By Daryl Paranada
Chandler Kilgore-Parshall ’16 tells a story about visiting family a couple years ago and making a pit stop at his childhood home in the suburbs of Philadelphia. There, at a local school, engraved on one of the fence posts securing the playground is his last name. It denotes his family’s contribution to getting the playground built.
“Looking at that fence and seeing my last name, something clicked. I realized we can bring good into the world and it’s not just about moving up the ladder. Doing good with your own skills and passions, you can still build something really great,” said Killgore-Parshall. “It gave me the inspiration to start a production company that utilizes my skills and creativity with like-minded people.”
His like-minded person is Walker Sayen ’16. Born and raised in New Jersey, Sayen grew up watching movies and it was a connection point for his family during troubled times. He knew as soon as he started high school that he wanted to create his own worlds through the magic of storytelling, but building a life for himself in LA was a big move. He’d never been to the city before.
“I had dreams of being an indie filmmaker and doing my own movies, but having the support of someone else is a great energizer and motivator,” said Sayen. “Creating a business and taking a leap to go beyond what you think you can do is great. It is also very hard work.”
The business they created together is TinDragon Media, a production company that provides a variety of services, including shooting, editing, writing, and producing projects like videos, live events, documentaries, animation, promos, and more. They recently created a Get out the Vote ad for the Asian American & Pacific Islander community on behalf of the Biden campaign, and a series of educational content for LA-area schools and other organizations.
“We immerse ourselves and learn from our clients’ worlds to best tell the story that they want to tell,” said Sayen.
The duo worked together on a short film while attending Emerson College Los Angeles (ELA), but really bonded after losing ELA’s annual Final Draft-sponsored PitchFest competition, where they pitched different projects to a team of alumni judges. Afterwards, they commiserated while eating Mexican food.
“We talked about what movies we liked, the stories we were interested in making. Walker was telling me about the script he was working on, which was Scarborough, a family drama,” said Kilgore-Parshall. “I was very engaged, so I wanted to offer my services and produce it. We’ve been working together ever since.”
After graduating from Emerson, they worked together on friends’ projects while freelancing on their own before deciding to test out creating their own company in 2018.
“It was a big challenge for us as two young professionals who were trying to build a business and having to learn and research what it takes,” said Sayen.
They worked on a business model, put down some money, and incorporated. Their business officially became TinDragon Media in 2019. The name comes from combining elements from two different films they produced together to create “one brave entity.” Much like their partnership, the name reflects a melding of their different talents.
Kilgore-Parshall and Sayen both refer to each other as family, balancing each other out. Kilgore-Parshall praises Sayen’s ability to direct and remain amenable when things change on the fly. Sayen commends Kilgore-Parshall’s attention to detail and planning, attributes of a good producer.
“Everyone has certain elements they wish they were better at. It’s just as important to find someone else who brings those attributes and qualities to the table. That’s what great collaboration is, bringing different unique strengths that are greater together than they would be separate,” said Kilgore-Parshall. “Walker and I come together in this great middle ground and combine our talents.”
Along with a handful of Emerson alumni freelancers that TinDragon works with, the company also has a pair of students interning virtually this semester. Ruth Secular ’20 found out about the company through Facebook and was interested in applying for an internship after researching the company.
“My favorite part of my internship so far has been all of the opportunities to write. I really enjoy feeling involved in the work that they do and I feel like my voice is valued,” said Secular, a career development intern who hopes to become a showrunner one day. “I also like sitting in development meetings. All of the education I get about how their company and other production companies work is so informative and helpful to me.”
Yaodong Liu ’20 is a post-production intern at TinDragon. This semester he’s worked on editing different types of videos — valuable experience for the aspiring editor.
“[Walker] trusts my judgment and my skills,” said Liu. “He allows me to fully control my project, but is also always ready to help me… I’m really glad that my first step towards my career journey started with Chandler and Walker.”
Eventually, Kilgore-Parshall and Sayen want to create more content for bigger brands and larger nonprofits, helping small and medium-sized businesses expand. They also want to develop more of their own content.
“Thinking back to four years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined Chandler and I would be where we are having a business and providing work to other freelancers, but we are here,” said Sayen.