In 2013 Evan Moore rented a building slated for demolition for $3,300 a month. The large space, dubbed The Project, housed a collection of artists, photographers, sound engineers and videographers, as well a music venue for local concerts. For Moore, it was an education that money could not buy at a University.
Recently the building was torn down, but from the downfall of The Project rose Elm Studios, a “full service multimedia studio,” that Moore and his partner, Wesley Thompson have grown through hard work, ethical business practices and some lucky connections.
Moore and Thompson opened Elm Studios in June of 2015, the same month they walked away from The Project. Moore had been trying to be, as he says, “a Jack of all trades and a master of none,” while operating the downtown music venue. He got an education there in dealing with people, some of whom were reliable, others not so much. He learned how to navigate city ordinances and licenses—that it is not enough to give people a good time, you also have to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
When The Project shut down, Evan decided to focus on making films, something he’d developed as professional skier to help himself improve his technique. He had stopped filming when he stopped skiing, but one day as he helped a friend with a film project, he discovered that not only did he miss it, he was good at it. He approached Wesley Thompson, also from The Project, who is a sound engineer, composer and recording artist, and together they formed the studio and booked their first client, Summit Sotheby’s International Realty.
Moore approached them with some drone video he’d taken of one of the company’s listings. They liked what they saw and hired Moore and Thompson to produce home tours. Moore supplied the video and Thompson added original music. The experience led them to one of their business mantras, “The Power of Asking.”
Elm Studios started on Richards Street in an office that needed a lot of work. Moore maxed out a $15,000 credit card to get them started. They both lived above the studio until the business became profitable. With funding from a $50,000 Utah Microenterprise Loan, they were able to buy the equipment they needed to move to the next level, including a $35,000 Red Camera.
The business does everything from commercial production for local businesses such as Furniture Warehouse, music videos for local bands, and music licensing. Thompson recently completed the music for an ESPN pro skier video contest for professional freeskier Tom Wallisch. He is also preparing to release his first album, and Elm is contracted to do video production for the Sundance Film Festival.
For Thompson, it all boils down to ethics. He says, “Before I teamed up with Evan I was a gypsy, travelling the country and playing my music. He grounded me and showed me how things had to be done. He made me believe in myself. My family loves him.”
Moore says, “I’m happy—overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that we both weathered the storm. I just keep grinding.”