The Many Hats of Christine Chen

ChristineChenThere are some things in life that don’t mix: Oil and water, toddlers and firearms, and corporations and creatives come to mind. Too often are grand ideas struck down by men in suits worried about the bottom line, leaving artists scrambling to put the pieces of their dream back together. It’s enough to make the average creative insane. But, then again, Christine Chen is anything but average.

Chen, MBA ’12, left her cushy corporate consultant job in 2007 to found Moth to Flame Films, a production company based in Austin, during her time at McCombs School of Business. After graduating from McCombs, she moved into her friend’s dining room, cutting living costs and downgrading immediately in order to fund her fledgling dream.

“I always liked film,” Chen says. “As a kid, I would make commercials with my dad’s camcorder, and in high school I would always convince my teachers to let me make videos for class projects.” But it wasn’t until her time as an undergraduate at Rice University, double majoring in visual arts and economics, did she realize she wanted to be a filmmaker. “All I wanted to do was make film,” Chen says. “I didn’t just want to be a director, I wanted to control all of my own projects as well. The only way to do that was to start my own company.”

Since its inception, Moth to Flame has built an impressive collection of both corporate and creative work. Their website hosts a wide variety of projects, from music videos and Internet shorts to corporate reels and wedding videos. Although Chen straddles the corporate and creative worlds with aplomb, her dual career path can be trying.

“These two worlds fight each other all the time,” she says. “It’s a continuous battle and I haven’t achieved a balance yet because my heart wants to do more creative stuff, but I’m still learning and figuring it out. You have to be choosy with clients and decide what to take on, and that’s why I like working with startups because they are innovative and open to creating an emotional response with their work, and it’s easy to inject that sort of creativity into my work.”

Chen’s love of startups and their culture led to producing and directing her first feature film about the Austin startup scene. The film, titled Funemployment and based on her and her friends’ entrepreneurial experiences, is currently in post-production but has already garnered her a 2014 YWCA of Greater Austin Women of the Year award for her use of women of color in non-traditional roles, including having strong female leads in her work.

“It’s pretty awesome to win an award [like this] because there’s no manual to starting your own company, and while you’re in the process it  feels like you don’t know what you’re doing at all,” Chen says. “The award is a little validation, like ‘I don’t know what I’m doing but I should be doing something right.’ In film, females are very limited with what they can do behind and in front of the camera, and I hope that trying to change that and making little changes along the way will make some sort of difference.”

Image courtesy Christine Chen


Tags: , ,


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment