They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about watching captivating film? Salt Lake business Elm Studios is made up of a progressive team of creatives that represents the next generation of artists & storytellers. Their mission is to deliver breathtaking visuals and stunning sound to captivate your audience. The guys behind Elm are seasoned in an array of genres including documentaries, branded content, short films, commercials, music videos, and more. Owners Evan Moore and Wes Thompson even shot and produced our promotional videos to promote who we are and what we do here at the Utah Microloan Fund! Elm Studios is our January Small Business of the month, keep reading to learn about the guys behind the lens, their process and why they got into the art of music and film.
UMLF: Tell us about yourselves and your background:
Evan - I originally started Elm as Elm Productions in 2010. The goal at that time was throwing concerts and promoting music. Film had always been sort of a side hobby but nothing I ever pursued seriously. From 2010 to 2013 it was a struggle throwing concerts and trying to manage unsigned artists. Constant ups and downs of making money, losing money and trying to build a team of people I could depend on and trust. In 2013 I decided that it was a safer route to have a music venue where I could still host shows but not have to be the person to put all the money on the line. Instead, people would pay to utilize my venue, so no matter what, I would always make at least some money. And when it came to throwing my shows, since I had my own space, I could cut down on my costs to throw shows. The warehouse I rented was large enough that i also had space to sub-lease to artists. The warehouse was known as "The Project." It was a venue and art collective. A couple of my renters at the collective were photographers and videographers and I had the chance to work with them which sort of ignited a passion for filmmaking. In 2015 my landlord sold the warehouse to developers which forced me to shut down the venue/art collective and go elsewhere. As they say, when one door closes, another one opens. I sold all of my assets in the concert venue and invested all of that money into filmmaking equipment and began pursuing a career in filmmaking. Now, five years later, my filmmaking career is far more successful and fulfilling then my concert promotion, venue and art collective ever were.
UMLF: What inspired you to start Elm Studios?
We were both working at an art space called The Project from 2014 to 2015. We met each other there and collaborated on a handful of projects together. Mostly Wes would give music to me (Evan) to use in my videos. The Project closed its doors in June of 2015 and I started to look for my own warehouse and invited Wesley to join me in sharing the space. We then found a 2,500 square foot warehouse and at first we were just splitting the rent. By the end of 2015 we had been doing so much work together that we decided to officially partner up and start Elm Studios. A short time later we applied for a loan through the UMLF and were approved.
UMLF: What is your creative process behind starting a new video project?
Evan: While there is a step by step process going from pre production to post production, the creative process is usually different depending on the project. Sometimes we're working with an agency where the creative part has already been completed. Then we step in and do the job of creating whats in the script. Other times, clients come to us to bring their project to life.
UMLF: What projects are you looking forward to in the future?
Evan: We are most known for our involvement in music, but lately we have been working on more short films, feature films and tv series. We have also started to produce our own content and shop it to distributors and producers for major funding.
UMLF: Every business has its highs and lows. Tell us about a challenge you faced as a small business owner and how you overcame it?
Evan: We were location scouting for a job in a very remote area of the mountains and had a bunch of gear locked in our truck. We parked on the side of the road and hiked away from the truck and were gone for a couple of hours. We returned to find two smashed out windows on the truck and $15,000 worth of gear was stolen. Among the gear was a hard drive that contained a copy of footage that had not been duplicated. It was the only copy. Fortunately for the equipment, we were prepared and had insurance in place that replaced all of it. We had to pay out of pocket to cover the cost to re-shoot.
UMLF: How do you believe the Utah Microloan Fund has helped you and your business?
Evan: No other entity would loan to us or even look at us. The UMLF gave us the funds we needed to invest in the equipment we needed to produce the best video and audio possible.