murray Band. Then the projects just kept coming and we could not handle all the work. At the end of each project, we landed one to two new projects from various friends, such as ColoredLion.com and Betty Jean Bell. We had to add new members to stay afloat. Kelsey Park, who had found Moth to Flame through a personal referral; Kelsey Pribilski, an actress from my EPMB music video; and Steve Herron and Harold Williams, both 2013 MBA students joined the team. Several members have had to leave to pursue other interests, but most recently we’ve added Dusty Gibson, an old friend of mine, as our accountant.
Since the EPMB music video release, the website has changed once, our logo twice. We also have filmed at SXSW, in India, for Clinique, and so much more. The last two years have been fantastic (if at time rough) and I just know that if I dedicate myself 120% (out of 100%) after graduating, Moth to Flame will make a name for itself.
It has been a huge learning experience, and I know an even greater one lies ahead. I am both excited and scared sh*tless because I have no idea what will happen. Will we find success? Will we fail? Will I fail and end up living in a box on the side of a street? No idea. All I know is that I have a great team supporting me, my parents have finally said yes to giving me their emotional support, and my brain is moving at a billion miles per hour thinking of all the possibilities to come. Dude, I even got to meet Robert Rodriguez!!! If that’s not a sign, then what else?
I will become a better filmmaker. Moth to Flame will grow.
We, hopefully, will continue to make things people enjoy watching and sharing, and we will continue to challenge ourselves to grow and become a better company. Moth to Flame is built on love and passion. Moth to Flame is built on the help of our friends and followers. Moth to Flame is grateful to have people who care about our success.
I cannot stress how thankful we are for the support. No one makes it alone and we all need the help of others.
Life lessons? I did not know how to start a production company, I just did it. I have no idea what the future holds, but if I fail, I will then succeed. I will keep moving forward. I will take things as they come. I am sure the dots will connect and I will look back and smile at all the trials and tribulations, but right now, I’m just too busy making dots. I’m not taking the easy route, I’m following my heart.
Goal #3: Watch out everyone. Moth to Flame is here to stay.
Please help us in growing Moth to Flame. If you are a McCombs student, for a $10 donation, you will receive a DVD filled with all the projects (and more) I made during my two years at business school. To donate, go to the giveaway link.
By the way, congratulations McCombs MBA 2012, may all your dreams come true. For all my McCombs friends who do read the blog, I’m sneaking part of the graduation video below Thank you for reading what I write…